Archive for 'News'
It seems unlikely, what I wrote in the title. But it’s still comical to witness the fact that Microsoft’s Security Essentials software is seemingly removing copies of Chrome on users’ computers. I must admit, I think that Security Essentials is actually a good piece of software. It’s a free virus scanning and protection program that the company offers to help thwart what has been some very bad publicity over malicious software through the years.
Could it be possible that Microsoft is purposely trying to hold down Chrome? While it’s hard to put it past them, one would think that the company should know better than to try and participate in anti-competitive practices that would threaten put them into a litigious situation. Even though they have been known to put themselves in that particular position in the past.
And while Microsoft is claiming that the issue is a bug, last week Google posted a blog article explaining the situation and how to reinstall Chrome without incident. Surprising to me that the removal of a competitor’s software could possibly be construed as a “bug” and identifying it as a piece of malware called “PWS:Win32/Zbot” but I guess anything is plausible in Microsoft-land.
Look, Microsoft has a hold of the enterprise market for the time being. And Security Essentials is aimed squarely at the consumer market. I could understand if Security Essentials caused Chrome not to run, but a complete removal of the software? Come on. While it may be problematic from Microsoft’s perspective that Chrome is installed in the user profile file structure, it is still under “Google” and then “Chrome”, causing the removal of “chrome.exe”. Is that an accident?
I’m just bringing up these questions. At the same time, as I’ve stated above, it would be extremely dumb for Microsoft to think that they would be able to get away with this. Of course, they used to think that all software must cost money, which doesn’t always seem to be the case these days.
via LA Times
I probably don’t really need to rehash the news that the Chromium codebase is showing signs that the Chrome browser is coming to Android devices. From a standards standpoint, doing this makes sense. Google wants to create similar browsing experience regardless of what device a user is accessing the web from, and there had been rumblings that this type of convergence was going to arrive at some point anyways. What’s more interesting is that Android is built for the cheap, energy sipping ARM processor architecture.
That’s a departure from Intel-based devices that Chrome OS run off of right now. And while the Atom series f processors do a good job, my experience with them in the first generation Chromebooks can leave room for more processing muscle. While having a few tabs open on a Chromebook is really not that big of a deal, it becomes much more problematic when you try to run, say, Pandora, YouTube and several Google Apps instances all at once.
This can be a problem, especially for companies that are interested in signing up for the Chromebooks for Business program. One of the things that still needs to be resolved is solid HTML5 virtualization in order to take the place of native installed applications users expect from a customary Windows experience. And sure, for work purposes people won’t be running Pandora, YouTube and Google Apps (I hope). But they still will need to be running relatively complex applications to do their work.
These types of webapps are a step above your typical web page. I often wonder, because of this, if using a dual core Intel processor is really enough. If it proves over time to be really limited, then Intel would need to theoretically chip in with a more expensive power hungry processor, barring some technological leap. But for the time being it appears that Google and Intel have some kind of deal in place to make sure that Atom processors are shipped out with Chrome OS device.
Yes, it’s still early days. I still believe in the potential of thin clients in both the retail and enterprise markets, but my prediction is that it’s going to take much longer than I first anticipated. It seems that along with this processor situation, Google has steadfastly tried to keep Android and Chrome very much two separate entities. I’m starting to wonder, then, if perhaps the best strategy going forward might be for the retail sector to work with Android – going up against Apple. Then, the Chrome OS side can go up against Microsoft in the enterprise market.
The inclusion of Chrome on Android doesn’t make this division any clearer. It’s a promotion of Chrome, for sure, and users will be able to sync up their Chrome instances. But where does this put the Chrome Operating System?
One of the most overlooked elements of the Chrome OS hardware retail efforts (call them Chromebooks, if you will) is that since their launch over two months ago, one could only buy a new one through two outlets. One was Amazon, and the other was Best Buy’s website. You cannot waltz into a store and buy a Chromebook. The reasoning behind this has been that Google doesn’t want unsuspecting buyers to walk into a retail store an accidently purchase a Chromebook that cannot have native applications installed.
Well, one more online outlet has gotten into the Chromebook game in TigerDirect, a company known for selling computer hardware on the cheap.
