There has been some recent discussion about Chrome as the Browser Operating System. This prompted a friend to ask a question - why would Google want to compete in the O/S world?
This might actually be a necessity.
As the I.T. industry shifts towards a service world, the "traditional" O/S will remain a vital but potentially less visible component (normal effect of componentisation) as a higher level layer of the computing stack (such as the browser on the client side and the platform on the server) becomes increasingly dominant. You can see this effect occurring today with many people simply living their working lives through the browser with applications being built in online platforms and mashup environments.
This, in itself, shouldn't impact Google as its search business depends upon the neutrality of the browser and access to data. What might impact Google is the rise to dominance of an alternative to the browser. For Google, there exists a dangerous scenario in which a proprietary environment such as Azure and Silverlight becomes dominant and the open protocols of the "free web" are slowly extended.
As with all scenario planning, this is simply conjecture and it depends upon the intentions of different players, economic factors, technology and attitudes. Nevertheless, if you're planning for the future, it's a scenario which can't be ignored.
The potential threat was first highlighted during the ODF / OOXML debacle and as Mr Edwards states, this could prompt a "wholesale, across the boards replacement of W3C technologies".
At the very least, he's right to highlight the possibility.
When Chrome first launched, it appeared as through Google was trying to influence other browsers to follow a route of becoming the future "cloud O/S". It's debatable now whether Google has changed track and decided it has to make this happen itself.