Google's ChromeOS: O3D Integration Changes Everything...

Ok, so like many I've been extremely skeptical ever since it was first announced that Google was planning on building their own Operating System centered primarily around Chrome and the web. Obviously this would be fine for a netbook, where a browser's all you really need, but when they claimed people would use it on their desktops too, that's when I was confused. People expect a desktop (or full fledged laptop for that matter) to do alot more than just browse the web, especially when it comes to multimedia and gaming.

Well yesterday it was announced that the Chromium developers plan to make O3D a built-in standard component for a future release...probably Chrome 3 I'd be willing to bet, and probably the same version that will show up in the first edition of the Chrome OS. That's when it finally clicked...this could change everything. As I researched the topic today I stumbled also across Google's Native Client (NaCl for short, so should I just call it Salt from here out I guess?) which looks to add faster performance than a javascript engine will ever be able to accomplish, but more importantly could add the ability to use other languages like C/C++ or maybe even Python (my personal fav) right in your web apps.

And now it's all coming together. A year ago we all questioned...why is Google bothering releasing their own browser? Why not just work with Firefox? Then a couple weeks ago we once again thought...why is Google bothering creating it's own OS? They could just work with Ubuntu? When they announced O3D, I thought to myself...oh, neat...that could be really cool one day. But, now I've finally gotten a glimpse of the big picture. Combine all of this together and they just might be able to pull off things we never thought could happen, at least not any time remotely soon.

With Chrome having this new Native Client ability in combination with O3D (not to forget HTML5 audio/video support too), you might actually be able to make the next generation of web apps really compete directly against native desktop apps...and this makes the concept of a Chrome OS suddenly much more feasible... If you could play Xbox360 and PS3 quality PC games right in your browser, if you could have silky smooth GL powered interfaces for web apps...it all gives things much greater potential than what the ol' Web2.0 & AJAX revolution a couple years back have provided us with so far.

Not only this, but since all 4 of these projects are open source, it won't be limited to just Google. Unlike Flash & Silverlight, these technologies will be able to be modified to work really well across numerous operating system and hardware architectures, and be used by other developers and products beyond just Google. Java's new JavaFx platform was looking potentially promising at one point, but as there's yet to be any code released to the public (as far as I'm aware) and with all the uncertainty surrounding Sun's acquisition by Oracle that may never come to fruition. Now Mozilla's also working on some similar technologies, but I'd be willing to wager in a couple years Mozilla and Google will take these new 3D and local/native abilities to the W3C for inclusion in HTML5+1 and find a common ground.

One more interesting concept to also consider is the kind of services all these upcoming cloud gaming services are planning to offer. The more you think about it, the more feasible the concept of only having thin-client cloud computers for everything becomes. All we need now is for our pesky ISPs to pick up the pace with some more bandwidth, and more importantly: much less latency.

This is all very exciting to think about, but we have to remember to still take it with a grain of NaCl as it'll still take quite a few years for these new things to develop and take off with the web development community. Also don't forget that Google will probably have some pretty stiff competition from Microsoft and Apple who obviously won't easily relinquish their current power over general computing. However, the once dreamy picture of a cloud filled future seems to be less a question of if, and now just when? It might just be sooner than we all thought ;)

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