As a leading cloud computing and SaaS provider, everyone at Nubifer is excited about Google’s new operating system, Chrome. Designed, in Google’s words, for “people who live on the web,” (like us!) Google’s Chrome browser launched in late 2008 and now an extension of Google Chrome—the Google Chrome Operating System—has arrived. Google demonstrated its open source PC operating system on Nov. 19 and revealed that its code will be open-sourced later this year, with netbooks running Google Chrome OS available for consumers as early as the second half of 2010.
Citing speed, simplicity and security as key features, Google Chrome OS is designed as a modified browser which allows netbooks to carry out everyday computing with web-based applications. Google Chrome OS basically urges consumers to abandon the computing experience that they are used to in favor of one that exists entirely in the cloud (albeit Google’s cloud), which, you have to admit, is a pretty enticing offer. The obvious benefits of the Google Chrome OS are saving money (cloud storage replaces pricey external hard-disc drives) and gaining security (thanks to Google’s monitoring for malware in Chrome OS apps).
While may comparisons have been made between Google Chrome OS and Android (admittedly they do overlap somewhat), Chrome is designed for those who spend the majority of their time on the web, and is thus being created to power computers of varying size, while Android was designed to work across devices ranging from netbooks to cell phones. Google Chrome OS will run on x86 and ARM chips and Google is currently teaming up with several OEMs to offer multiple netbooks in 2010. The foundation of Google Chrome is this: Google Chrome runs within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel. The web is the platform for application developers, with new applications able to be written using already-in-place web technologies and existing web-based applications being able to work automatically.
Five benefits of using Google Chrome OS are laid out by Wired.com: Cost, Speed, Compatibility, Portability and New Applications. While netbooks are inexpensive, users often fork out a sizable chunk of change for a Windows license, but using Google’s small, fast-booting platform allows for this cost to be greatly downsized. Those with Linux versions of netbooks also ready know that they cost less than $50 on average and that is due to a Microsoft tax; because Chrome Os is based on Linux it would mostly likely be free. As for speed, Chrome OS is created to run on low-powered Atom and ARM processors, with Google promising boot times measured in mere seconds.
Drivers have caused major problems for those using an OS other than Windows XP on a netbook, but there is a chance that Google may devise an OS able to be downloaded, unloaded onto any machine and ready to use—all without being designed specifically for different netbook models. And now we come to portability, as Chrome allows for all of Google’s services, from Gmail and Google Docs to Picasa, to be built-in and available for offline access using Google Gears. Thus users won’t have to worry about not having data available when not connected to the Internet. As for new applications, it remains unclear whether Google will buy open-source options like the Firefox-based Songbird music player (which has the ability to sync with an iPod and currently runs on some Linux flavors) or if it will create its own.
Another company, Phoenix Technologies, is also offering an operating system, called HyperSpace. Instead of serving as a substitution for Windows, HyperSpace is an optional, complementary (notice it’s spelled with an “e,” not an “i”) mini OS which is already featured on some netbooks. Running parallel to Windows as an instant-on environment, HyperSpace allows netbooks to perform Internet-based functions, such as browsers, e-mail, multimedia players, etc., without booting into Windows. Phoenix Technologies’ idea is similar to Google’s, but Phoenix is a lesser-known company and is taking different approach at offering the mini OS than Google is with its Chrome OS.
Google’s eventual goal is to produce an OS that mirrors the streamlined, quick and easy characteristics of its individual web products. Google is the first to admit that it has its work cut out for it, but that doesn’t make the possibility of doing away with hard drives once and for all any less exciting for all of us. For more information please visit Nubifer.com.