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Nerds can't read

Two things you need to take note of ahead of time, in case you’re not keeping track. First, Google’s new OS is called Google Chrome OS. This is not a strange mis-branding. There’s a reason the word Chrome is in it. The second thing lays it out pretty simply, from the fourth paragraph of the official blog post announcing Google Chrome OS:

Google Chrome OS will run on both x86 as well as ARM chips and we are working with multiple OEMs to bring a number of netbooks to market next year. The software architecture is simple — Google Chrome running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel. For application developers, the web is the platform. All web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite web technologies. And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform.

So Google Chrome OS is a stripped-down OS that can only display a full-screen version of Google Chrome. Why are so many people making so many hilariously uninformed statements about it?

Robert Cringely (whose name is, as always, eponysterical):

2. Let’s hope Chrome the OS is a lot better than Chrome the browser, which was the buggiest Google product I’ve ever used. Nimble and innovative, for sure, but also occasionally maddening.

I’ve got bad news for you, Robert.

Sarah Perez at ReadWriteWeb:

Will Chrome OS Run Firefox?

No. Firefox is a program. Chrome OS doesn’t run programs.

Ars Technica:

From a security perspective, Google claims that it will be “completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS” in a way that eliminates virus and malware worries. The sandboxing and process isolation that Google has built into the Chrome browser undoubtedly provide much of that security, so it’s unclear what will have to happen at the OS level; it’s possible that Google will be looking at ways to extend this level of security to third party apps.

There aren’t third party apps, folks. There are web sites. The only security layer is the browser.

Dan Lyons:

It’s going to be free. So what’s the point? I mean I understand the idea of a loss leader. We don’t charge for iTunes. You’ll notice, however, that we do charge money for music and hardware. But how does this concept apply to Chrome OS? Somehow if you put out a new operating system you’ll get more people using the Internet and then you’ll be able to sell more of those shitty little ads? Forgive me if I’m missing something here, but I don’t see how a free OS or a free browser helps Google.

Okay, I’ll be honest— I can’t tell if Lyons is serious about this or if he’s just trying to be “in-character” as Fake Steve Jobs. Does he really not realize that the ads are the whole thing? Please tell me he gets that. Google’s 2008 total revenue was 21.8 billion dollars.

Douglas Rushkoff comes close to not embarassing himself, but then:

The most legitimate concern, of course, is whether a Google OS will end up centralizing control of software and data in a previously decentralized universe. I’d have to say no. Being essentially forced to use Microsoft Word by a Windows-addicted industrial complex is no better; worse, in fact, because I have to pay for the bloated program. By taking away our need to own software individually, Google is not taking away the equivalent of our right to bear arms; it is simply exposing how little agency all of our store-bought software packages afforded us in the first place.

You’re right that it’s not a concern. But it’s not legitimate, either: Google has no more of a stranglehold on online word processing than Microsoft does on client-side word processing. If you don’t like Google Docs, use Zoho or Zimbra or any number of alternatives. THE WHOLE THING IS A WEB BROWSER YOU GUYS HOW ARE PEOPLE NOT GETTING THIS

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! You’re lucky I can’t find the people who were asking whether or not Google Chrome OS would “run VLC or The GIMP”. Are these posts just being automatically generated by looking at words in the existing coverage and chaining together related keywords?

It doesn’t seem to matter if you love Google Chrome OS or you hate it: nerds who care about and are writing about Google Chrome OS don’t seem to be paying attention to what it is and why it exists. It’s been frustrating to be totally unable to avoid a massive display of ignorance all around me today, both on the internet and in conversations overheard from passersby.