It should be noted that the Chromebook offerings that are located on Tiger’s site are priced the exact same as both Amazon and Best Buy for the time being. As time goes on, and more models are introduced I would expect there to be more competition in terms of price, but for the time being it’s pretty homogenous where you buy your Chrome OS device from.
At some point soon, especially with the holiday season coming up, I would think that Google would begin to expand their Chromebook retail sources. I often wonder whether they over thought the strategy of leaving Chromebooks out of brick and mortar stores. The target market for these computers would seem to target the buyers that specifically go to outlets like Best Buy to get more understanding on what they are purchasing.
That’s why I think Best Buy over time will have a major influence in sales of Chromebooks. Giving their online store early access to selling them was a smart move by Google. The question is, what kind of incentive can Google provide to Best Buy in order to have them tout Chromebooks as a superior choice over clunky Windows devices for some buyers?
via Chrome Story
There was once a time not long ago that the business market was dominated by Microsoft and IBM. But some organizations are coming to the conclusion that complex and overly expensive infrastructures are not always the most ideal implementations for IT solutions, especially now that there are some alternatives within the market.
Indeed, research firm Gartner seems to conclude this with a new report that says Gmail is the defacto cloud email supplier at this point, nothing that competitors such as VMWare have struggled to maintain any sort of focus on their own email product, dubbed Zimbra.
And despite the detractors out there that dismiss Gmail as a solid solution, Gartner predicts that cloud-based email clients such as Gmail will zoom to 20 percent of the market by 2016 and to 55 percent by 2020. That’s up from the current miniscule share of only one percent of the overall market currently.
As much as Chrome and Chrome OS is trying to make inroads with the retail market, an entire generation of workers who have grown up with Google’s free services clearly will see the benefit of using the Google Apps suite of productivity tools in the workplace. It seems intuitive: it’s only a matter of time when these individuals won’t even require training and change management for that software because it will already be built into their consciousness as a result of the past ten years of Google services.
That’s not to say that Microsoft or IBM are going to go anywhere. Business environments will continue to become more complex, requiring both companies’ services. We’ll likely see Google moving up this tier in the long run as well, as consulting services and providing unique capabilities is what is the cream in terms of revenue in the business market.
Gartner also suggests that many organizations may never be able to fully switch to Google Apps, due to compliance issues. It’s probably that certain divisions of companies might be able to switch, while others might not, offering more of a hybrid model than ever before.
That’s all fine and well, but that brings IT environments into somewhat of a piecemeal-type of layout. With some areas of a company using, say, IBM Lotus Notes and others using Gmail, that could very well become a nightmare for IT personnel barring some unforeseen tools to help manage users in this way. Thus, it’s a concept that in the past has not been explored to a high degree, so it will be interesting to see how that may work out. Despite this, Gartner suggests that the remaining 45% may be using IBM or Microsoft in 2020, but that does not indicate whether there may be a complex, secure cloud solution from either of those two companies.
Late last week, Google made the announcement that Native Client has arrived to that stable version of Chrome, now at version 14. This essentially means that lower-level languages such as C++ can now be used for apps in the Chrome Web Store. At some point in the near future, with a technology called Portable Native Client, this will expand to encompass any application that may want to use this technology regardless if it has inclusion in Google’s own web application directory, a sign of some degree of openness in an environment that has often be criticized as being more closed than it should be.
An experimental version of this technology first appeared as a Chrome Lab in “about:flags” late last year in the browser, and Google has finally made it a regular feature of the browser, which will bode well for overall performance.
This is a significant step to be sure, but it makes one wonder what impact it will have, if at all, on the performance of the Cr-48 and Chromebooks that are on the market today. With all things considered, there are still some issues with Chromebooks being able to run certain web applications even with a dual core Atom processor as opposed to the Cc-48′s single core that can sometimes struggle to output video.
I often wonder if performance is one of the reasons that Chromebooks will not gain traction as quickly as some, such as Anton Wahlman from The Street, had predicted. While Native Client is one solution to this problem, it’s not going to be the be-all end-all that some might think in order to allow this market to grow. It’s going to take a number of elements combined in order for that to happen.
The onus on Native Client actually is on independent developers. That’s going to take time. What Google can do right now is try to do their best in optimizing future hardware devices that can perform at a higher level than these first generation device. While I do think that the current crop of Chromebooks are ably suited to business environs, the generally consumer that wants to enjoy media and interactive, processor intensive webapps are being left behind right now.
