Now that Google has released the initial developers build of Chrome OS, we have a basic idea of what Google is doing with its concept of an operating system built around a Web browser and Web-based content. And if you want to know what I think about that developers release you can read my review of Google Chrome OS.
But in that review I'm pretty much focused on just where Chrome OS is right now, in this very early, essentially pre-alpha version. And with Google not being expected to release Chrome OS until the end of 2010, a lot of things could change.
So here are a couple of things I'd like to see in that final version of Chrome OS, some features and capabilities that in my opinion would move it closer to being a valuable addition to the modern computing arena.
Google has said it plans for the initial OEM devices that Chrome OS ships on to use only flash-based memory and not have local disk storage as most people know it. But Google has also said it will do some amount of local caching.
Caching is good but I'd really like to see it go beyond simple offline support for Gmail and Google Apps. What I'd really like to see is some form of local caching server, so that Chrome OS is always saving some amount of your browsing experience. It could also be doing some amount of pre-caching, sort of like what Opera does with its Turbo feature.
It's pretty much a given that the initial Chrome OS devices will often be used on some kind of 3G Internet connection. These (and other) connections can often be flaky. If Chrome OS can do caching right, it could make the inevitable hiccups and short delays of bad Internet connections nearly invisible to its users.
Another thing I'd like to see is some form of file and document management within the operating system itself. Sure, the whole idea of Chrome OS is that all of your content lives on the Web. But I'd still like to be able to centrally manage it somehow.
Just as the current Applications menu in Chrome OS centralizes the applications I am most likely to use, it would be good if there were a similar menu or interface where I could centralize all of the documents and files I want to keep track of through the various services I use.
This last idea probably won't come from Google, as it has said it will only deliver the OS to OEM device manufacturers. But maybe someone can build a version of Chrome OS that can be installed on existing laptops and netbooks as a boot option.
Already there are lightweight Linux desktops such as Splashtop and Xandros Presto that give users the option to quickly boot into a limited desktop for when they just need to use the Web and simple applications and then boot into a classic OS when they need to do localized application work.
I could see Google Chrome OS becoming a popular option for systems if offered in this way.
We'll see how Google Chrome OS shapes up in the next year. And let me know what features and capabilities you'd like to see added to Chrome OS.