10 Mistakes Google Is Making with Chrome OS

News Analysis: Google's Chrome OS might be exciting to some, but so far, Google has made some major missteps that could cost it serious revenue when the operating system is released. The search and cloud computing giant needs to recognize those mistakes and address them soon or accept a permanent reduction to the operating system's long-term value.

As 2009 comes to an end and the technology industry looks ahead to 2010, it's Chrome OS that could arguably steal the show in the new year. It will be the first desktop operating system Google has ever released. It will also be released with one goal in mind: to beat Windows 7 wherever and whenever it can.

That's a tall order, for sure. Microsoft reigns supreme in the operating system space. Windows 7, unlike its predecessor Windows Vista, has an opportunity to solidify Microsoft's position with an experience that bests other operating systems on the market. So as Google prepares its Chrome OS for release, it can't make any mistakes. The more mistakes the company makes, the more difficult it will be for Google to compete. Simply put, Microsoft has applied pressure that will dictate Google's moves going forward.

However, Google has already made mistakes. The search giant is focused on the wrong things. And that could come back to haunt it. Let's take a look at some of the areas where Google has gone wrong.

1. A Chrome OS netbook

Reports are swirling that Google is planning to release a Chrome OS-based netbook of its own. Those rumors are becoming increasingly more detailed, leading many to believe that the search giant is, in fact, releasing a PC of its own. It better not. If Google releases a Chrome OS netbook, it could spell serious trouble for its platform. Third-party vendors would shy away from offering Chrome OS computers, since the software owner is doing the same. Even if Google isn't, all these rumors can't help its cause with vendors. Stay away from netbooks, Google. And make sure everyone knows about your plans to stick with software.

2. The focus on netbooks

An online operating system can't necessarily be expected to face off with Windows out of the box, but why Google has limited the OS to netbooks is a mystery at this point. Google didn't need to rush to offer Chrome OS. Microsoft and Apple are content with the desktop. The company could have improved the offering so it would work well with netbooks and desktops. It might take longer, but it would also be of far more value to the consumer. By offering Chrome OS on netbooks alone, Google runs the risk of being the company that offers an operating system for underpowered devices. Does it really want that?

3. How do third parties factor in?

Third-party software is why Microsoft is so successful today. The company has welcomed third-party software for decades. That policy has solidified its position in the enterprise. It also added significant value to its operating system on the consumer side. For now, how Google plans to bring third-party software to its platform is largely a mystery. Since the operating system is Web-based, we might presume that applications that work within the OS will need to be available as online services. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but what about all those useful applications already available on the desktop? By cutting out such a huge portion of the software market, Google might find itself in worse trouble than it expects.

4. Locking users into Chrome

Chrome OS will only work with Google's Chrome browser. At first glance, that might make some sense. Why would Google want to bring its own software to any other browser? But when one considers that Chrome is being used by only a small portion of the browser market, it becomes blatantly clear that Google is, once again, cutting out a huge portion of its market. Users don't like being locked down to certain software packages-just ask Microsoft.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...