Sure, this inaugural set of devices are great early adopter machines, it seems to me that Google is going to have to aggressively move into the ARM-based processor segment in order to capture the consumer market when it comes to Chrome OS. The advantage between a person buy a regular computer versus a Chrome OS device comes down to simplicity. But you’re unable to play complex games while running Pandora and having your Gmail open, all advantages at that point go straight down the drain.
Look, Android didn’t take off until Motorola came out with a killer device for the operating system with the first iteration of the Droid phone. Many people didn’t think that Android would be able to survive in the phone market, and a lot of that in hindsight had to do with the devices that were available prior to the Droid.
Am I saying that Chrome OS will follow the same path from obscurity to popularity just because of what happened to Android? Not really. But it’s clear that Google’s purchase of Motorola gives me strong suggestions that they eagerly want to follow the same playbook. And that’s going to involve utilizing smaller, more efficient processors that can ably use Native Client to its full potential.
Google has made inroads in terms of advertising Chrome, and while watching football earlier this week I saw an ambitious project that features a farewell tribute to musician Johnny Cash through a webapp that pieces together scenes created from users to create a montage that features the music and thematics of the late singer.
The project involves director Chris Milk, whom you may remember from the Arcade Fire Chrome collaboration/ interactive music video called “The Wilderness Downtown”.
This Johnny Cash and Chrome ad spot is one you might not see to often on the television. That’s because it runs for a minute and a half. It’s ambitious in scope and shows why people would want to switch to Chrome because the things that Google are doing with these types of interactive projects show that browsers are not just for showing web pages any
There is an interestingly named tool called Swiffy that is designed to allow developers to easily convert Flash (.swf) files to HTML5. A lot of you are probably thinking “So what? What exactly does this mean for us, and why should we really care all that much in the first place?” A good question, for sure. Why should you care?
The answer is simple. There are, sadly, a lot of devices out there that are simply incompatible with the Flash format. For example…the iPhone. For mobile devices without Flash support, running Flash-like animations was generally impossible without a third party extension for your device. As a result, many devices simply went without. Swiffy’s going to change that, naturally. It’ll allow you to use Flash content on devices that don’t have a Flash player, and its webkit ensures that it’ll function in browsers like Chrome and Safari. Wait, it runs in Chrome? Why?
The Story Of Swiffy
The idea for the program came from an engineering intern- a new hire who joined the mobile ad team last summer and has since become a full-time member of the team. Pieter Senster noticed that there wasn’t really any cohesive solution to the issues which arose when one attempted to run flash content. He wanted to change this, particularly where it pertained to mobile ads. Thus, the idea behind Swiffy was born. No word on who came up with the name- it sounds like an imitation of the Swiffer brand of cleaning products.
Anyway, The tool’s evidently incredibly simple to use, as well- all you need to to is upload a .swf file, and Swiffy will return it in HTML5 format. Since it just debuted in the labs, it’s naturally still in its early stages- so it can’t convert all flash content. Not yet, anyway.
I’m sure that once the tool is complete and out of the labs, it’ll be able to convert pretty much any .swf file from its native format into HTML5- allowing anyone, anywhere to view flash. It’s pretty clear that a technology like this is mostly for mobile users, isn’t it? People who run devices without a native flash player. Of course, mobile devices don’t really concern us, do they? What we really want to know is what this means for Google. More specifically, we want to know what this means for Chrome.
Swiffy and Chrome
Given that Chrome already has a shockwave plugin, it seems kind of strange that Google would be looking into making Swiffy functional in Chrome, doesn’t it? I’m not really sure what their motivation is, here- after all, they’re supposedly partnered with Adobe to integrate Flash support into the Chrome browser. Why would they bother developing a program like this? One word for you folks: ads. See, a lot of Google’s ads are in .swf format. And, since a lot of devices don’t support flash, that means a lot of users don’t see Google’s ads. You’re following me here, right?
Or maybe you’re still wondering when the hell I’m going to address what this means for Chrome.
