What’s Google up to?

DesktopLinux (via Slashdot):

Google and CodeWeavers Inc. are working together to bring Google’s popular Windows Picasa photo editing and sharing program to Linux. The program is now in a limited beta test. If this program is successful, other Google applications will be following it to the Linux desktop, sources say.

The Linux Picasa implementation includes the full feature set of the Windows Picasa 2.x software. It is not, strictly speaking, a port of Picasa to Linux. Instead, Linux Picasa combines Windows Picasa code and Wine technology to run Windows Picasa on Linux. This, however, will be transparent to Linux users, when they download, install, and run the free program on their systems.

Long story short for my friends who may not know jack about Linux – Wine is a Windows API emulator that lets you run native Windows apps in Linux. It’s far from perfect and can be a bitch to get working right.

Why is that significant? For any alternative operating system to really take off, it needs 100% Windows compatibility. I think the story here isn’t that Google is porting Picasa – rather, its that they’re working on Wine.

Divining from the tea leaves of Google is a mostly futile effort – but all these recent rumors do seem to be pointing in the same direction: A “Google Wal-Mart PC”, Google/Ubuntu, Google playing with Wine. The co-founders in a Time magazine interview last week also said (paraphrasing) that obfuscation was part of their overall strategy. Makes you go hmmm….

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