Yesterday Google officially demoed Chrome OS at their special event in Mountain View, CA. The operating system is exactly what we all expected it to be, the browser is the OS.
All of the applications are in the cloud, you can’t install (what we would consider to be) traditional applications, just web apps. Chrome OS will not support hard disk drives in favor of solid state drives. This allows them to make all sorts of performance optimizations which is how they’ve been able to keep boot time under 10 seconds.
Although Chrome OS can’t boot from hard disk drives, it will support mass storage devices. When you plug in a digital camera or a cell phone the contents will show up in a separate browser tab. Clicking on files, such as Excel files or PDF files, will open up a web app that can handle that file type, such as Microsoft Office web apps or Google Docs. Chrome OS even has a built in media player to view videos and images.
The whole concept is very interesting and I’m mostly interested in how this announcement will affect other software companies. But, the focus on low cost and low powered computers (netbooks) worries me. I happen to agree with Alex Payne on this:
I have no opinion about Chrome OS. All I know is that cheap hardware feels cheap. It’s less “cloud computing” than “disposable computing”.
And, it’s not as if you’ll be able to just install this on any computer out there. There will likely be numerous hacks to do so but, Google is working on reference designs and the OS will only officially work on approved hardware.
The operating system will launch in the second half of 2010. But, if you want to see more of the user interface there are a few videos introducing and demoing Chrome OS on the Google Chrome YouTube account, I really enjoyed the “What is Google Chrome OS?” video.
11/18/09: Google Holding Chrome OS Event Thursday
7/8/09: Google Announces a Linux Distro and the World Goes Mad
Update 11/21/09: Gdgt is hosting a VMware image of Chrome OS. If you’re unsure how to use it, Engadget has published a video with the instructions.
Update 11/24/09: Chrome OS Should Be Built on Anroid