Right. Well, I’m sure at least a few of you have noticed that the shockwave plugin has been behaving…just a touch odd lately. Perhaps it’s just me, but I noticed some time back that it was crashing a hell of a lot more than usual- and a hell of a lot more than it should. Pretty sure I’ve remedied that problem for the time being, but there’s always a chance it might come back in full force. A tool like Swiffy means that those of us fed up with shockwave flash can do away with the plugin if it doesn’t eventually start playing nice with the browser again.
There is another route Google could potentially go with Swiffy, as well. It could be that, while Google’s still looking to integrate flash, they also want to give their users the option to make the browser fully HTML5. I’m not sure what they- or Adobe, for that matter- would gain from this, but there it is. It’s either that, or they want to release a version of Chrome without shockwave flash support- unlikely as that seems.
It’s all speculation, one way or the other. We’ll just have to see what Google does with Swiffy once it’s finished.
Google’s new social networking service has reached twenty million members, according to data from ComScore. ComScore doesn’t have any official word from Google on this one- they’ve evidently based their estimates on a “global measurement panel” consisting of two million web users.
Those are good numbers – but the reality is that the number was passed in early August. When trying to research the numbers for where the service is at today, there really are no solid answers. It starts to make one wonder whether Google+ is starting to peter out – and it’s not something that is welcome news, but just an observation.
However, first and foremost, the service is still technically a closed environment- last I checked, if users want to sign up for Google +, they need to get someone who’s already signed up for the site to invite them (speaking of which, anyone who wants to nab an invite can drop me a line). You can’t simply sign up for Google +. With that in mind, the statistic becomes a little more impressive, doesn’t it? That’s not all, either- even more shocking is the fact that Google hasn’t actually even begun officially marketing the service on their search engine- most of what’s been circulating about G + has been word of mouth.
Not only that…Facebook took over two years to get past the twenty million mark- Google + took 23 days.
“I’ve never seen anything grow this quickly” said Andrew Lipsman, Comscore’s Vice President of Industry Analysis. “The only other site that matched this kind of visitor accumulation in a short period of time is Twitter back in 2009- but that happened over several months.” It seems as if Google’s got their finger on the pulse of the social network at exactly the right moment- when Facebook and Twitter both launched, social networking was a very different beast. They’ve changed it. They’ve popularized it. And now, Google + is capitalizing on that by doing what they do- only better. Plus, the fact that they provide a viable alternative to Facebook-which seems to be one of the more popular businesses to hate on these days- is icing on the cake.
There’s the added benefit of how well browser addons seem to interact with G +: particularly addons for Chrome via extensions. In only a few short weeks, we’ve seen more Google + inspired applications and extensions surface in the webstore than we’ve seen for Facebook since Chrome launched- and many of those are geared towards helping users make the switch between social networks. Something tells me that if things keep going the way they’re going, those kinds of extensions are going to be seeing a lot more use. Granted, we’ve yet to see many Google + apps that are specifically designed within the platform- but as the devs have a bit more time to fiddle around with the Google + developer kit, the applications will eventually come.
There’s still a long road ahead for Google +- Facebook has over 750 million, and Twitter over 200 million. Given those rather staggering numbers, 20 million kind of seems like a drop in the bucket, doesn’t it? Of course, if Google + continues to grow at the same rate it has been in its fast start, that road might be rather quickly traversed.
When the Chrome Web Store was first announced, it received a ton of fanfare throughout the blogging world. At some point in time, after it’s official launch, however, many derided the browser-based app directory as nothing more than a series of “bookmarks” that led to rich web-based functionality.
Despite the criticism, it appears that the Web Store is on an upward trajectory that does not seem to be at any leveling off point in the future. Indeed, a recent chart of aggregated data provided to me from as far back as its launch that is evidential of that fact.
While this does show that during the spring and summer of this year it is evident that the number of users was not far beyond the number of applications available, something happened around the May-June timeframe that has fueled user growth and subsequent interest in Chrome webapps.
The fact that Chromebooks began their early presales in June with a mid month launch suggests that the true source of growth for the Chrome Web Store can only come from an uptick in the sales of Chromebooks. Since you cannot install native applications on a Chromebook, it’s clear that this is likely to be a strong correlation.
