Monday, December 13, 2010

Google Chrome OS Laptop

Google talked about their Chrome OS which seems to have been lost in the success of Android, until now. Now Google is starting to run a pilot program of the Chrome OS built into a laptop that they supply!

I won't mince words, I want one!

The pilot program is pretty simple. You request to be a part of it, filling out a questionnaire depending on your use (business, developer, individual, etc.) and if selected, receive a box containing the Cr-48 Chrome Notebook. Unfortunately I probably shot my foot when I mentioned that I develop in ASP.NET, though I was trying to indicate to them that I am familiar with web technology as well as Windows and Linux. Oh well.

Is this the only way to get your hands on the Chrome OS? Nope, you can get the open source Chromium OS to install on your own computer system. Other than combining a 12 inch screen, built-in Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, a webcam and 8 hours of battery life, there isn't that much different than a system running the Chrome or Chromium web browser.

So you can recreate this experience on your own system, but can this system recretae your experience on your current laptop or desktop? Yes, and no.

The biggest difference is that nothing is stored on the physical machine for the user, only system-level gunk works (drivers, system programs, services, etc.). The good side is that if something happens to the computer, nothing is lost beyond the computer.

A weakness of this is that not all applications have a cloud-based equivalent. This is where the Chrome Web Store is able to help. It provides a marketplace for people to deliver applications that work on the local system, without having to be installed like traditional applications.

Just like the Netbooks, this concept works great for the more common, mundane and non-resource hogging activities such as reading email, surfing the web, writing documents or spreadsheets and chatting. All of these, including image editing, are available in the growing list of Google applications and can assume that in time other popular applications will likewise become available. I remember Adobe even running a pilot program for Photoshop on the web!

So if you don't get one of these laptops, you can still feel the experience by either downloading and installing the Chromium OS, or just use the Chrome/Chromium browser on your system and change your thinking; don't touch that local application, or save that image to your hard drive. Pretty soon you'll probably start figuring out that cloud computing is doable, even today.

I still want one.