It has been around one year since Google launched its Chrome browser. Google now releases the source code of its future operating system on a Linux. Choosing a Web OS 100% reserved for netbooks can stir up many questions.
After several months of waiting, Google has finally lifted the veil on its operating system connected, on Thursday, November 19, in publishing its source code. Very different from OS to which we are accustomed, Chrome OS offers a 100% web approach; in fact an OS browser.
But why to be dependent on any operating systems! Anders Sandholm, project manager of Google Chrome OS, admitted: “With Chrome OS we optimize the user experience when surfing the Web. And the more people spend time on the Web, the more they do research on Google.” The equation is simple.
First netbooks expected late 2010
Beyond these economic considerations, Chrome OS is also a new strategic attack against the Microsoft Empire. And not least, since the Mountain View company here in tackles turf history of Microsoft, which still reigns of a master hand in this market.
Impossible in any case not to see a sign: Chrome OS was announced in full Professional Developers Conference (PDC), a day after the first demos of Internet Explorer 9 and just weeks after the launch of Windows 7.
This first public presentation leaves many questions unanswered. We do not know which particular manufacture PCs equipped with this system or how fast the GUI will be definitive or even if they may be connected all the usual peripherals. For this, we must wait until next year and the launch of the first netbooks running with this system which is planned for late 2010.
In the meantime, here’s a little overview of the main questions raised on Chrome OS.
Chrome OS: a real operating system?
Presented in the summer and released day before yesterday, Chrome OS is an operating system based on Linux. Specifically, this OS looks like the browser to Google, which takes the same name. In fact, Chrome OS is neither more nor less than Chrome “bootable” decorated with some additional features.
It does not install applications such as a word processor or MP3 player. It made the leap to computer “in the cloud” with Chrome OS, your applications, data are not stored on your computer but on the Web. To function properly, Chrome OS therefore requires an Internet connection, although some functions will be available offline.
On which machine will it work?
It is for netbooks at first, but Google does not refrain from opening it to other devices, including Tablet PC format. Note that Chrome OS can work with x86 (Intel) or ARM. Its advantage: it is very light and running in 10 seconds – 7 seconds for starting and 3 seconds for the logon. It is therefore ideally suited to these very powerful machines. To be even faster, Chrome OS will assume that SSD (disks to flash memory) and not hard drives, much slower.
Is there any link between Chrome OS and Android?
No, there is no relationship between Chrome OS and Android, the operating system from Google for smartphones. Although both are OS based on Linux, they are yet fully compatible. You cannot install, for example, Android application on Chrome OS.
Is it possible to use Chrome OS on any PC?
No, it is officially impossible to install Chrome OS on your current netbook. To obtain this will require a dedicated PC, marketed by partners that Google has not yet announced any names. You can still bet that clever hackers will succeed quickly creating versions of Chrome OS usable on any machine, especially since the code is opened in full. Nobody knows if this is a clue, but the netbook used during the first public demo was an Eee PC from Asus.
Is it free?
Yes and no. You can download the source code of Chrome OS, and versions that can be installed through virtualization tools are already available here and there on the Net. It will also be free for Google’s partner manufacturers. However, if you want to get it officially, you need to buy a new machine. As for the price, it will be equivalent to a netbook, according to Google.
Can you install applications in Chrome OS?
No, Chrome OS is a 100% Web based system. It is impossible to install applications, like Windows or Mac OS. To carry out your usual duties, you must go to an online application, such as Google Docs or Zoho suite for the desktop, Google Talk or MSN Web Messenger for chat, etc. And to play, Google does not hesitate to praise the thousands of gaming sites in Flash that abound on the Net.
Does it need to be constantly online
The Chrome OS computers are intended to be used primarily online. “During the presentation, Sundar Pichai, a responsible project, made no secret that many system functions are not available offline. However, it is possible to play media (pictures, videos, etc.) unconnected. And thanks to a feature of HTML 5 – The future programming language of Web pages that Google is a strong proponent – it will be possible to run applications in the Web browser, without connection. Google has surprisingly failed to mention Gears, its proprietary technology to use web apps offline, during the presentation.
Does it know everything
It is very simple: Chrome OS will be able to do everything you can do today on the Internet, but no more. Do not expect, for example, use it to edit video or play complex games. Google says anyway that the OS was designed to animate machines “companions” for users who already have another computer to perform tasks more cumbersome.
Is it compatible with my device?
Chrome OS will read the memory cards and can send the Web photos or videos from your digital camera. In contrast, Google has remained vaguer on webcams, printers or external optical drives. Sundar Pichai, however, spoke of “an innovative approach to printing” in Chrome OS, which will be unveiled next year. Mystery and gumdrop!
Is it more secure than other OSes?
Yes, since it is impossible to install an application, a Trojan or a worm, it will obviously be more difficult to settle quietly in your system. Another advantage of using online applications: the loss or problem on your machine will not compromise your data. You can run another Chrome OS with your username and password for Google to find all of your data.