You’ve probably read the thousands of articles around the web about Google Chrome OS – OpenSource, Web2.0, and Linux. You probably don’t care about these three words – you may not even know what it means, so I’m going try and sum up what Google Chrome OS is about in non-tech terms and what it can mean to you, if anything.
Firstly Chrome OS is a replacement for Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS X, and even the many Linux distributions you may be already using. It’s designed from the ground up to run differently than those though, in that it’ll be primarily aimed at providing web applications to the user. Of course, you will need an internet connection to benefit from this operating system. Modern web applications, though, can continue to work when disconnected, for those times you can’t get an internet connection.
It’s going to be OpenSource, which means people from all around the world, not just Google employees, can work on the operating system by making it better/increasing functionality. It also means that you can use the operating system with no cost – you won’t need to pop down to the shops to buy this one!
Chrome OS is going to fully utilise the web – you won’t need applications on your local PC at all – no more Microsoft Office, no more lengthy installation procedures. What you will have is a “view to the web” – like a web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc), you’ll visit web sites and use applications on them. You may be familiar with Google Apps (Hotmail is an example of a web-based e-mail service, so this is also a good example of a web application) – these sort of applications are where Google want us to be (of course, that’s their core business apart from search), and they want people to embrace these new web technologies, and part of that plan is to release an operating system which can do nothing else, but use them!
Google are focusing on netbook’s to start with – but what is a netbook? A netbook is an ultraportable notebook computer, around the 9-10″ LCD screen size, lowish specification and very portable. A large amount of companies such as Carphonewarehouse, in the United Kingdon at least, are starting to bundle these small netbooks with mobile broadband contracts. They’re primarily aimed at basic web browsing and computer use on the move – Google Chrome OS will certainly strengthen their “web usage” aspect.
Will you be able to run all of your games? Probably not.. there is scope to do so, but on the specification we have up to now, it’s not looking likely. Similarly with people who use specialist packages, such as Adobe Photoshop – I don’t think Chrome OS will be for you at this point.
And that’s it really, a new operating system, which instead of running applications locally, will fully embrace web sites and new web applications running on them.
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