I've read with interest the storm that's brewing regarding Google Chrome. Does Chrome signify the death of the client? Can you really "live in a fancy browser" and be totally agnostic of the underlying operating system? At what point does the operating system become a commodity? These are all interesting questions.
It's a common trick of car manufacturers to use Chrome to make a vehicle look more valuable than it really is. Clearly there are many people who like the "bling" look. Given the choice I prefer elegant innovative design over "fluff and sparkle" - that's not to say that Google's Chrome appears to be without promise for those who seek an alternative to Microsoft - rather that it's early days and I think it's way too early to consider the underlying operating system to be obsolete.
We are approaching a point of inflection whereby it will become the norm for transactional computing to take place in "the cloud" as mobile internet connectivity becomes ever more pervasive in exactly the same way as the mass population adopted the web (in affluent areas of the World) for browsingg when they gained inexpensive access to wired Internet. It's going to take time for high speed low cost mobile internet reach to be sufficient for everyday people to consider doing away with offline access. As we transition between the Worlds of offline/online access to "always on" there will absolutely be a need for platforms like Windows Vista, OSX 10 and modern Linux alternatives.
Technologies like Microsoft Silverlight, Adobe Air and Google's offerings are transforming the presentation of online content to become close to that which until recently has only been possible via "thick" client software. Microsoft have some very exciting announcements coming up at this year's Professional Developers Conference (PDC) which will underline that we really do get the online play.
Even if we had mobile "always on" access to the Internet there are critical aspects of computing that are very difficult to handly purely online - information security and privacy technologies comprisings both hardware and software innovations are not trivial to implement in isolation.
What happens if the cloud based computing resource you rely upon has a major outage? What happens if said resource suffers data corruption or loss?
What happens if you travel to somewhere where you don't have the same level of access or where such access is significantly more expensive?
The one constant in the field of technology is of course that change is rapid. We'll see some interesting solutions AND some new problems as the computing platform evolves.