Google Chrome OS: My Concerns

Google Chrome OS: My Concerns

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Now that the source code of Chrome OS is in the open, the project has entered the second stage of the development phase.

I suggest to visit the Chrome OS announcement that was posted yesterday, and take a look at the video posted if you have not followed the news about Google’s operating system closely.

In short: Chrome OS will be a cloud based operating system. This means that the majority of data — Google even says all data — will be stored in the cloud. The cloud means remote servers on the Internet.

It’s the same thing that many web services like Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Youtube or Flickr already do, but on a larger scale.

Chrome OS will be minimalistic which has the advantages that it will boot fast. Several security concepts like sandboxing processes or verifying core systems during startup make it harder to attack and less likely to spread.

Google Chrome OS: My Concerns

There is one premise though that users have to understand. Chrome OS is not aiming for the same market that Microsoft is targeting with Windows or Apple is targeting with Mac OS. At least not in the years to come. Why? Because it is too limited. Here are a few examples:

  • Cloud based data storage means that an Internet connection is required to access the data. Google probably plans to make it possible to store data on the local computer system (Google Gears?) so that it can be accessed without Internet connection. This does however mean that a fast connection is required to upload, download and sync the data. It could on the other hand be the perfect system for users who want to use it for very specific operations, i.e. banking, chatting or social networking to name a few.
  • Entertainment: If you want to play that 10 Gigabyte ultra-HD video sitting on your desktop you can do so by clicking on it. How will this work if the video is in the cloud? What about an audio collection? This could become really problematic if data cannot be stored offline, especially for users on slow Internet connections. But then again, who says that this is one of the applications of the OS?
  • Games are another area where Chrome OS will not cut it. You can play browser games sure but that’s it for now.

There are however some advantages. This (likely) includes lower hardware requirements to run the operating system (not only cpu or memory but also hard drive space, optical drives), data backups that are taken care of, or a lower battery usage for the system.

Chrome OS will be a very specialized operating system in my opinion, and not the Microsoft Windows killer that many users hope it to become.

Additional information about Chrome OS, including links to source code, information for developers and contributors, and videos that explain what it is and some of its core concepts, are available on the Chromium website. There you also find a list of devices released by companies such as Samsung, Acer, HP or Dell.