Google's secret operating system

Search giant is rumored to be building a Linux-based desktop, but a Linux-based software-as-a-service network infrastructure is probably more like it, at least in the short term.

Reports have spread about a possible new operating system in use at Google, one its employees have been using to browse the Web.

There are all sorts of theories about what Google is up to (from a port of Android to the desktop to a new software-as-a-service infrastructure), but I like OStatic's synopsis and theory most:

Android ported to the PC--or even the 2006-era dream of a "Goobuntu" desktop--are, of course, possible, but if not overly costly for Google to undertake, would at least be major time investments. Those sorts of investments might pay off over time, but a software-as-a-service product (one "to use as an infrastructure for network applications that could be deployed virtually anywhere") gives Google an advantage in the operating-system market, should have a faster return on investment, and complements the free services Google already offers.

I don't see Google coming out with a desktop operating system anytime soon, though I think that longer term, an Ubuntu-Google desktop makes a lot of sense . But building out an open-source infrastructure for network applications? That seems to fit the Google playbook.

While Google seeks to cut costs as its growth slows, it's likely that its technology bets will be a bit more conservative for the near term. A SaaS bet is safer and, hence, more likely, at least in the short term.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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