Five things Google’s Chrome OS will do for your netbook


Chrome OS, Google’s new computer operating system, arrives this fall and promises to revolutionize netbooks and other underpowered machines. Essentially, the operating system is a small, quick-start platform whose purpose is to run a browser and from there all the Google apps and other web services you know and love. But why bother? Your netbook already has a browser and access to Google applications. What could Chrome do for you and your netbook?

Cost

Netbooks are inexpensive. So cheap that a disproportionate share of the cost is a Windows license. Have you ever wondered why Linux versions of netbooks cost around $ 50 less? Microsoft tax. Chrome OS is based on Linux and, like most Google products, will be free, which will drop the price of a netbook by 10% to $ 500.

Speed

Windows 7 runs faster than Vista on a netbook. Scratch that off. Windows 7 runs on a netbook, period. But Chrome OS is designed to run on low-power Atom and ARM processors, and web apps don’t require as much client-side power, so they should be even faster. Better, it will be small. Google promises boot times measured in seconds, not minutes, so battery life should also be increased – it will be possible to cold start instead of sleeping or hibernating the machine, saving valuable juice. .

Compatibility

Google says that “[Users] don’t want to spend hours setting up their computers to work with every new hardware, or having to worry about constant software updates. One of the big problems with using anything other than Windows XP on a netbook has been the drivers. Try installing OS X on one of them if you don’t believe us, or on any version of Linux that is not specifically designed for your model. If Google can come up with an operating system that can be downloaded, dropped on any machine, and then “just works”, we could have the ultimate portable operating system.

Portability

Netbooks are meant for the road. At home, a bigger computer is almost always better, but when traveling, a netbook shines. Swapping between the two is a pain, however. With Chrome, you can bet that all of Google’s services – Gmail, Google Docs, Picasa, etc. – will be integrated and will have offline access via Google Gears. If you are a good citizen of Google and use all of these services, you will never have to worry about having all of your latest data with you whether you have an internet connection or not.

New applications

With its web services, Google is slowly duplicating everything we can do locally on our computers. Almost. There are a few things that Google isn’t doing yet, including a video player and a music jukebox. Sure, there’s YouTube, but what happens when you want to watch something other than a dog skateboarding in a blender? There are open source options: the awesome VLC video player just hit version 1.0, for example, and the Firefox-based Songbird music player can even sync with an iPod. Both already work on some versions of Linux.

Google can use them, buy them, or even launch their own. One thing’s for sure, though: if Google can deliver a full operating system that’s as clean, fast, and focused as its individual web products, Chrome OS could be a revolution. A free revolution that could make Microsoft extremely uncomfortable at the moment.

Google announces PC operating system will compete with Windows [Wired – Epicenter]Product sheet [Google]

Photographic illustration by Charlie Sorrel / Wired.com; Original photo: Jon Snyder / Wired.com

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