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Chrome OS is Google's latest attempt to further its concept of "browser-based" computing, in which the traditional PC desktop is removed in favour of a completely web-based experience. So essentially it's not aiming for the traditional market of desktop PC's, it's aiming for small mobile devices and netbooks and you will have to go and buy a Chrome OS device.
When the first Chrome OS devices appear next year, they will be small computers in a familiar netbook form factor with a screen, a touchpad, and a full-size keyboard. They won't be phones or tablets and will support only solid-state drives.
At the heart of the Chrome OS is the Chrome browser, which Google has been developing as an alternative to competitors such as Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Opera.
Chrome OS applications will be Web-based and launch via the browser (see image below)
Users will not need to install or maintain any software. Microsoft proprietary software MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc. will open easily.
Sundar Pichai, Vice President of Product Management at Google explained that Google aims to deliver small, portable Internet devices that power on quickly and deliver users directly into the browser. "It takes about seven seconds for a Chrome OS machine to boot," Pichai said, "and we're working really, really hard to make this shorter."
Chrome OS Director of Engineering Matt Papakipos emphasised that the most important goal of Chrome OS is to create devices that are fast, easy, and enjoyable for the average person to use. "We want to make it a very fast, delightful system to use. We want you to be able to push the on button, it immediately comes on, and you're on the Web as quickly as possible".
The user interface of the operating system is effectively the Chrome browser. Applications are each given their own tab, and users can shift between different windows each with their own group of tabs. So, for example, you could have a "productivity apps" window with tabs for Gmail, Google Docs and Spreadsheet, and another window devoted to web browsing.
All user data will be stored in "the cloud" - that is stored online (possibly with the option of using Google Gears to store data locally should you wish to), with Chrome OS only using local memory for caching data such as your settings. So If you lose your Chrome OS machine, you should be able to buy a new one, log in, and within a few seconds get all your applications back.
Initial opinion here in the office is somewhat divided - for some it's it's simple, quick and easy to use but for others the idea of "cloud computing", no local drive to store informatiation to and inevitably your information held in Google's vast datacentres is off putting.
Either way most believe that it will be a success - Chrome OS is open source and can be "tweaked" to suit the user - so expect lots of new "flavours" to appear (maybe even an SEO version!) and is a free OS for hardware manufacturers - allowing the introduction of cheaper netbooks - maybe even sub-£100 netbooks.
If you can't wait and want to try out Chrome OS before it's official release there's a workaround to allow you to use Chromium (the linux Beta version) on your Windows PC