Every few months, Google's Project Fuchsia makes the rounds at the technology press. And for good reason, provided this is Google's first attempt at developing a brand new open kernel and operating system. Of course, there are not many secrets about it, given that it's really much being developed in the open and that, with the ideal know-how, you can run it on a Pixelbook today. There is also lots of documentation about the job.
Based on the latest report by Bloomberg, roughly 100 engineers in Google are working on Fuchsia. Though the project has the blessing of Google CEO Sundar Pichai, it is unclear what Google wants Fuchsia to be. We don't think that it'll replace Android, as many people today seem to believe. We don't think it's the mythical Chrome OS/Android mashup that'll bring Google's two operating systems together.
Our guess is that here we are talking about an experimental system which is mostly supposed to play with some ideas for the time being. In the future, it might turn into a real product, but to accomplish this, Google will nevertheless need to deliver a much bigger team to bear on the project and invest substantial resources into it. It might, however, end up in some of Google's own hardware -- maybe a Google Home version -- at some point, as that is technology that's 100 percent in the firm's control.
It is not unusual for companies such as Google to operate on next-generation operating systems, and also what is possibly most important here is that Fuchsia is not built on the Linux kernel which sits at the center of Android along with ChromeOS. Fuchsia's kernel, dubbed Zircon, takes a microkernel method that's very different compared to bigger monolithic Linux kernels that power Google's other running systems. Along with building a new kernel is a huge deal (even though Google's efforts appear to be based upon the job of this"little kernel" job ).
For many years, Microsoft worked on a project named Singularity, yet another experimental microkernel-based operating platform that eventually went nowhere.
The purpose of these jobs, though, isn't always about creating a product that goes to market. It is often just about seeing how far it is possible to push a given technology. That work could pay off in other places or make it into existing projects. You also may find a couple of patents from it. It is something older engineers love to work on. One unnamed person Bloomberg said that this is a "senior-engineer retention undertaking". Chances are, there is a significant bit of truth to this. It might take more than a hundred engineers to construct a brand new operating platform, after all. But those engineers are at Google and not focusing on Apple's and Microsoft's operating systems. And that's a win for Google.