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I'm fascinated by the reactions to Google's Chromebooks: lots of people who would scream blue murder if you put a thin client on their desk are delighted at the idea of an even thinner client as long as it looks like a laptop and lets them browse the Web (wait till their IT team locks down the sites they can browse with the usual firewall controls to see if they're still keen). I've already said that Chromebooks are a wakeup call to the Windows team to remove complexity, and my interview with Google's Rajen Sheth is up on ZDNet now and getting lots of comments. I've blogged some extra details on Chromebooks for business there too (like - can I cancel after six months?).

I'm not going to reprise my thoughts that the cheaper TCO Google claims also applies to Windows when you do the same desktop management or that adding another platform with no third-party integrated management tools doesn't necessarily reduce management costs overall (now you have users in both Chrome config and Active Directory to deal with separately). Instead I'll speculate wildly about why the Chromebooks are Atom and not ARM processors. Obviously Intel loves it - it emboldened Renee James to make some wildly inaccurate attacks on Windows 8 on ARM that Microsoft shot out of the sky - and I suspect you need the Intel processors to get Flash running at a decent speed along with the rest of Chrome. But mainly it means Samsung and Acer don't have to eat the cost of tooling to set up a new line to make boxes that may or not sell; they can just bang out a standard PC motherboard and laptop chassis and let Google worry about drivers and making a true netbook not look like a chocolate teapot when you don't have the bandwidth or battery to be online (on ARM tablets it's the screen that uses the majority of power, on a PC the Wi-Fi is a bigger consumer - I've yet to discover what uses most power on a Chromebook). Until every Web app I want to use works offline, Chromebooks won't be useful disconnected, so everyone should finally get offline Gmail.

What's MeeGo for?

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I've always said that the main reason Intel develops Moblin is to scare Microsoft; any time Redmond isn't playing ball, Intel holds up Moblin (I can't bring myself to call it MeeGo every time) like a scary hand puppet and waves it around until the 'softies cave in. Perhaps they haven't caved recently (or perhaps my utter speculation about Windows 8 on ARM is near to the bone), but Intel spokesperson James Reinders made some remarkably candid comments about Microsoft and Windows performance on Atom (twice, so it wasn't mis-speaking).

Personally I'm very happy with Windows 7 on Atom (in as much as I'm happy about Atom at all - I like the battery life but tend to hate the tiny keyboards), and I'm grateful that Windows VP Steven Sinosfky went through what must have been the pain of using a netbook as his main PC for months to make sure Windows 7 would make me happy (oh, and all you other Atom users too), but it did remind me that Origami died a death. Of course now that I know that Microsoft worked with Toshiba to create the nice, simple Media Controller interface on the JOURN.E Touch and that they brainstormed the 'three screens plus cloud' mantra together I'm wondering what we might see on the Windows 7 tablets that HP and, I think I can say, Toshiba will bring out this summer. 

Reinders also talked about Atom and embedded Atom in a way that made me think that Intel is trying to use Moblin/MeeGo as a scary puppet to wave at Google as well; Intel thinks embedded devices - smartphones, MIDs, what Qualcomm calls SmartBooks even though that's a trademark in Europe,in-car systems and all the other devices that are going Android and Chrome (or maybe RIM or - very successfully for Ford - Windows CE or, of course, iPhone and iPad) - need a better operating system. I'm inclined to agree - though of course I personally think it should be some variation of Windows 8 (I do seem to have a theme this week) rather than Moblin/MeeGo. But what I mostly think is that if Intel is using the same puppet to wave at both Google and Microsoft, then they are certainly wearing what an old friend of ours calls the Brave Trousers.

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