Thoughts on Google's Chrome OS

Google Chrome OSYesterday, Google held an event to demo it’s newest product, Chrome OS.  This operating system designed for (at first) netbooks (like Asus Eee PC) runs a modified Linux kernel to interact with the hardware and then runs a heavily modified Chrome browser as it’s user interface.

While people will argue the merits of this OS up and down over the next year, and when it’s finally released (by the 2010 holiday season), I wanted to point out a few things I found both good and bad about the ideas presented at the announcement.

Some things to like about it are:

  1. Very fast boot up
  2. Cloud based storage (your data can’t be “lost” because its not on the machine)
  3. Secure, the OS (since it’s a browser) doesn’t trust anything. And it does a check on boot up to ensure that hash keys match against google servers, if they don’t then the machine is basically wiped and reinstalled on the fly.

Some things to NOT like:

  1. No native apps. While not a big deal long term this might affect people’s initial opinion/adoption at first
  2. Will require new hardware designed with this OS in mind. You can’t download and install it to a current machine. (You can apparently can currently install to a Asus Eee PC, but it requires some hacking).
  3. Requires an internet connection. They didn’t go over the “offline mode” in great detail at the event, but the release is 1 year off and google has offline tools (Google Gears), which will probably come in to play here.

Overall, I think that this will be pretty nifty if still very niche.  I think that there’s a good chance that this won’t succeed like Google would like.  But I think that the fact that they are making efforts in moving the web forward (something very important to them) is a good thing.  Chrome OS is innovative even if it might not be overly functional.  But what we saw yesterday was an early preview and they did say many things will change between now and the official release.  I for one am interested in at least giving it a go to see what it’s going to be like.

If you want to get an idea of what this OS will be like, download Google Chrome and run it full screen on your computer and don’t run ANY desktop applications.  Or you can pick up a VMWare or VirtualBox image at Gdgt.

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