For awhile, Google's Chrome OS has been somewhat of a mystery to end-users. It was introduced this summer, but all that we were ever provided was a cute logo and a few vague promises. Since that time, Microsoft has launched Windows 7 and Apple has introduced Snow Leopard, so it's about time for Google to step up to the plate and give everyone an update on its first non-mobile operating system.
Today, the search giant held a press conference in order to clarify more on Chrome OS, but unfortunately, there's not much here to please those demand instant gratification. Google itself admits that Chrome OS won't be ready for end users until next year, but it's taking a step in the direction of production by open-sourcing the project as Chromium OS. This means the code is free, accessible to anyone and open for contributions.
One thing that was made very clear today was that Chrome OS is, and will always be, about the web. Every application that you'll load into Chrome OS will be connected in some way to the Internet, which is sure to enrage some of you and delight others. According to Google, the "entire experience takes place within the browser and there are no conventional desktop applications; this means users do not have to deal with installing, managing and updating programs." We understand that the cloud may be the future, but we're not quite sure our lifestyles and our existing Internet infrastructure is ready to handle that.
Google claims that since all of Chrome OS' applications live within the browser, security is heightened. To quote: "Unlike traditional operating systems, Chrome OS doesn't trust the applications you run. Each app is contained within a security sandbox making it harder for malware and viruses to infect your computer. Furthermore, Chrome OS barely trusts itself. Every time you restart your computer the operating system verifies the integrity of its code. If your system has been compromised, it is designed to fix itself with a reboot. While no computer can be made completely secure, we're going to make life much harder (and less profitable) for the bad guys." Sounds good in theory, but who knows how much hassle that'll be in practice.
What do appreciate that Google is striving to make things are snappy as possible. Chrome OS will be stripped of unnecessary process, and in many ways that's possible due to the stripped-down nature of the OS. Without a doubt, this isn't going to replace Win7 or OS X. It can't handle apps like Final Cut Pro or Adobe Photoshop, but it should handle most things that basic users use on a day-to-day basis.
We're also hearing that Chrome OS won't just run on any old machine, which is probably the biggest announcement today. It'll only be able to run on specific hardware, which should optimize it greatly but alienate quite a few existing PC users who were hoping to try it out. Still, Chrome OS should be great for next year's netbooks, and possibly even a few UMPCs and MIDs. Unfortunately, that means we'll have to wait until next year to see how things pan out, but for now, the video below will get you thirsting for more.