For those not in the know Google has announced an operating system developed in house called Chrome OS. I watched the hour long live launch over the web with interest because Google has its hands all over the web. You can see for yourself by signing into Google Dashboard and perusing all the minutiae of information that you may or may not know you share with them. You can even peruse your old Google queries if you drink the kool aid sign up for it.
So what is Chrome OS and why do you care? To start, Chrome OS is not Chrome. Chrome is a web browser developed by Google which is fast. Really fast. It is my browser of choice despite the fact that it had flaky mainstream support for awhile. You should try it. Chrome OS is an operating system like Windows 7 or Apple OS X. Except that it is so much more (or less?) than those things. You can think of Chrome OS like a browser on steroids. The idea is that we all spend most of our time on the web anyways – so what’s the point of having to manage a computer, install virus software, make backups (you do do that right?) , install updates, or crying when you spill juice on your laptop and wonder if you just washed away three years of memories.
Chrome OS introduces a “stateless” system. Everything you do is on the internet. There is no more local computer. All your information is stored in the cloud and somebody else’s problem for managing. Say you go to Aunt Sally’s but you left your computer at home. No problem. Log into Chrome OS and the computer looks exactly like your computer at home with everything just the way you like it. Do some work, leave and go home and everything is waiting for you there. Great concept, but are the masses ready for this? Are you ready to give up all your desktop games, Outlook, Paint and migrate to web only applications?
I guess that depends on how frustrated the masses currently are with maintaining a full featured OS at home. My personal feeling is – very unsatisfied. Even I, computer geek extraordinaire is frustrated by the number of trivial and annoying things I must do to maintain a working computer. Chrome OS solves lots of these problems. No more having to worry about antivirus software because the core of the OS is locked down. Just yesterday I spent two hours trying to migrate my wife’s Outlook settings after I upgraded her to Windows 7. Goodness, how do regular people put up with this crap?
On top of saving all this time and frustration, what if I told you Chrome OS boots in seven seconds? And I am not talking seven seconds like you are used to. Where you have a desktop and you click and click and nothing happens. You wait two more minutes and then all of a sudden twelve windows open. Gee thanks. I mean seven seconds until you have a fully functional computer with a browser already opened and you are checking your mail. Now we’re cooking with fire!
Google seems to think that the emergence of low cost, low power netbooks and ubiquitous internet will drive sales of this new device, but I am prophesying that this is going to be much bigger than Google or even Microsoft/Apple think it will be. Dual boot systems on small, inexpensive solid state disks (think 16gb) will make this technologically accessible to mainstream users on existing hardware.
For those nerding out there you can download the open source Chrome OS here and start drinking the kool aid.