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Will Dell Dump Windows for Google's Chrome OS?

Those of you who think that PCs are on their way out might want to think again. IDC says that PC sales will grow 20 percent this year, meaning that Microsoft's Windows cash cow should keep mooing and grazing for quite a while to come.

Unless Dell starts herding it toward the slaughterhouse. The Texas PC maker, not the powerhouse it once was but certainly still relevant, is talking to Google about running the Chrome operating system on its laptops -- rather than Windows, maybe. Now, this story hasn't gotten all that much play yet, but we at RCPU think that it could end up being a pretty big deal.

Everything's a bit sketchy right now -- all we know is that Dell is in talks with Google. We don't know how this will play out, whether Dell plans to ditch Windows or exactly which devices it might ship with Chrome OS installed. What we do know, though, is that Dell is apparently looking at running Chrome on laptops and possibly on its Streak mini-tablet, which is supposed to debut in the U.S. in July.

Why should partners care about this? Well, for one, a major PC manufacturer pulling away from Windows would represent a massive shift in the OS landscape. It would also signal a potential enterprise move away from Windows, which could threaten the services and applications a lot of partners provide.

Beyond that, Windows and Office are Microsoft's money products. They keep the wheels turning in Redmond. A big revenue hit in one of those areas -- like the one Microsoft experienced at the depth of the Vista debacle -- could have serious consequences for Microsoft, and therefore for partners, financially.

Still, it's really hard to imagine a PC maker just dumping Windows. It's so familiar and ubiquitous that consumers and enterprises (especially enterprises) are highly unlikely to just dump it cold turkey. Besides, it works with everything else in the Microsoft infrastructure, whereas Chrome OS is a bit of an unknown quantity in that sense. We can imagine Dell offering Chrome as an option, but not as the go-to OS for its PCs. And we can't imagine all that many customers buying into Chrome -- for now.

Microsoft, though, has finally had an enemy breach its most secure market-share perimeter. If Dell does start offering Google OS, we'll have to see whether it plays out better than, say, Linux-based machines have for PC manufacturers. And we'll also get a sense for just how strong Windows 7 and the Microsoft franchise really are.

Would you buy a PC with Chrome OS on it? Would you sell one? Send your thoughts to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on June 21, 2010 at 11:56 AM

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Reader Comments

Fri, Jun 25, 2010 Beaton Nyamapanda Windhoek, Namibia

The world does not revolve around America, where conenctivity is taken for granted. Most continents are only slowly beginnning to get onto the internet bandwagon (Africa being one of them) so i dont think they would be entirely comfortable not having access to their data 83% which is when they are offline. The dual boot option however makes sense, not running it as a primary operating system. Sometimes all i need is a quick peek at the emails and Facebook!

Wed, Jun 23, 2010

Sorry, confused after losing my connection to the cloud. Amen, Tom. Amen...

Wed, Jun 23, 2010

Amen, Tim. Amen...

Tue, Jun 22, 2010 Tom

So we're back to the mainframe and dumbterminal days, eh? I'll bet if you use the word MAINFRAME instead of CLOUD then people will be like, 'huh? no way!', but people just lovvvee their buzzwords. The biggest enemies Microsoft and Apple have are 'hype' and buzzwords like 'open (whatever)'. I have a friend who had an iPhone he loved but then replaced it with a Droid. When I asked him what he didn't like about the iPhone he said, "Oh I loved it! It just wasn't open", to which I replied, "Do you even know what that means?", and he said no but he 'likes open stuff' - I've heard that same nonsense numerous times. Anyhow, perhaps some will entrust all their processing/storage to the cloud but not I (with some exceptions of course). And hey, if everything goes to the cloud then I guess we can buy systems with low mem & proc pwr right? Semiconductor firms will just love that. I once admired Google for their search engine but now,,, no way will I use anything of theirs and will gladly pay for my products/services.

Tue, Jun 22, 2010 Dr Bob Hacker Texas

Dell, Microsoft and Intel are in essence one company. Lots of Windows code (stuff that works) was written by Intel. Chrome descends from Intel's Moblin, a version of Linux. Google seems a bit different, but all their stuff is Beta forever. Could be an opportunity for a new start from scratch OS written in something like Eiffel!

Tue, Jun 22, 2010 FJF Iowa

What are you smoking Bender. It would not be a good business decision or realistic for Dell to dump Windows. A good decision is to offer multiple operating systems to accomodate the whole market.

Mon, Jun 21, 2010 Lee Pender Waltham, Mass.

Nah, the sky's not falling. Again, I don't see Dell dumping Windows anytime soon. But you have to admit that the notion of Chrome OS on laptops is intriguing, especially as momentum builds around the cloud and the traditional OS becomes less and less important. By the way, Mr. Anderson, a former colleague of mine used to have a lava lamp in his office. I loved that thing. Made total sense to me...

Mon, Jun 21, 2010 Mr.Anderson San Jose, CA USA

@LeePender: "The sky is falling, the sky falling!" According to the original Reuters report nobody at DELL said anything about "dumping" Windows. Which btw, is a full-blown PC operating system, not a slimmed-down "mobile OS" like the Chrome OS (and, Windows 7 Phone). Also, Google's "free" software comes at a very high price: their intsatiatble appetite to index all data is a growing security threat. I know, it's just a blog, not real journalism, but this piece is about as coherent as a Lava Lamp.

Mon, Jun 21, 2010 Paul

Google’s Chrome OS – Let the excitement begin. I’m using Google Chrome Browser 6.0.437.3 dev and its awesome. I feel Google’s Chrome OS has a lot of promise and can herald something new and great. Google rocks! With such a great OS for free, prices of PC’s should become even more competitive!

Mon, Jun 21, 2010

I use GMail, but hate it, along with everything else Google has brought forth in its attempts to diversify beyond search. They stand less chance of successfully diversifying themselves than Oracle, who despite lots of money wasted, does nothing more than databases worth mentioning. Level of interest in a Google OS? Absolutely zero. Chances I'd ever, in a million years, buy a laptop lacking a Windows OS from any vendor or worse, a laptop running a Google OS? Less than absolutely zero. Google's run at world domination is over - time we all move on...

Mon, Jun 21, 2010

I think that they wouldon ly be looking at ChromeOS as a dual boot option. Boot into Chrome for a quick email, note, music and boot into the full windows OS for apps like Office and such. I would not be suprised if this is in answer to rumors that Apple may do the same thing with iOS on MACs.

Mon, Jun 21, 2010 Mitesh Santa Clara, CA

I like their minimalistic approach, eg Chrome browser, I am just loving it. I would buy a laptop with Chrome OS too, provided it does support MS products, bc I use it a lot!!

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