Although Chrome OS is based on Ubuntu, Google has no intention of targeting the mass market at this time.
Instead, Chrome OS will be certified to run on specific hardware, which will at least need an x86 or ARM processor and a solid state drive (SSD) for storage.
Most SSDs are faster than hard drives, which allows Google to keep boot time as low as possible. SSDs are also much more expensive, but this is mitigated by the fact that Chrome OS is designed to run with as little storage space as possible. We think you could buy a Chrome OS netbook with just 1GB of storage.
Chrome OS is the fastest booting Linux distro except those that launch the kernel and nothing else. Even the ultralight xPUD is slower. This is due in part to the emphasis on netbooks, which don’t have optical drives or older hardware like serial ports. Chrome OS doesn’t bother to check if the majority of devices exist.
Another key to its speed is that Google has written its own BIOS, which is the part of the system that you see before Linux loads. BIOSes have been obsolete for a few years now, but the need for backward compatibility keeps them in place.
Google has no interest in this, so a Chrome OS device is designed to take over Linux as soon as possible.
We don’t like having to type “operating system” into Chrome OS every time, but it’s necessary because Google’s web browser is simply called Chrome, and it sets web browsers on fire with its incredible speed, powerful features and slim design. Chrome already has over 40 million users worldwide, and it’s growing rapidly.
Chrome OS is little more than a full screen version of the Chrome browser. Everything you interact with is done through a tab in this web browser, so there’s no way to move windows around, no way to maximize or minimize things, no (obvious) way to install more software. and, most importantly, no way to break the personalization stuff.
The reason we put “obvious” in there is simple: Linux is Linux and a determined user can find their way to a command line and therefore to freedom, but by default Chrome OS is locked more tightly than tightly. .
Chrome OS comes with a wide variety of Linux programs, but only those that run out of sight and are needed to make the system work. There is no Firefox, no OpenOffice.org, no Gnome, KDE, Gimp, or any other Linux software we’re used to.
Instead, there’s the Chrome web browser and Google’s online services. Want to enter documents? Use Google Docs in Chrome. E-mail? Gmail. Chat with friends? Google Talk. To share photos? Watch videos? Organize your agenda? Picasa Web, YouTube and Google Calendar.
Google wants you to do everything online using your browser and its services.
The problem with working with everything online is that internet access is not as widespread as some might need, and no one wants to see their hard-to-reach or, worse yet, unavailable files.
Google is tackling this by using its Gears technology. This allows web applications to run offline in a local database, and then automatically resynchronize with the online version when the connection resumes.
The data is cached locally in case the user needs to do something without the internet – and everything is also stored online so that if the user breaks their netbook they can get another one, log into Google. and pick up where it left off.
Chrome OS is about a year away from release, so what we have today is likely to change a lot. But we don’t think we’ll see too many changes in the UI area – Chrome evolves independently of Chrome OS, and the rest of the UI experience is what Google now has in Gmail and more. . So why isn’t Chrome OS launching now?
Google wants to certify the hardware, which means it needs its partners to be ready or the deployment will be complicated. We believe it will focus on slowing down the startup speed even further and then tweaking the startup experience to be as smooth as possible.
After the initial release at the end of next year, we expect to see work to bring Chrome OS and Google Android closer together.