Reports are suggesting that Google Chrome OS for enterprise users will be available in 2011. Google has yet to make a definitive statement on it, but it seems rather likely that the search giant will work toward offering the service sooner rather than later, so it can capitalize on the burgeoning netbook market in the corporate world.
The enterprise has waited too long to find a viable alternative to Windows. And although it still has a long way to go, Chrome OS might just be that alternative.
But before we crown Google’s Web-based browser a Windows killer in the enterprise, it’s important to consider what it needs to feature to even get close to competing with Microsoft’s operating system.
Windows is the dominant player in the enterprise. It’s relied upon by companies looking for increased productivity and compatibility with applications. Simply put, Microsoft has cornered the corporate OS market, and Google will need to work hard to break into it.
Let’s take a look at some of the features Chrome OS must boast when it’s eventually offered to businesses.
If there’s anything that corporate employees really want, it’s speed. They want to be able to perform tasks as quickly as possible, so they can get on to the next one. Currently, Windows is a little slow. Google can capitalize on that. If Chrome OS runs quickly enough on a netbook, the company could use it as a marketing tool. Make it fast, Google. That’s step one.
Chrome OS will be running on a netbook at first, so we can’t expect too much power from it. That said, corporate employees need more than an average, run-of-the-mill consumer-friendly netbook. Even on a mobile PC, corporate needs are greater than those of consumers. Google needs to realize that and improve its operating system accordingly.
It’s extremely important that Chrome OS work with legacy products companies are currently using. It’s understandable if older devices or peripherals don’t work, but some products will be necessities for companies. Part of the reason for Microsoft’s dominance in the corporate space is its compatibility with all the hardware and services that companies currently employ. If Google even wants to make a mark in the enterprise, it needs to work on compatibility.
4. Strong support
Companies will undoubtedly have trouble with Chrome OS. Since its something totally different from Windows, employees will run into issues that could cripple their productivity. That’s precisely why a strong support system is so necessary. IT professionals need to be able to contact Google with issues and have the Web company respond with actionable solutions. Microsoft’s customer support might not be the best on the market, but it works. Google’s must work too.
Security, Data Backup Essential for Enterprise Adoption
5. Developer support
As important as legacy products are to companies, so are their applications. Currently, the vast majority of software packages that companies use are only capable of running on Windows. For many applications, working on a netbook is impossible. But Google needs to ensure that simpler applications will work on Chrome OS. That means it should play nice with developers and give them the latitude they require to get their products working with Chrome OS. Google can’t follow Apple’s example. It needs to open Chrome OS up to any developer.
6. Security features galore
Security is a major issue for corporate customers. They need to know that if they transmit sensitive data over the Web, information won’t be made available to malicious hackers. They should also be sure that the operating system they’re using is secure from other threats. That’s up to Google. If the Web company wants to be a successful enterprise-OS provider, security needs to be a priority.
7. Backup solutions
Windows 7 currently offers several backup features, making it easy for users to save important data. Chrome OS needs to boast similar offerings. Losing data is a nightmare for corporate customers. If Google can offer software that makes it easier for companies to back up their data, it could mean huge rewards for the search giant. Security is important, but so is keeping data backed up.
8. Offline mode
If corporate employees don’t have access to the Web, they need to be able to continue being productive. I understand that Chrome OS is Web-based, which means it’s only really useful if there is a live Internet connection pumping through the computer, but companies won’t appreciate that. An offline mode will allow employees to keep working, regardless of an Internet connection. When they link back up with the Internet, then they can sync all their progress with Chrome OS online. An offline mode is a must-have.
9. A more powerful Google Docs
Google Docs is great for consumers who want a simple, free productivity suite. But for companies, the software falls flat. Google needs to drastically improve Google Docs and make it a more appealing alternative to Microsoft Office. If it can achieve that goal, it’s possible that more companies will try out Google’s operating system. If not, few companies will leave Microsoft’s side.
10. An eye on Microsoft
The beauty of Chrome OS is that it’s open source. That differentiates the product from Windows. But if Google wants its service to steal some market share away from Redmond, it needs to watch what Microsoft is up to. Numerous times before, Microsoft has beaten companies that have challenged Windows. And although Google is powerful and a major contender, Microsoft is huge too. It has the cash and power to take down Google.
If Google wants to be successful in the enterprise, it needs to keep a close eye on Ballmer and Company.