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.
IIRC, Google themselves said that at some point they’ll be merging Android & Chrome OS into one O.S. Perhaps this is a start?
Either way, seeing as how great Windows 7 is (it’s a joy to use, IMO), and what a complete catastrophe Windows 8 will be, perhaps it’s time to look at the alternatives.