Better mark June 15th in your agendas. Because this is the date we’ve all been waiting for. Chrome OS netbooks are coming out!
What Is Chrome OS?
Chrome OS has been in development for almost two years already. It is Google’s second operating system. The first is Android, ofcourse. Android smartphones such as the Galaxy S II are already wildly popular. When you learn more about Chrome OS, I think you’ll agree with me that it is headed down the same path as Android.
When Chrome OS was first introduced, people got excited about it right away. Chrome OS’ promise was that all its functionality would come off the web, because the browser would only be used to connect to the Internet. It would radically change the way humans interact with computers.
Don’t feel like you understand Chrome OS yet?
Chrome OS Advantages
- It’s lightweight, because it’s just a browser. This means any computer running it is going to start up in seconds
- It will automatically connect to the Internet. No more driver installations.
- Chrome OS will access all programs you want to use over the Internet. You will need to install, uninstall or reinstall anything anymore.
- All your data will be stored on Google’s servers. Space on Google’s servers is ‘infinite’, as they will always make sure there is enough of it. You’ll ‘never’ lose your data either, because Google has elaborate backup mechanisms in place to keep data secure.
- Remember the days of having to figure out what the best virus scanner is? Or the best firewall? Remember having to install and update it? Remember when your virus scanner’s manufacturer accidentally released a buggy virus dictionary and it made your virus scanner trip out with popup message windows? That maintenance nightmare is over. Google maintains the programs and the data you use.
- Updates will be run in the background, making the whole update process quick & painless.
- The sheer ease of use is going to lower the entry level to computers, making them accessible to an even larger share of the world’s population.
So in summary, Chrome OS is aiming to make the life of its users much easier. Sergey Brin, who founded Google together with Larry Page, has stated that the maintenance tasks of regular computers are torture.
And I believe he is right about that. However, I must add that the torture level goes way down the more you learn about computers. But let’s be honest. Not everybody is interested (or capable) of learning the ins and outs of computers. And in reality, it’s going to save society much money if the maintenance aspect of computers were simply to vanish.
And that’s exactly what maintenance will do thanks to Chromebooks. It’s going away. Forever, I predict. Because the advantages of Chrome OS far outway its one main disadvantage: privacy.
Chrome OS Privacy Concerns
Remember: your data is going to be stored in the cloud. That means it resides on ‘some server, somewhere’. Probably a few servers, because the cloud stores data redundantly for added security.
The upside is that your data will be truly safe. You never have to worry about it. You never have to migrate it.
The downside is that Google has access to literally all your files. It will know all about you. If you were concerned with what Google already knows about you just through using the web, then you will probably also be concered with what more Google will know about you once they have full access to all your files.
Google scans your email so that it can serve you targeted advertisements. They will likely to the same with your documents. Knowing Google and their ability to build advanced AI programs (Google is also responsible for realizing the self driving car and they’re already working hard to make it smarter), they will probably also come up with software to make sense of any personal photos you store on their cloud.
Imagine storing the pictures you took at that concert from the one band you like so much. Imagine being served with advertisements for that same band’s new album a few seconds later. I’m speculating, ofcourse. But we all know that it very well might happen.
Whether it has been voluntarily or involuntarily… it remains a fact that, over the years, we have been trading in our privacy for the sake of convenience (and some would argue safety). In a world that is moving towards a more and more interconnected future, I think privacy is going to be pretty much non existent. It’s probably best to make your peace with it.
Google Cloud Print
In Chrome OS, you can make use of Google Docs. Google Docs is a free, web based text processor service that has been live for years already. All your files are already stored online, even without using Google Docs from Chrome OS. Thanks to Google Cloud Print, you won’t have a hard time printing your documents, even when they reside online.
No matter your documents are located, you’ll be able to print them at home. Even if it’s a cloud-unaware legacy printer.
Chrome Web Store
There will be no more buying physical software packages at the store with a Chromebook. You’ll simply connect to the Chrome Web Store and download whatever you need. Despite being a store, a lot of useful applications are actually free. For some, you’ll have to pay a price. But more often than not, these prices will be much lower than what you’re used to.
When buying physical software packages you are paying a lot of overhead for the shipping, the boxing, etc. With applications coming directly from a web store, there will be no more shipping and boxing to speak of.
Both schools and companies will be able to get Chromebooks at $20 and $28 per month respectively. They will essentially be renting them, as they may only have the Chromebooks in their posession as long as they pay the monthly fee.
The upside to this is that Google promises to replace a broken Chromebook at no cost whatsoever.
Chrome OS Screenshot
Samsung And Acer Chromebooks
Hardware manufacturers Samsung and Acer are the lucky chosen ones to be bringing out the very first Chromebooks. Both manufacturers will bring out two different versions of the Chromebook: a wifi only version, and a wifi & 3G version.
The Samsung Chromebook is going to have a 12.1” screen and it is claimed that it will run for 8 hours on a full battery. The wifi version will cost $429, while the 3G version is going to cost $499.
The Acer Chromebook will have a slightly smaller screen at 11.6”. Its battery life is said to be 6.5 hours on a full battery. Also less than its Samsung counterpart. However, the wifi model of the Acer Chromebook will cost $349, which is a significant $80 lower than its Samsung counterpart. The 3G version will cost more, although no price information is known about it as of yet.
Both Chromebooks have a dualcore Atom CPU onboard. Hardware specifications such as the clock speed or the CPU generation are not yet known. Both Chromebooks also have two USB 2.0 slots onboard, as well as a 4-in-1 card reader and a 16GB SSD (solid state disk).
A noteable difference between the Samsung and the Acer Chromebooks, is that the Samsung netbook has VGA-out, while the Acer netbook has HDMI-out.
Chrome OS Hands On At Google I/O 2011
View more hands on pictures over at Engadget. They have a really nice gallery.
Chrome OS On The Desktop & Other Developments
During Google’s I/O conference, something called the Chrome Box by Samsung was also mentioned. It’s not clear what exactly it is, but it very well might be a desktop machine based on Chrome OS.
It has also been revealed that Citrix and VMware are going to focus on virtualizing applications withing the Chrome OS web browser. No details of this are known yet. But it’s clear that big names are already jumping on of the Chrome OS bandwagon.
Based on feedback from preview users, Google has already added several improvements. One such improvement is a file browser. Chrome OS web apps will also be able to integrate into the file browser with an API. This would, for example, make it easy for files to be uploaded to the cloud.
A media player has also been added. It is not yet clear which video and audio codecs will be supported. There will also be support for running applications offline coming this summer. However, Google will first focus on getting Chrome OS running with an Internet connection rather than without. You’re going to require a connection to get the most from your Chromebook, after all.
Chrome OS Keynote At Google I/O 2011
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