Google’s Chrome Operating System

If you didn’t see the buzz about the Internet in the last 24 hours – where have you been? :)

Google announced officially that they are working on a new operating system, named Google Chrome OS (just rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?).

The few interesting points made in the announcement blog posting:

  1. Targeted initially at netbooks
  2. Open source, Linux based with a new windowing system and not Android based as this will work on ARM and x86 chips.
  3. Fast and lightweight – only a browser – all running within the Chrome web browser on modern standards
  4. No worries about drivers and software updates
  5. Released available fall 2009 initially

The point that interests me is #4, as the rest of it isn’t a surprise at all.

I’m not sure I understand how they’ll handle the various cameras, printers, mice, etc. that everyone will still want to use? That’s where Windows has a huge advantage today – the wide availability of hardware for Windows. If users can’t plug in their camera and just have it work, they’ll be frustrated (and print it of course). Thankfully, there are more standards around camera connections these days – but ….

What about RAW file formats for those of that don’t shoot JPEG for example? There are frequent updates from Adobe/Nikon/Canon/etc. to handle the constant stream of new file formats and changes that occur from each manufacturer. Maybe they’ve got this all figured out – but my experience with Linux in the past is that far too often a piece of hardware that worked fine with Windows isn’t recognized by the Linux.

I wonder what Microsoft will do about Silverlight? I’d be disappointed if it didn’t work on this new class of devices if it takes off. But, I also wonder about Flash support. Just because it’s Linux doesn’t mean that Flash will work. Google believes in HTML 5 so much that I can see them not being very “open” about making it work.


  1. As far as hardware support goes, I think the answer might simply be that those who want to do that kind of thing should look elsewhere. They aren’t required to handle all the hardware thrown at them. Then again, perhaps hardware manufacturers will have to take Linux seriously if the OS grabs a decent market share.

    The Netbook market quickly went from being “small, internet capable PCs” to “small, full featured laptop” and I think Google recognizes that.

    In addition, I think that Google’s Native Client has something to do with this venture in to Linux and a largely web based OS.

    1. True — it’s interesting to see that many people are already asking the question: “what other applications will I be able to install — it’s Linux, so anything should work….” and so on. My understanding is that Google doesn’t want that initially — they want it pure, and fast — and WEB. (Plus, I believe it’s a different window system, so it wouldn’t necessarily work with KDE, etc. based applications).

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