Google Chrome OS got so much coverage this past week that I almost didn’t write about it. Most of your standard tech blogs wrote multiple posts covering it and it doesn’t even come out for another year or so. With all of the buzz and hype surrounding it, I figured it was important that we understand what Google Chrome OS is and what it actually means (or doesn’t mean) for our future.
What is Google Chrome OS?
I find it hard to think about Google Chrome OS as an actual Operating System. Because Google Chrome OS is actually based on Linux, I see it as just that: another flavor of Linux. Google Chrome OS is not something that you will be able to download and install on your computer. It’s being built specifically for a special class of supported netbook computers (tiny, underpowered laptops made mostly for web browsing).
At the core of Google’s new “Operating System” is the Chrome web browser. Even though it’s still young and coming into it’s own, Google Chrome has been my default web browser for a while now. The primary reason for this is that it’s fast and efficient. It gets the job done. Chrome also makes it simple to turn your favorite web applications into shortcuts on your desktop. While the application shortcut feature is really just a conceptual thing on your average desktop, it takes on new meaning in the Chrome OS world where you don’t actually have anything but web applications.
When you boot into Chrome OS, all you get is a Chrome web browser. There is no desktop. There are no real applications. There is no filesystem to speak of. It’s all web, all the time. Even when you connect a USB drive or other device, the media still opens up in the browser.
What Will It Change?
Google Chrome OS is not going to enter the OS market and challenge Apple and Microsoft. Anyone that says this needs to leave that stuff alone. GCOS is something different from your standard OS and could never completely replace the desktop as we know it. This is especially true given the fact that it only runs on customized netbooks created for that specific purpose.
One thing that Google Chrome OS could do is expand Internet access to the masses. Netbooks are cheap and Google Chrome OS is free. The combination could lower the bar for Internet access to millions of people worldwide. Google Chrome OS won’t be officially released for another year or so, but you can already run it in a virtual machine.
If you really want to see what Google Chrome OS will be like, just install the Chrome web browser. Create some application shortcuts. Instead of using all those desktop applications, do more things in the browser. Store some data in the cloud. You never know, you might discover a whole knew way to get things done.Category: News | Tags: chrome, google, os