Five years ago Google released Gmail to the world. It was on April 1, and most people thought it was a hoax, 1GB of storage space, that’s crazy, who needs all that space? Well it was quickly the must have thing of the year, and you can even credit Gmail for starting the Beta craze, since it had the Beta definition up yesterday. In those 5 years, Gmail has become the de facto standard for web-based email, and with the Gmail Labs feature, it will continue to innovate the field for years to come.
Way back in the day, when you needed to get invited to Gmail, and users only had one or two invites to give out, there was a place called Gmailforums.com. You may have heard of it, it’s where I got my invite back in the summer of 2004, (maybe you saw me there under the name “myotismon”), and it was a ripe place for Google information, and Gmail help, back before Google started their much improved support section. Way back then we lived on refreshing the Google Labs homepage for new stuff. When Google X was released, and quickly taken down, we had a field day speculating about it.
But that wasn’t the only thing, we were ripe with rumors. The two biggest were that Google would release a browser of their own, and that Google would release an operating system of their own. As of today, those two rumors have been proven true. Ok, Google Chrome was released last September, but whatever. Today Google announced Google Chrome OS, and if Gmailforums still existed, I can guarantee that there would be a flurry of activity on it all day, and into the weekend.
I always was one of the supporters of a Google based operating system, saying that there was no need for another browser on the market (granted, a standards complaint browser is nice, but just another one I have to make sure my code works in). However, Chrome has proven itself a worthy application.
Back in 2004 there was no such thing as a netbook, or a lightweight OS, so things have changed in the years since. It’s probably for the better too because as well as Windows 7, or Windows XP or Mac OSX work on the limited hardware of a netbook, they are still optimized for something much larger and more powerful. By starting from the ground up with the Linux kernel, Google is in position to make a beautifully crafted OS specially tailored to the small form factors of netbooks. I’m talking about the GUI, and the interface, Google has always used keyboard shortcuts, they would be right to integrate simple ones in their OS. Chrome is already very minimal in it’s interface, and if Google takes that design to heart, the OS will be nice and simple too.
There’s tons of time to speculate about it though, because the Code wont be open sourced till later this year, and the first actual hardware we can see won’t be until 2010. Hopefully Google will release the final version as standalone, and let other users install it on their own non-netbook computers. All of that will be known in good time, but now it’s time for speculation.
Google now has your emails, term papers, photos, address, calendar, finances, reading list, and browsing history. What could they be doing with all that information? Plotting world domination I say. They have everything necessary to blackmail 90% of the world, or, scarier yet, confuse the world. How much more information do computers need to gather about us before they are able to make virtual worlds for us to inhabit kinda like The Matrix? Probably a while still, but it’s on track. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use Google, if there’s one company that I trust my information to, it is Google, and besides, all my most important things are written down in multiple Book Ciphers and in a hardened bunker. Good luck figuring out that robot overlords!!!
For along time now users have trusted Google with many things from their email, to their photos, to their term papers, to their lives.