GoOSe, revisited

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Posted by: stak
Posted on: 2005-09-03 19:02:49

so in the car today, i was reading this BusinessWeek article (sep 5, 2005 - Google's Grand Ambitions) and started thinking about what google is up to (again).

the article covered google's spree of acquisitions and hires related to browser/OS development, as well as their latest focus on providing free wi-fi access and getting into the mobile market. so what i now think is that they're actually doing what everybody else is only talking about (with the possible exception of sun) - using the internet as an application delivery platform. except they're doing it google-style. which means they're going to keep just about everything on their local server farm, and the user is only going to be giving commands through a thin-client type OS.

google is one of the few companies with the server capacity (and broadband fiber - see my earlier post) to be able to pull this off. it also makes a lot of sense with respect to making the world's information universally accessible. think about it - all your apps and data are stored online. you are given a universal login, which you can use on any google-OS (which i'll call GoOSe for short) anywhere. that includes your desktop, laptop (connected using google's free wi-fi access points), cellphone, friend's cellphone, or street kiosk. that's right - i fully expect google to start putting google kiosks for public use in the streets (or at least in cafes and such) once this is ready to go.

with everything centralized, virii can be squashed before they have a chance to spread, apps are constantly up-to-date, and everything is accessible anywhere. you might not be able to play doom3 on your cellphone, but that would be a limitation of the data transfer speed, not computational power. no maintenance required whatsoever - this solution is totally grandma-proof.

in fact, if they get around to actually doing this, they could probably harness spare CPU cycles the same way i described for the cell processor. that would simply add to their already ginormous supply of processing power. but that's beside the point.

so what does google get out of this? control. it's that simple - they would control everything (and more) right from the OS to the applications to the delivery mechanism. that's even more control than microsoft has now, which is probably not a good thing. anyway, more later..

Posted by Dave at 2005-09-05 22:20:44
So the hardware market does what now? Everything is through a thin client.
That's a multi-billion dollar industry, what will happen to it?
Think Dell will push it's use? Think Gateway, HP, and others will push people using thin clients like that? What would be the point.
So Dell doesn't really need to sell hardware after 2 years. Think they'd push this? So they'll continue to push Windows...

Think any company would use this? no fucking way. Not having control over their data? sure, it's just on Google's machines.
Well, they've now lost hardware manufacturers and large corporations...
2 guesses where MS makes their money :)
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Posted by stak at 2005-09-05 23:58:58
You're right that corporations wouldn't use this.. I figured it would be mostly for the average-user type person. Corporations do have higher security requirements and such and would probably continue using whatever setups they have now. HOWEVER, there's also the possibility that Google would license such an OS to corporations so they could run their own setup. Employees would be able to login to the corporate network from any corporate device in much the same way that anybody else would log on to the Internet from any GoOSe device. It would just be a different network, with all the same advantages.

For your first point, when I say "thin client", I'm referring more to the software/OS running on the device rather than the device itself. The client component of the OS could run on a modern desktop too. If the machine the client component is running on is powerful enough, it might download the app and run it locally instead of centrally, or download pieces of it and run those locally. It would certainly be faster, and there's no point in not doing it. If you're playing some game which requires fast user response times, it would be better to have at least some of the code running on the client machine so that you can do precalculation and buffering and reduce the latency effect.

You're right that it wouldn't push the hardware guys to really develop high-performance desktops from this point on, but really.. what's pushing them now? The only thing I can think of is gaming, and that's pushing GPUs more than CPUs. Most other apps out there are just bloatware, and will run fine on a decent system from a few years ago.

And remember - for each thin client, there's an additional burden on the server side. That's going to be MASSIVE - although what Google has now will probably suffice for a few hundred or possibly thousand users, they're going to need huge processing centers with much more powerful machines to actually roll this out. So far their data centers have been using cheap PCs hooked together with GFS because their main need is data storage (caching the web a few times over takes some space :)). If it shifts to processing, cheap PCs with 2 80GB hard drives isn't going to cut it - they're going to need to focus more on CPU power, with special focus on multithreading, multicore, multi-you-name-it. That's definitely going to push the hardware guys. In fact, that's the sort of thing Cell would supposedly be great at.
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Posted by Dave at 2005-09-06 19:51:02
I love this debate :)

I admit, it would be very cool to access your own setup from anywhere. What happens when the first major virus hits? Think anyone will use it?
Look at GoogleTalk. Their big foray into the IM client. Do you know that MSN isn't the leading IM client. This is IM clients...nothing more. And look at the reluctance to switch. GoogleTalk has been out close to a month now and I have doubts that they have any serious numbers on the IM client now. Don't say it's just beta ... :)

But back to the debate.
You have a point with their own corporate one. But what about for home use? I want to connect my home PC to my work one but still be using my home PC. Say I'm writing a doc at home.
I did this at MS :)
I want to be using things on my machine with my work machine. But I can't. I have to be receiving from the work one or home one. Not both. Machines are running 2 seperate sets of infrastructure.

