Google turns Chrome OS into a desktop operating system

April 12, 2012

If you ever needed evidence that no, people don’t want a browser as an operating system, it’s this: Google has updated Chrome OS to pretty much turn it into a traditional desktop operating system. This does raise the question – does anybody actually use Chrome OS?

The browser as operating system is apparently not working out for Google. In all honesty, I’ve never ever seen a Chrome OS laptop, not even in shops, and I doubt the devices are selling particularly well. Now that tablets are here, one has to wonder just how much market validity Chrome OS has left.

Google seems to acknowledge that, and has just pushed out a pretty significant update to the Dev channel, which basically turns Chrome OS into a desktop operating system. The Aura window manager and shell adds a desktop, overlapping windows, a taskbar, and is fully hardware accelerated with fancy transitions and all that.

It all looks pretty decent – very minimalist. While a lot of people are pointing to Windows 7 and Mac OS X as inspiration, it’s kind of silly to start talking about who ripped off who when it comes to a damn taskbar. Really, people, this is getting ridiculous. Stop it. You’re acting like children.

At this point, I do have to wonder – what is the purpose of Chrome OS? Does anybody use it other than as a novelty? Is there any real reason to go with Chrome OS over Windows 7 or Mac OS X? I just can’t come up with one, and while the desktopification of Chrome OS may help, I doubt it will do much to change the operating system’s image.

A hint as to where the future lies for Chrome OS comes from reading through the Aura documentation. There’s a lot of talk of different form factors, secondary monitors, and the ability to run the entire thing on Windows. All it needs now is the ability to run Android applications and widgets, and I’d suddenly be somewhat interested in using it on my ZenBook. Still, this all seems like a lot of wasted effort at this point.

In any case, if you’re on the Dev channel, you’ll already be running the update (also, that one Chrome OS user there in the back, please post your experience in the comments!). Google is bringing some Android into Chrome OS already, because Cr48 owners will not be getting this update. The hardware is supposedly too constrained, and Aura needs more slimming down and trimming before it’ll run on the Cr48.

Desktop Vendors Not Keen on Using Chrome OS

February 21, 2012

DigiTimes reports that desktop computing endors seemingly turned their nose up at Google’s Chrome OS during executive chairman Eric Schmidt’s speech in Taiwan on Wednesday. He was reportedly promoting Chrome OS as a high-profile option to Windows 7 and Ubuntu, focusing on the software’s fast boot time, a lack of virus issues and the fact that it will be offered free of charge. He urged vendors to give Chrome OS a try.

But unnamed vendors on Wednesday said that if Google really wants to cut into the PC sector, then it will need to provide more resources and support than it has with the current crop of Chromebooks. As it stands now, there has been very little demand for Chromebooks since Acer and Samsung launched their versions back in June. The former company reportedly only sold 5,000 units by the end of July, and the latter Samsung was said to have sold even less than that in the same timeframe.

According to the unnamed vendors, the problem Chrome OS faces is that it’s still too idealized. Consumers and businesses have yet to fully embrace cloud computing, storing documents and media locally on their physical drives. Popular applications are just now shifting over into the cloud by way of HTML5, but most highly-used and long-standing applications like Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite are still installed locally and used offline.

The vendors also indicated that Google is mainly pushing Chromebooks in the enterprise market, yet its cloud-based Google Docs applications doesn’t meet the needs of enterprise users. On a consumer front, Chromebooks become problematic for users who have a poor connection to the internet, or don’t have a connection at all — the “lite” cloud-based advantage suddenly becomes a huge disadvantage.

That said, it’s no surprise that vendors aren’t too keen on using Chrome OS as a major desktop platform. While many services and applications are indeed moving up into the cloud, the majority of the enterprise and consumer base hasn’t quite shifted away from physical media even though cloud computing is the “trend of the future.”

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