What Does Google Chrome OS Look and Feel Like?

Chrome OS looks sleek and feels fast, according to screenshots from Engadget, but what do we really know about the Chrome OS experience? Not much, though a source familiar with Google's application development says Chrome Web browser will essentially leverage Chrome OS to run Web apps really fast. That sounds all well and good, but what will this ultimately mean for Linux distributions?

Google engineers were quite vague in their description about what its new Google Chrome OS would look and feel like, telling the high-tech world that the user interface is "minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the Web."

Chrome OS, which has all the reporting world hailing it as the Microsoft Windows killer or as a non-player, is also supposed to be "fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the Web in a few seconds." A Google spokesperson declined to comment about the look and feel of Chrome beyond the blog post from Tuesday night.

However, a source with knowledge of Google's plans regarding the OS told eWEEK that Google has not finalized many of the design decisions and that Google is still baking the back-end code for the product. Just as Windows sits quietly in the background while Microsoft Office and other applications run on top of it, Chrome will be fairly invisible. The user experience will take place in the browser, where everything will run as a Web app.

Saul Hansell of The New York Times echoed this notion in a blog post July 9: "It will be built on a simple version of Linux that is meant to run only one application: the Chrome browser. Google's idea is that anything for which you may have wanted a separate software program can be done within the browser instead. Never mind all the other functions and add-on programs you find in Windows."

UPDATE: Screenshots of the forthcoming Linux-based OS for netbooks leaked to Endgadget proved to be fake, whipped up by a graphic designer using CSS and HTML.

Google claimed July 8 that it is currently working with Acer, Adobe, Asus, Freescale, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Toshiba to get Chrome OS into the market.

Google could easily change the user interface several times, and the product may even be faster once it reaches netbooks in 2010 to 2011, if it even sees the light of day that soon. Why doubt Google's bid to get Chrome OS to market in 2010?