I often wonder about the motivation of developers to continue to support the Chrome Web Store platform, as although we have seen some outliers, there doesn’t appear to be very many developers on this platform that are making a tidy some through this marketplace. It may prove to be that Chromebooks are actually best suited for business applications in the future, and as a result the best place for a developer to make money on web-based operating system software might be a more enterprise-focused resource such as the Google Apps Marketplace with easily connects into the Google Apps ecosystem.
Here are the month-over-month stats where user and application information on the Chrome Web Store for 2011 was available.
Date Users Apps
2/1/11 6,336,467 2,419
3/1/11 10,974,670 3,000
4/1/11 12,600,132 3,530
5/1/11 13,246,677 3,804
6/1/11 17,647,836 4,569
7/1/11 21,784,029 4,819
8/1/11 24,527,281 4,601
9/1/11 27,848,839 6,013
How much do you value the Chrome Web Store outside of Chromebooks?
via Chrome OS Apps
“A writer always writes. Always.” Billy Crystal said that in “Throw Momma From The Train.” Wasn’t the most sane character in the movie, but good advice nonetheless. Cloud Computing enables one to access their work/workspace from any computer. In some cases, even a cell phone. Cloud computing makes it easier than ever to follow that advice.
An essential component of the writing process is the composting of your ideas. I have two tools that help me do this: A Moleskin (yes, those expensive things) which I use to keep scribblings of random thoughts and ideas and Penzu, an online journal which I can access through any computer, preferably my Chromebook. (You can only do this via Penzu Pro. More on that later.) Personally, I do like to put pen to paper for the shorter thoughts so I use a Moleskin, but one could use a program like Simple Note to “capture” one’s random thoughts, and in some ways, could be a bit more convenient, especially if you have the program on your smartphone.
I use Penzu for everything from writing “longer” scribblings I’m compelled to put to digital format to longer ramblings which I may or may not share with the world later on. My moleskin scribblings frequently become seeds for my Penzu entries that usually run over 500 words per entry, which is the quota I try to keep. “A writer always writes. Always.” — Billy Chrystal, Throw Momma from the Train.
So, you now you ask: an online journal. Couldn’t you use just any blogger platform for that?
I suppose you could, but there are several features Penzu offers which sets it apart from your standard blogger app. Penzu is designed to be used as a private journal rather than a means to publish articles on the Internet. “Private” is its default mode, meaning every entry you write will not be seen by others.
Penzu’s interface seeks to emulate a journal page and it succeeds beautifully. In full screen mode, this is especially evident. There is a room for the title, the date is automatically entered for you and can be modified. As you write, a draft is automatically saved which is very helpful when you are in the heat of your rhapsodising. You can concentrate on your inspiration and just getting those thoughts down.
Photos can be easily uploaded from your computer or Flicker and links can easily be embedded on the page. All entries are search-able and can be tagged, utilizing the benefits of digitized text. Helpful for bringing together the free-flowing ideas you have recorded previously that may be related.
You can use Penzu for free. Just sign up and start writing. However, a yearly subscription of $19 will get you a Penzu Pro account which will add some features that you may find very handy like interface customizability and other features like the ability to e-mail an entry to your journal. One recently added feature is the “Help” button which can give you some writing ideas if you need inspiration. Remember writers: consistency is key, just keep those words flowing even when the well of ideas feels like it’s gone dry. Being given a topic to write about can aide in this.
Penzu Pro allows for a user to keep multiple journals. All your journals can be downloaded to your computer. There is no question: the data you keep in Penzu is yours and can do with it what you wish. If you have another digital journals, these can be uploaded.
Besides the fact that you have a password to log into your Penzu account, there are additional privacy features that one may utilize in Penzu Pro. You can encrypt your journal and even specific entries. No more worrying about whether someone will take a peek at your ramblings and jucy confessions when you are away.
You can say, Penzu offers the benefits of both a paper journal and a digital one.
Distraction Free Writing:
Having all those great ideas, rambling floating around in your moleskin and/or “cloud” journal isn’t enough to produce. I think of those things like making clay. A “mass” of thoughts, ideas, impressions have been created. Now it’s time to shape them into a definite statement, a first draft.