I know you are referring to the software/OS on the device. I mean to say that large manufacturers rely on having people update every 2-3 years. buying a new PC. It's like that old thing about Ford with their cars. Sure they could make a car that would not break down in 30 years, but for 30 years they'd have no income. :)
Think Gas companies are supporting electric cars? You've seen the simpsons cartoon about Epcot center in Florida. With the electric cars... It's funny :)
Hardware companies will not push for this. They don't want it around, they'll ship machines with Windows for years to come. Who will get the GoogleOS then?

Also, where's the selling point to Google? An OS such as that requires a lot of dev time. Especially if they want nice graphics and such. With no profit on it, how will they make their money. Again, MS makes it all through licensing. Google would HAVE to convince large companies to switch and to do that, they need to offer a better experience then Windows. That means easier to use, run and has some big thing that makes it attractive. Attractive enough to retrain many employees. I don't think they'll have that.

Server side, sure... you are right. Are we moving back to the days where we'll have these enormous server rooms? I don't think people want that. I don't think companies do either.
Also, Windows already offers this type of desktop thing. It's called Remote Desktop. Admitedly, it's not very good in XP, if you are using/running Windows Server 2003, it's freakin' awesome. You can connect to any other machine. You can also be running the exact same session.

No, it's not a thin client, but as a productivity tool, it serves what a company would need it for. My mentor often worked from home. Just because he could log into his work machine and use it as if he were actually there :)
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Posted by stak at 2005-09-06 20:13:37
The thing about viruses is that they only spread because people are stupid enough to activate them and leave their computers unsecured. If everything is centralized, this wouldn't be a problem because all the central servers would be updated simultaneously, squashing all copies of the virus simultaneously. end of problem.

Agreed, google talk isn't taking off all that much. But it *is* still invitation-only (as far as I'm aware) and also windows-only. That cuts out a lot of the geek population, which are the most likely ones to actually have invitations at this point. But even besides that, you're right.. it's not easy to get people to switch IM clients. People will only switch when their friends switch. There's not much that you can do about that.

Ok, what kind of apps would be (a) on your home network, (b) NOT on your corporate network and (c) that you would use to edit work documents? I can't really think of any. Yes, you have two completely different sets of infrastructure, accessible from a single machine. That's fantastic. It means a virus I send to your gmail account can't leak over and accidentally spread into the MS network. You can still work on either network - home or office - just not simultaneously. Actually.. you might even be able to do that. With a decent enough computer you could connect to multiple GoOSe networks from a single client simultaneously, but they would all be independent of each other, like virtual terminals in Linux. Just pop open a new one and run whatever you want on it.

Yeah, hardware companies aren't going to like it. I'm sure there's something else that I can't think of that'll take care of that problem.. :)

The selling point to Google is the same as it always has been: targeted advertisements. If you control the OS and the apps, it allows data gathering and customization on an enormous scale. I'm not saying this is a good thing - there will undoubtedly be privacy issues - but from google's point of view, they can give people exactly what they're looking for. They'll have all the context they need to target ads and information to exactly what the user wants, and the user will pay for it (even if it's indirectly through ads and such). Or they could just charge users to use the system directly. Sun's new computing initiative, from what I can make out, is basically selling computer-hours. You have pretty much unlimited access to processing power, and you pay for however much you use. In fact, it's exactly like electricity - processing power is going to totally become a commodity/utility market.

I've used Remote Desktop.. just about every OS has something of the sort. On Linux you can just SSH in and start an X server/client and use the machine as if you were there. That's almost trivial to do, and is beside the point. It's kind of a thin client, but this would be taking that to the extreme.
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Posted by Dave at 2005-09-07 00:51:07
You are right about Viruses... That's largely the problem. Though even some slip through the cracks. Not because of the stupidity of man but because of actual intelligent crackers. That was the threat in the 80s before the net had taken off. It just manifests itself in a different way now. But you are largely right. I'll say this though, the enemy will always adapt.

You are right about the geek population being cut out, but they knew that. That was their own fault...

The virus spreading over is not the biggest concern to me. I would want to transfer a file from home to work, I can't. I have to email it to myself? That's low tech. So 20th century Kats :)

People won't like targeted ads. I have no ads on my computer atm. Not everyone is willing to live with Opera adds. especially not on the desktop. As well, if you don't have net access, you don't have access to your computer? That's not good. Not good at all. The public will not like that ( I just thought about that point). When the net goes down, I can't work anymore? not good at all.

Remote Desktop is more then just a new active session, you can open the already active one. I don't think you can do that with SSH. At least not that I know of... Like, I had a demo set up on my computer and was able to log into it and have it all prepared :) It was cool.

