Google Chrome OS: What can it offer?

Today Google are going to show off their in-development operating system Chrome OS, and possibly even release a beta version. There are already three major OS choices, so what can Google do differently?

The Cloud: It’s expected that the main feature of Chrome OS will be its reliance on being online. Instead of loading your PC with tons of software, as much as possible will be accessible via cloud computing. Most computing is done while online now anyway, so this may make a lot of sense. As Google itself offers an increasingly powerful array of online tools, such an approach meshes perfectly. Perhaps it will somehow make Google’s Wave useful, instead of being the coolest web app no-one is using that it is today!

However, there has to be more to it than that, as you can already use Google’s applications from your browser, and while a stripped down OS will save disk space and CPU usage are there really so many machines out there that struggle with what’s already available? Apple’s OSX has the unique selling point of sleek sexy usability, Linux can be endlessly tinkered with by tech-heads, and Windows 7 is a lighter, better version of the dominant OS around the world. I don’t think being small and lightweight can really be enough for Chrome OS.

Security: It is rumored that Chrome OS users won’t have to deal with viruses, malware and their associated security updates due to a completely rethought approach to security architecture. This would be a godsend for everyone except Symantec and the other security software companies – but to be honest I just can’t see how you can create risk free computing, as hackers have been around forever.

Design: In the same way there is an assumption that a Google branded phone will be the best thing since the iPhone due to Google inherent good design sense, people are assuming the same from Chrome OS. Personally, I think they’ll struggle to out design Apple. Their mobile Android OS is eminently functional, flexible and really neat, but when it comes down to pick up and play design, Apple are the masters.

Maybe Google will prove me wrong. The essence of Chrome OS design is supposed to be minimalism, which I completely approve of, but if it just works like a minimal Windows or Linux like interface – that will be boring. I know it’s a tall order to reinvent the wheel, but that’s still what I want!

We’ll know all this within hours, and will update with our impressions soon.

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