For this stage, I use a “Distraction Free” text editor that lets me focus on the writing at hand. To paraphrase Brittany Spears, it’s just me and the words, baby. There are many such editors out there. Some of them cost money, but the good news is The Chrome App Store carries a selection and most are free! Just do a search for “writing” and they’ll pop up. My favorite is Pillarbox. This is the best one I’ve found so far, and yes, it is one of the free ones. I love typewriter scrolling and Pillarbox is the first Chrome App to offer this feature. (That I know of anyway.) You just type and the text scrolls up as you stay focused on the line at hand. If Heminway could do it, so can you! Another plus is that Pillarbox requires no internet access. If you by chance close your browser window, your text will still be there the next time you open the application.
You can’t — as of yet — save documents in Pillarbox. It’s not that big of deal really. When I’m done with my first draft, I just cut and paste it to Google Docs for further editing to the final draft. An on-line based word processor is probably what you want to use for editing anyway. One thing to keep in mind is that Pillarbox doesn’t sync text between browsers even you have enabled the “sync” in Chrome, at least not yet. This is likely to change in the future. Until then, you will want to cut and paste your text and save it in Google Docs or the like if you plan to access this draft from another computer.
This is the stage where I use Google docs exclusively. I know there are other online office suites out there, but Google Docs does fine by me. Not really much more I can say about it. Not really a fancy office suite, but Google really knows how to provide the essential features the majority of people which results in a nice, clean interface.So there you have it. A Cloud Based Workflow for writers. Happy writing!
Have you noticed the icon for Scratchpad has changed from yellow to silver in your Chromebook? I refrained using Scratchpad for many weeks, because it just felt too buggy. I almost forgot about it, in fact, but it has recently been revamped to be a much more usable. With the latest upgrade, Scratchpad seems to have matured (finally) to its true potential.
Currently, if you open Scratchpad from Chrome and compare it to the interface that is displayed in the Chrome Web Store, you will see quite a difference.
Here is a list of new/improved features:
Google Docs Sync: While you can choose to run the application strictly locally, its seamless integration with Google Docs comes in real handy. All your Scratchpad notes will be tagged “Scratchpad” in Google Docs. You also have the option of staring any particular note that suits your fancy for your own personal system of organization. You can even star your note so it will appear in your starred documents in Google Docs. (NOTE: to to get this feature, you need to be authorize the application with your Google Account.)
Title Notes: Now, you are able title your notes on the top panel of the app.
Formatting Options: You now have more formatting options, which appear in a thin bottom pane. The options are: color, fonts, font size, bullet and numbered lists.
Send to Tab/Send to Panel: You can toggle between a panel interface (to use when referencing notes while working in another page) or expand your scratchpad to a tab.
Here are some ways you can bring Scratchpad to use:
(1) Use it to write notes on your web research.
(2) A To Do List. (The “star” feature can be useful here. That list wil be accessible easily if you use the Android Google Docs widget.)
(3) Use the panel feature to keep an outline open to reference as you are writing the actual document.
I can see Scratchpad replacing an application like Simplenote in many instances, especially for people who use Google Docs regularly.
Just a couple of days after the company released its first iPad app, Skype announced it is embracing the Open VP8 standard. This is the same codec Google developed and is using for Google Talk and Google+ Hangouts.
The latest Windows Skype client uses VP8 for one-on-one video calls as long as the other user has the same version of Skype. This is a big victory for VP8, comparable to Netflix going HTML5. The fact that the VP8 codec is being adopted by such a huge service as Skype despite MPEG LA threatening to form a patent pool, is a good sign for the open web and the future of VP8.
Now you may ask, what does this have to do with Chrome? Well, with Skype moving to an open VP8 standard, greatly increases the likelihood that Skype’s services will be available for Chrome OS users. What is good for the open web is good for Chrome OS. After all, Chrome OS is an operating system that depends on the web for its functionality.
While you can’t say that Skype had Chrome OS in mind when it announced its change in codec, it does show that Skype is getting behind the vision of an open web. The recent development brings to mind an important aspect of Chrome OS as well. The more Chrome OS is adopted, the greater demand there will be for the web service providers to adopt open web standards to great consumer benefit.
Of course, it is unclear what will happen if Microsoft’s purchase of Skype does get approved. It is worth mentioning that Internet Explorer currently only plays VP8 “if a compatible codec was installed.”
What do you think? Do you see a Skype for Chrome OS in the future?