Chrome OS: Web Apps Need Only Apply

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-11-20 Print this article Print

Papakipos also said all hardware devices running Chrome OS will be based on solid state storage. So, for now, netbooks only please.

"No hard disks. No disks with moving parts with iron particles on them," Papakipos said. "It's all entirely Flash memory-based storage solution. And that's part of the reason we can load so quickly because we're actually just reading out of RAM rather than out of a spinning magnetic drive. That makes a huge difference."

Moreover, Google said it wants full-size keyboards on clamshell devices, 802.11n support, and left the door open to work with wireless carriers.  

What do these cloud operating system characteristics translate to? Speed and simplicity.

During a demo, Pichai showed Chrome OS loading on an Asus Eee PC in seven seconds, with an application loading in just a few more. Chrome OS is geared to run only Web applications. That's right -- no local applications.

For some people, this will seem like a rebirth; it will be like starting their first computing experience all over again. For those whose first computing experience is on a Chrome OS netbook, which won't arrive until at least November or December 2010, they may never know the woes associated with downloading software.

Web apps, such as Google Talk, Twitter and Facebook, will run on Google's Chrome Web browser. Think of Chrome OS as the foundation for the Chrome browser, which is the window through which users will all access the Web apps. The Chrome browser is really the extension of Chrome OS.  

Chrome OS provides a Tabs feature that organizes Web apps on one palette, not unlike what users are accustomed to seeing on smartphones such as the Apple iPhone or Android-based phones such as the Motorola Droid or HTC Eris.

Apps open into persistent panels with one click. Users can chat via Google Talk, watch videos from YouTube, update their Facebook status and tweet on Twitter, or access USB drives all on the fly from the app tabs.

Welcome to Google's vision of computing. Though the reality, if it comes to fruition is still at least a year away. We don't even know who Google's hardware partners will be for Chrome OS (though we can guess Asus and other netbook makers will be among the chosen). What the event did was prepare us all.

Next year should be very exciting as Chrome OS goes head to head with Windows Azure, Microsoft's own vision of the future of cloud computing.     

In the meantime, read the coverage on TechMeme here, though these pieces from PC Magazine and Mashable hit the high points well. Moreover, TechCrunch explains how to begin using Chrome OS on a virtual machine here, why PC World explains why the OS will fail.


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