The Google Blog announced the news that developers and computer users have long anticipated: Google Chrome OS is now a reality. The new operating system brings the power of Google technology to netbooks and laptops much in the way that Android brought it to smartphones.
Complete with its own store where applications can easily be acquired for installation, the Chrome OS is expected to revolutionize the world of portable computing, putting direct pressure on operating systems like Linux and Microsoft in the market space where small, portable computers are for sale.
What’s in a name?
Sharing the same name as Google’s ultrafast, ultra-light Chrome Web browser, Google’s Chrome OS is expected to blur the lines between Web interface and operating system, creating a unified, functional whole that will seamlessly power Internet applications.
What does Chrome OS do?
One of the attractive features of Chrome OS is that it boots portable computers in record time. As eWeek describes it, Google wants to make starting a computer more like turning on a TV set. Initial reports indicate success.
Rather than behaving like traditional operating systems, Chrome combines its boot loader and kernel, saving a lot of time on startup because no programs have to load in the process.
The Google Chrome OS comes with unique security features that check credentials and encrypted signatures to ensure that the operating system is intact. If these automatic checks fail, the system can automatically rebuild itself by accessing Web based resources. The system is also capable of automatically updating itself when changes become available.
Cloud computing for the masses
One of the signature features of Chrome OS is its reliance on the Internet (also known as the cloud) for its applications. Internal storage requirements are minimal because applications do not reside on the client machine, meaning that fast solid state drives can be used to make Chrome-powered devices even faster.
Google demands that devices running Chrome OS be equipped with wireless 802.11n support to ensure that it accesses Web based applications quickly enough to be usable.
Google Chrome OS changes the way users have worked with computers for decades. The absence of local applications, the irrelevance of local drive space, the quick, nearly instant-on operation, and the cloud based storage, and the media-free Web only delivery of applications revolutionizes the traditional approach to the use of computers.
At first, Google OS will be available only on netbooks with full size keyboards. Look for Google OS powered devices on store shelves early next year. Eventually, laptops of all sizes, tablet PCs and even desktop terminals could be powered by this new OS.