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Google Lifts the Curtain on Chrome OS

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 33 comments

Google has finally revealed details about its highly anticipated netbook operating system, Chrome OS.

At a press event in California yesterday, Google gave details of its latest venture, this one representing the search giant's foray into the OS market. Based around web-based applications like Google Docs and Gmail, the Chrome OS is essentially a bulked up version of the Chrome browser already available from Google.

Given that it's pretty much just Chrome with more stuff, it's no surprise to see that the OS itself looks just like the Chrome browser, tabs and all. The group of tabs you see on the top left is actually a task bar, showing all the applications you've got running.

While it's all going to be a largely browser-based experience, you're not going to be stuck in the same window for every application, switching back and forth between writing up a document, chatting and watching videos. Some applications will have their own windows, similar to what you have with Gtalk.  This is largely for smaller apps like the ones that allow you to listen to music or chat with friends. These panels are collapsible and will 'float above' your regular content. Finally, you'll also be able to have multiple windows, so you're not confined to just one window with a bevy of application tabs.

Alright, but what happens when you're not connected to the web? Can you still use your computer? The answer is yes. Google will be offering the capability to use some programs when there is no connection, similar to the way Gears allows you to use Google Docs and Gmail offline. But, even if you're working offline, remember all of your data is stored in the cloud, a set up that a lot of people have trouble trusting.

So, considering all apps are webapps, our first question was, "What are they going to do about security?" Our biggest concerns were viruses and nasty bits of malware, Google says having all apps live within the browser actually offers significant benefits when it comes to security. Caesar Sengupta, and Matt Papakipos (Group Product Manager and Engineering Director, respectively) explained that the Chrome OS doesn't trust the applications you run, so each app is contained within a security sandbox making it harder for malware and viruses to infect your computer. Furthermore, every time you restart your computer the operating system verifies the integrity of its code and if your system has been compromised, it's designed to fix itself with a reboot.

Check out the videos below, one of which is more of a "Chrome OS for dummies," and the other which actually shows how the Chrome OS will work.

[UPDATE] Have added the entire presentation in case you have nearly an hour and a half to spare. It is Friday . . .

What is Google Chrome OS?

Google Chrome OS UI Concept Video

Google Chrome OS Open Source Project Announcement

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  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , November 20, 2009 12:41 PM
    you know, i think this has potential and all, but there is no way so many people would change over from windows to make this truly successful.
  • 7 Hide
    tipoo , November 20, 2009 12:43 PM
    Meh. Its like a souped up Instant-On OS.
  • Display all 33 comments.
  • 4 Hide
    sublifer , November 20, 2009 12:49 PM
    I'd like to know what its doing for file management... grabbing pics off a camera and putting them in picasa or whereever is one thing but what about if you want to keep it on the PC? I've had tons of ideas on file management and I just want to see if they're gonna stick to a simple file explorer or if they're going to make it an EXPERIENCE.
  • 7 Hide
    farrell4g , November 20, 2009 12:53 PM
    It'll be interesting to see if it will catch on. It is free after all, and might not need the learning curve of linux.....
  • 5 Hide
    David the Gnome , November 20, 2009 1:00 PM
    It seems like you should be able to run this on a system with very minimal specs. If nothing is really stored on the computer then you don't need more than a couple GB's of space on the computer. If you purpose built a machine to run on this OS you could probably have a fully functional computer for well under $100.
  • 4 Hide
    apache_lives , November 20, 2009 1:31 PM
    (Inter)net-book simplicity - couldnt have made it any easier, the title explains it all, SIMPLE.
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , November 20, 2009 1:40 PM
    I’m not sure about storing confidential information (banks/account details etc) on Google servers; for sure it will get hacked. I think Google OS should have options to choose between storing data online or disk.

    The simplicity approach of Goggle Chrome Os is good and should have been implemented by major Linux distributors (RedHat, SUSE, Manadrake etc) many years ago.

    They should change the name to: Google Ads Bombardier 2010

  • 2 Hide
    ytoledano , November 20, 2009 1:42 PM
    Would be great if it could connect to a remote computer running Windows using RDP.

  • -2 Hide
    tayb , November 20, 2009 1:42 PM
    There will be no mass market appeal of this OS except for system builders using it as a glorified "instant on" OS on top of the Windows install.
  • 1 Hide
    the_one111 , November 20, 2009 1:45 PM
    farrell4gIt'll be interesting to see if it will catch on. It is free after all, and might not need the learning curve of linux.....

    Linux doesn't have that big a learning curb. Ubuntu would probably be easier to navigate than Chrome simply because it is very much like MS's UI.

    All in all I think it will get downloaded because it is made by "Google" even though Ubuntu/Windows can do everything this can and more.
  • 6 Hide
    tortnotes , November 20, 2009 1:54 PM
    So wait.
    If everything is stored in the cloud... what does that mean for photos, videos, music files? Whenever I access these things, am I downloading the file or am I streaming it through a browser?
    What does that mean for any kind of serious editing or manipulation? Or for transferring 10GB of stuff to my mp3 player? I wouldn't want to throw all of that across my network connection. It would be agonizingly slow. :/ 

    Sounds cool for the netbook crowd, but I can't see using this all the time. I like the near instant on feature, but unless I'm in a hurry I'll want Windows so I can actually, you know, do something other than look at stuff.
  • 1 Hide
    kingssman , November 20, 2009 1:57 PM
    SO...... Is this thing gonna be like OSX? where there will be an EFI and only a specific set of supported hardware but a read only OS drive, and apps run either on the web or in a DOS like environment?
  • 1 Hide
    donaldduck , November 20, 2009 2:06 PM
    As it is now, it is definitely interesting in terms of plain usability. After all most of Google' software (Chrome, the browser, in primis) aims towards simplicity (as-in user-friendly).

    My geek-question about this is: since Chrome OS is based on Linux's kernel, when will we see a native and stable release of Chrome browser on other Linux distro (ok, slightly off-topic, sorry)?

    [UPDATE] Have added the entire presentation in case you have nearly an hour and a half to spare. It is Friday . . .

    I always like this laid-back approach to work :D 
  • 1 Hide
    counselmancl , November 20, 2009 2:43 PM
    In Google we trust...
  • 0 Hide
    zak_mckraken , November 20, 2009 2:44 PM
    But, even if you're working offline, remember all of your data is stored in the cloud

    Like tortnotes asked, what about multimedia files? Surely I can and will have local files? Besides that, I think Chrome could be a great way to put some life back in my old Celeron notebook.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , November 20, 2009 3:04 PM
    If everything is stored in the cloud, what is the true cost of the OS once ISP's start charging per GB downloaded? That could get pricey!
  • 0 Hide
    matt2k , November 20, 2009 3:27 PM
    i really like the idea, all i ask for is local storage as well, so i can watch movies/listyen to music while out of range of wi-fi (airplane, car etc)
    i mean, who really does intense computational tasks with a NETBOOK?
  • 0 Hide
    Raid3r , November 20, 2009 3:53 PM
    Either the OS encrypts all pertinent items before ant type of data exchange or its a good time for a third party to take advantage of that and do it for the os before upload. Or obviously local storage.
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