Questions Google Will Have to Address

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2009-11-23 Print this article Print

5. Offline efficiency

Since Chrome OS is an online operating system, users can't simply close the window and use offline applications as they would with Windows. That could be a real problem for users who are accustomed to being able to use Web applications and desktop software simultaneously. Google will need to address that before the OS is released.

6. User comprehension

There's little debating that what Google is trying to accomplish with Chrome OS is groundbreaking. But that doesn't necessarily mean that users will get it. Since cloud computing began in earnest, users have been handling desktop software that gives them access to the Internet. They have not necessarily used Web software that provides all their computing needs online. Granted, any new technology has a "breaking in" period, but given the success Microsoft and Windows 7 continue to enjoy, it could be a hard sell.

7. Downloading? No.

Unfortunately, Chrome OS can't be added to just any computer. Instead, Google has signed partnerships with several companies that will sell Chrome OS-based computers. For now, that is the only way users will be able to use the new operating system. That could spell trouble for Google. Users may not want to invest in a new computer just to run the OS. But if they could download it onto their existing machines to give it a spin, they just might use the software.

8. A clear-cut security policy

Google said in its press conference last week that it has built Chrome OS from the ground up to safeguard users and, reduce, if not eradicate, malware. OK, great. But how, exactly, will Google achieve that? And if and when security issues do arise, how does Google plan to work with the security community to address it? Open source and sandboxing are good starting points, but a clearly outlined security policy that details Google's response to eventual security problems is a must.

9. No other browsers

Anyone hoping to use Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera or Firefox on Chrome OS might as well forget about it. According to Google, Chrome OS won't support any outside browsers. It's sad, considering that every other operating system on the market allows users to pick a browser, but for now, Chrome OS won't.

10. Offline access

During a question and answer session at the preview, Google was asked how Chrome OS would work when users aren't in Wi-Fi range. The company's representatives were relatively tight-lipped. They made it clear that Chrome OS is designed with Web users in mind. But when users can't access an Internet connection, it seems likely that a Chrome OS-based netbook will be relatively useless. It's an issue that Google will have to address if the operating system stands any chance of gaining wide acceptance.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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