When I first heard about Chrome OS, Google's browser-oriented operating system, I dismissed the idea. I thought it was stupid to build your computer architecture around Internet browsing. But my opinion is slowly changing. We are in a transitional period.
All our favorite desktop applications have been creeping into the browser:
www.hobnox.com - A Reason-like modular (and gorgeous) synth workstation
www.aviary.com - A suite of creative tools: photo editor, vector editor, texture creator, sound editor
www.quakelive.com - Fast FPS gaming in browser. By John Carmack himself
www.google.com/docs - And of course, your basic office productivity apps
The direction all this is heading is plain as day. These sites prove that the domain of the browser is not limited to the old way; Hotmail and Mapquest. The browser, as inefficient as it may be, can run our fat apps too. I'm not saying the desktop application will go away. Maybe I will say that in another year.
The world has been waiting for something to replace Flash and Java. The problems with Java are a topic for another day. The browser itself needs to be that platform. And that's why I am beginning to like the idea of Chrome OS. Microsoft trotted out Silverlight and I don't know enough about it to say one thing or another. Maybe I'm too political. I'd love Silverlight if it was Google's product, that's for sure.
Microsoft's ubiquity is coming to an end. It's sad, because as a developer, all I want is one platform to develop for. The name of that platform is secondary. The reason I always used Windows is because it had the most application support. However, the web browser provides another path to ubiquity. The time has come to strip back the layers: running DSP in a Flash plugin within Firefox within Windows XP? How about running DSP in a standards-based, platform independent browser language that gets compiled on the fly to machine code on a light Linux kernel? That's the promise of Chrome OS.