- Apple made MacOS X a closed operating system without licensing it to anyone which means that it is tied to computers made by apple, which are pricey (and beautiful). The barriers for entry for anyone who want to switch are high. Apple refuses to acknowledge that most people grew up and own Windows PCs and does not accommodate them by making it easy. While BootCamp made it easier but still they weren't addressing their core concern: what can I do with my existing windows computers. With the iPhone, Apple has diverted its engineering resources on to that. Instead of addressing the core OS concerns, Apple is spending its time and resources trying to mimick Vista & Windows 7.
- Linux & various other linux-like variants. There have been several notable efforts in the Linux front. Most notable being Ubuntu and the most recent effort from Intel, Moblin. I've gotta say Ubuntu is years behind from becoming an usable, mainstream, home operating system. There are so many issues with keeping it open-source and not being able to provide "proprietary" device drivers. There are just too many variants and ways to do the same thing and none being easy.
I think Google is spot-on in its post about the needs of a computer user:
We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear — computers need to get better. People want to get to their email instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up. They want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them. They want their data to be accessible to them wherever they are and not have to worry about losing their computer or forgetting to back up files. Even more importantly, they don't want to spend hours configuring their computers to work with every new piece of hardware, or have to worry about constant software updates.Everyday, I wait for about 5 minutes for my PC to become usable. Every year or so, I have to re-install Windows on my computers as it has slowed down considerably from when it was a fresh install. I have to use a myriad of programs to backup my computer. And have a myriad of hard drives and storage to move around my media over and over.
If (and that's a big if) Google is able to address all these concerns and make an Operating System that's secure, simple & fast, then they would own the home market in a few years. Cracking the enterprise market is much harder as it requires change of thinking & operating model for a lot of enterprise IT departments (which means re-training or even hiring new people) and that aint gonna happen in years - maybe in a decade or so.
But sure enough, Google has both the money and the engineering prowess to pull this off. Go Google ChromeOS!