Chrome OS preview

So what is Chrome OS? Not to be confused with Google’s browser of the same name, it’s a Linux-based operating system, which has been designed to work with web applications. It won’t be available to download, but will only be shipped on certain hardware from Google’s manufacturer partners.


Since it was announced last year, the techie world has been anticipating the launch of the first laptop – but we won’t be seeing that until next year now. Instead a lucky few (developers, early adopters and users who are used to using beta software) will be trying the OS out in a pilot programme that Google says was aimed at people who “live on the web”.

What makes Chrome different to the likes of Apple’s OS and Windows is that it is aimed at those who spend most of their time on the web. “We think cloud computing will define computing as we know it,” said Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive officer. “Finally there is a viable third choice for an operating system.”
Google’s Sundar Pichai said the software is not yet ready because there are unfinished features (Google Cloud Print, for instance, is not stable enough yet) and bugs that have to be ironed out.

Consumer devices are due from Samsung and Acer in 2011. They will be powered by Intel chips but no prices have been announced as yet.
Here’s a list of some of the browser-based operating system’s unique features:

* Cloud-based printing using Google Cloud Print
* Fast startup/boot time (less than 60 second the first time you fire it up)
* Profile sharing: A Chrome OS computer can be shared with others and accessed on other Chrome OS devices via guest profiles.
* 3G access: All Chrome devices will ship with 3G. The 3G is powered by Verizon and there will be no fees
* More security: Chrome OS will use OS-level sandboxing and data encryption. It can also detect malicious code and get rid of the bad code.

All very exciting stuff, however, Paul Buchheit, who developed Gmail and sold his own FriendFeed to Facebook, reckons that Chrome OS will die, or be gobbled up by Android. In a tweet he said: ‘Prediction: ChromeOS will be killed next year (or “merged” with Android)’.