The Google Chrome Key

Back in 1995 something very odd happened. Microsoft released a new version of their operating system, jumping from version 3.x to version 95 which, as well as being a pretty innovative bit of version numbering, brought in a few other new things including the start menu. Now to get the start menu to work they pulled off an astonishing move and added a new key to computer keyboards, not just keyboards made by Microsoft (I am not even sure they did make them at the time) but keyboards made by all manufacturers. This key had a little windows advert on it and was called the Windows key. Quite how the competition regulators let this pass at the time and ever since is a mystery to me, but to this day if you go and buy a Logitech keyboard for your Ubuntu Linux desktop you will have a windows logo staring at you as you type like the eye of Sauron.

Chrome Key

Keyboards without a windows key are few and far between. Here is a picture of one from ZaReason.

Todays announcement from Google that they are going to release an operating system may cause keyboard manufacturers to think about their little windows adverts a bit more carefully. Initially Google is targeting netbooks with integrated keyboards, presumably they won’t tolerate a windows logo on the keyboard. If and when the Chrome OS moves to a more desktop like platform will Google start pressing OEMs to add a Chrome key? Or will the key be neutralised to a more generic symbol that doesn’t advertise an operating system at all?
Chrome Key

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6 Comments

  • [...] The Google Chrome Key Back in 1995 something very odd happened. Microsoft released a new version of their operating system, jumping from version 3.x to version 95 which, as well as being a pretty innovative bit of version numbering, brought in a few other new things including the start menu. Now to get the start menu to work they pulled off an astonishing move and added a new key to computer keyboards, not just keyboards made by Microsoft (I am not even sure they did make them at the time) but keyboards made by all manufacturers. This key had a little windows advert on it and was called the Windows key. Quite how the competition regulators let this pass at the time and ever since is a mystery to me, but to this day if you go and buy a Logitech keyboard for your Ubuntu Linux desktop you will have a windows logo staring at you as you type like the eye of Sauron. [...]

  • theist says:

    There was a keyboard for the Sega DreamCast console which had these keys marked as “S1″. This is quite strange, a peripheric for a Game console didn’t get its keys branded with a blue hedgehog or something like that.

  • Michael Hampson says:

    My Asus Aspire One netbook was fifty pounds cheaper without XP – GBP180 instead of GBP230. Let the truth be told! That’s the closest I’ve ever come to seeing a real-world price for a M$ licence. It came with some dodgy Linux but I’ve given it Ubuntu 9.04 plus Maximus and Window Picker (the only bits of Netbook Remix that you actually want) and I adore it. It’s running Open Office, GoogleEarth, Firefox, Flash, Java, Flashblock, Adblock … oh, and the point of this post, it has a HOME key, with a little house on it, which I have set up to open the Ubuntu menu :) … and of course I save GBP60 on Office, and GBP30pa on virus protection, and half its processor power by not needing antivirus or the world’s worst OS … etc etc etc … been using it for six months now (on an earlier Ubuntu) … adore it.

  • [...] host two little adverts for a legacy operating system – they are gone! The little flags (previously discussed in the context of Google ChromeOS) are replaced with the Circle of Friends, the Ubuntu Logo that [...]

  • Personally, I think they should all switch to the command, or ⌘ symbol. While this is the case with Apple, it really is a more appropriate symbol, and one which they didn’t invent. It’s generic enough that I’d feel comfortable having it on a computer, no matter the OS.

  • Also, Google got rid of the Caps Lock key, put the “super” key in its place, and mapped it to open a new tab. They put a search logo on it since opening a new tab focuses the search/address box.

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