Computing power as a commodity. Some would like that, geeks would not. Also, Sun seems to be a rapidly sinking ship...
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Posted by stak at 2005-09-08 03:09:24
why would you want to transfer a file from home to work? it stays on your work network, and you can access it wherever you want to. why would it ever leave the work network? that in itself would be a security risk - people storing confidential documents on external networks is a bad idea in general. and no, you can drag and drop between your virtual terminals. :)

i bet most people will live with the ads because they're too lazy to do anything else. i think that most people are willing to live with Opera ads.. what they're not willing is to do the extra effort of downloading and learning a new browser, on top of the ads. if the ad version of opera came bundled with your OS instead of IE, and you had to dig through microsoft's website to get IE, i bet you almost nobody would bother switching to IE. it's the switch, not the ads, that's the killer.

if you don't have net access... what's up with that? that's like so 19th century. forget it. :)
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Posted by Robb at 2005-09-08 06:27:26
I think a better retort is needed for what happens when you have lack of net...
Seriously, with the ISP issues you've been having, would you be willing to have no home machine every time the next is down, or every term when you move?

And the "hardware manufactures won't go for it" counter-argument you're looking for might be that someone is always willing to get paid instead of their competitors.. everyone has a price. Or worst comes to worst Google manufactures their own hardware for this - if it's going to work, it's going to be large-scale anyway.
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Posted by Dave at 2005-09-08 13:08:09
What I think Kats will eventually bring around is Google's plan for WiFi.(I hate counter-arguing my own point but I'm honest). But really, I don't think this is as realistic as you'd imagine. People will still be reluctant to sign into this completely Google World... Nothing is yours anymore. Mother Google will own your net access and your desktop. You own a box. I don't think this is an "ideal" world.

Most people will not just live with ads. Not if it's flashing on their desktop, or everything they type has some sort of targeted ad attached to it. How would you like to open Word and just see someone's banner flying there while you are working.
People hate commercials, what makes you think they'll tolerate ads all the time?
Nextly, You are a large corporation. You have to choose between paying money for the license of a large scale OS like Windows with no ads, or save the money and get GoogleOS. where everything will have an ad attached to it. Ohh and you need to be connected to Mother Google for either the server or if you have your own, still need to be connected to recieve the ads.
It's lose/lose in many respects.

Hardware...They won't manufacture their own. That would be super silly of them. MS doesn't get involved in building PCs for a :)
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Posted by stak at 2005-09-08 17:59:46
To be honest, I wasn't thinking of Google's WiFi in that respect. I don't really have an answer to the no-net scenario.. all I can say is that Google probably has one of the smallest downtimes of any internet service, so they know what they're doing in that respect, and I don't think it's that big of an issue. The problem here isn't conceptual, it's technical. With enough backup systems and distributing the load to avoid single points of failure, the problem becomes practically negligible.

People like you and I would be reluctant to sign up for "Google World", but that's not the target market. The target market is the average joe, who doesn't know squat about computers, and just wants to do whatever he wants to do. If that means having your data sitting on Google's servers, then so be it. They don't need or care if their data is sitting on their own machines, they just want to be able to access it whenever they want. They don't want to maintain their own machines or deal with updating software or battling virii.. they want somebody else to do it.

With ads, I think you're forgetting the distinction between regular ands and google ads. They don't flash, they don't have banners or distracting images, and their ads are always discreet. Most of the time I don't even notice them. I think they have a little better taste than to have ads all over the place or in places that will annoy their users. Give them a little more credit than that. Also, ads go away when you pay.

I don't think expanding into the hardware market would be silly.. it would probably be a pretty good move. I would say MS is stupid for not building their own processors.. that way they would stop being dependent on Intel and IBM, own the entire vertical stack, and be able to push the hardware exactly where they want it to go.
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Posted by Dave at 2005-09-13 21:17:54
A processor manufacturing plant ranges in the billions... I believe Intel's is roughly 5 billion. That's a very very large number. Plus they are years and years ahead of MS. That's why they wouldn't get into that market.
Gah, I gotta get back to my WTR...
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Posted by stak at 2005-09-14 00:51:32
And guess how much cash Google suddenly acquired by selling stock.. around 4 billion. They certainly have the money to do it, that's not an obstacle.
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Posted by Robb at 2005-09-18 03:51:26
These posts are getting kinda small... Any thought into implementing a different scheme to show threading? Possibly color would be good enough? Although I am kinda curious as to how small they'll get...
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Posted by stak at 2005-09-18 09:45:59
At first I was thinking about some sort of exponential curve, so that the deeper you go, the less of an incremental indent there is. In the end I just went with a standard 25-pixel indent per level, since I figured most comments wouldn't go deeper than 10 levels. Right now, they'll get indefinitely small.. eventually it'll may even force horizontal scrolling on your browser.

I'm not sure color would work that well either.. eventually the shade would hit black (or white) depending on which way you're going and make everything unreadable. I think I might go for the exponential indenting..
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Posted by stak at 2005-09-18 10:01:26
There we go.. exponential commenting'd!
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Posted by Robb at 2005-09-20 11:13:59
Asymoted around 3/4? And at this stage it's basically safe to assume that most replys will be on the same thread? Seems better..
I think I meant that each thread would have a color to itself, not each level, on the assumption there are less threads.. but I was tired, and I don't remember how it would work any more, so I might have been crazy. And this works fine.
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