Google held a Chrome event today, and the rumours had suggested we might see the launch of Chrome OS today. This turned out to be nonsense, and in all honesty, the entire event didn’t really deliver much in the form of new information. The Chrome Web Store has been opened, and the first Chrome OS netbooks will arrive in the middle of 2011.
Google held a long presentation showing off Chrome OS, but in it, I discovered little new information. It’s impressive for sure, though; they demonstrated Chrome running on a Windows machine next to a Chrome OS netbook, with the same user logged in on both machines. As soon as a change was made on one machine (theme change or application removed), it only took a few seconds for the changes to arrive on the other machine. True internet computing.
For the rest, it’s all stuff we already know. The entire machine is encrypted, and the operating system is loaded from read-only memory, so it’s can’t be altered (although there will be a jailbreak switch to you can install whatever you want). Of course, auto-update works as it does on Chrome. There’s also a guest account which runs entirely in incognito mode.
HTML5 offline was demonstrated as well, which allows web applications to be cached on the machine for offline use. This feature was demonstrated with Google Docs; changes are uploaded to the server once connection has been re-established. Cloud Print was also demonstrated, and it looks pretty handy.
All Chrome OS netbooks will come with mobile data connectivity (3G or 4G), and you’ll be able to buy prepaid cards from Verizon. Google used a prototype model dubbed Cr-48, a model beta testers can get their hands on via a pilot program. The machine is entirely brandless, and only comes in black.
It’s interesting tech for sure, but I’m not particularly interested in what is essentially a thin-client. I want a real, grown-up laptop (I actually have one), but I also know I’m a dinosaur. On top of that, there’s no 3G in my small redneck hometown.
This is just the first step. The next step is putting this into a phone. Then all you need is a dock for your keyboard/mouse/monitor. When you’re out it’s your phone, when you’re in it’s your PC. If it gets lost just reset your password and buy a new one. Life in the cloud. I believe we’ll see this very concept before the end of the decade. Whether it takes off or not is another story.