Well there was a recent flurry of activity as google released more information about it’s new operating system “Chrome OS”. Basically this “OS” is simply a web browser that is installed on the bare metal with the minimum amount of guff required for networking and drivers.
At first I thought “what a load of rubbish, it will never work!” but after thinking about it a little I think they might have a winner on their hands. I have to admit to spending 90+% on “the internet” so it makes sense to strip out all the unnecessary OS guff that makes computers insecure. This means you can do away with all the updating, defragging, monitoring etc etc, which personally is fantastic thing. I want the computer to be a tool and just get out of the way and let me get on with whatever it is i’m doing. Time spent updating and maintaining my computer is time wasted.
The other 10% of stuff though is the unknown. Things like editing videos, burning dvd’s, making photo albums, plus the whole host of downloadable applications that are niche (such as astronomy applications) all wont work on Chrome OS as they are not web pages. Indeed anything that you do OUTSIDE the browser wont work on Chrome.
The reveal also included the surprise that google will only be releasing Chrome OS on dedicated hardware devices. i.e. you wont be able to download Chrome OS and install it on your own netbook (although you can download the open source version chromium os and build it yourself). The main reason for this is that in order to get the boot times down to like 5 seconds (or less) google are using custom BIOS firmwares. They are also insisting on SSD only which kind of makes sense as the foot print of Chrome is tiny, a few hundred meg. I can see a 4Gb CF card being plenty for this type of device.
All in all I think the next year or so will be an interesting one seeing how things develop and how much uptake we will see. I do think though that in 5 years time this type of device will be less than £100 and well into impulse purchase territory and most households will have at least one of these style of devices.