Google's Chrome OS Announced

by Ryan Smith on 7/8/2009 12:00 AM EST


Back to Article

  • tygrus - Sunday, July 12, 2009 - link

    If the Browser is the centre of the OS and interface then will all the functions and utilities be accessible from the browser ?
    How can you make it flexible and updateable if you lockdown the browser ?
    It seems to be a security & useability nightmare.
  • sikahr - Friday, July 10, 2009 - link

    It's cheap pocketable Facebook/Twitter machine.

    I believe many people will want that.
  • yyrkoon - Friday, July 10, 2009 - link

    Change "people" to sheople" , and I would have to agree ;)

    Those of us who do make actual use of our various systems however will most likely not even bother. I know I wont, but I would not mind browsing through the code just to see what was done. Others have already made fine points for possible other uses . . . personally though, I think I would rather stick to my "geekdome" and netboot from a local PXE server *if* the need for a thin client arose.

    Could get interesting *if* USB boot support was included though.
  • zidanne - Thursday, July 09, 2009 - link

    Years ago, in 2007 i think, i was trying Symphonyos, an Linux kernel, a http server and Firefox as render. So "all are old and new are all" like as a poet said.

  • araczynski - Thursday, July 09, 2009 - link

    interesting, if the equivalent of a Adblock+ finds its way on it someday, I would consider it, until then they can keep it. Reply
  • Griswold - Thursday, July 09, 2009 - link

    Its great for Netbook junkies and everyone who blindly steps into the cloud trap set up for them not only by google.

    Totally not interesting for me and certainly quite a few others who value their data, privacy and work higher than buzz-words.
  • SirKronan - Thursday, July 09, 2009 - link

    You know, you and another above poster mention something important - so much personal information in one centralized location.

    As long as this web based OS has the ability to run completely offline with local files, apps, etc. Applications and addons are downloaded from the internet and added via Google's interface, but can be ran locally and independent of an internet connection. If this is the way it's done then I still see some privacy as being possible. Shut off your Wi Fi and no one can get in to what personal information is stored on your computer. It shouldn't be mandatory for us to store ALL personal information and important documents completely on the web. I still want all my stuff on a local disk, and I think they'll have it this way.... hope so, anyways.
  • Stas - Thursday, July 09, 2009 - link

    Google needs to be careful with this. Most people are too stupid to realize that with Google Search, Gmail, Google Docs, etc. all aspects of their lives come under the eye of 1 multi-billion dollar company: banking, personal emails, important documents (wills, taxes, certificates, etc), anything you would have on a computer is accessible by Google. So, with a terminal client like this, they better distract people with, "Oh, look Android! This new xxx phone is so sick!" "These thin clients are so cheap! Save the Earth!" blah, blah, blah, as long as no one looks over and sees Google's hands full of private information of half the people on the planet and asks, "Umm... What are you doing with that, and why should we trust you?" So far Google hasn't failed. And I don't see why people would suddenly start paying attention. So, good game, Google, good game. Reply
  • nubie - Thursday, July 09, 2009 - link

    Screw Netbooks, I want this on my terminals.

    There are a large percentage of users who would benefit from this.

    I have been wondering when Microsoft will jump on the "browser OS" market that they could foster if they tried. Make it simple, make it cheap, make it ubiquitous, then you will make money and make people happy. Most people "new" to PC's, (AKA older people), just want to reach the facetube myplace and don't want a bunch of stuff with the potential for failure.

    It does need to have basic functionality, even if it is just embedded in the browser, such as file management and simple programs to run. Open Office and Pidgin come to mind as the most needed.
  • SirKronan - Thursday, July 09, 2009 - link

    This is the first news I've seen in a while that could potentially be game changing. This makes a netbook truly a "NETBOOK"!

    Dumbing down Linux and making it as simple and idiot proof as possible, while allowing massive expansion via easily installed web apps and addons, many of which will undoubtedly be free, cheap, and others that will be user created, could point to some serious potential. With driver and app control all in-house, similar to the control Apple has, which ensures a smooth user experience, Google might actually be able to deliver a similar smooth, easy experience to the netbook user, but it wouldn't be limited to specific Google hardware. The netbooks are already limited simply by hardware pricing constraints, thus limiting the variety of hardware Google will have to make their OS support.

    And if they can add future support based on demand/request from the owners of netbooks, and make it point and click easy for those same owners, they will have a win. I really hope they make something successful and competitive out of this.

    Linux might be great for Anand fans, but it still intimidates a lot of basic users, and wouldn't it be nice to have even more alternatives that are popular and well supported than just OSX or Windows?? I can't see this doing anything but really helping the customer in the long run, unless they don't support it or market it properly.
  • Diesel Donkey - Thursday, July 09, 2009 - link

    I find it interesting that the author draws a parallel between Chrome OS and Apple's failed attempts at web apps on the iPhone, but there is no mention whatsoever of Palm's webOS. As far as I can tell, Chrome OS and webOS operate on EXACTLY the same principals:

    > GUI on top of a Linux kernel
    > all apps written in HTML, Javascript, CSS
  • iwodo - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    A few things to note. If Intel Manage to Boot up a General Netbook / PC in Less then 5 Seconds. Then I can see this Chrome OS boot up in less then that.

    ARM will have a Dual Core Cortex A9 out first half next year. Which should be more then capable for what Chrome OS needs.

    Flash for ARM is also coming out Next year..... Coincidence?

    This Thin Client, with maybe 4GB of SSD, and 4GB of Memory. Should be very cheap to make.

    Since College / School / Library / Office will need some computer only for Email. Google could subsidize the price of these clients into their Google Apps and Gmail contract.
  • iwodo - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    I forgot to mention how library computers would save huge amount of electricity bills, ( Could be less then 20W compare to 50 - 90W Standby ) and less security concern. Reply
  • techpops - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    Agreed, the whole OS could be in memory and hit near instant on off speeds. Very cheap to run and make. Netbooks won't need to keep on driving for faster performance to handle things like Windows 7 when this tiny OS can work in very modest requirements.

    The pluses are many the more I think about it.

    Lowest power solution suitable for anyone.
    Will run on any Netbook
    Massive brand behind it, should gain traction
    more secure than windows
    no software to upgrade yourself, everything auto updating for you on the front and back end

    And to the person that wonders what happens if you go offline. Google Gears takes care of that. You can use gmail offline with that and other google apps. Web developers would soon catch on to this if they saw a hint of the platform gaining traction.
  • brightstar - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    Ya, didn't see that one coming....whatever. Reply
  • winterspan - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    This is very strange. Why on earth would you want a computer with LESS FUNCTIONALITY than your smartphone?

    Given that I've heard of manufacturers playing around with Android on a smartphone, I figured that Google just put a new face on Android in order to run a desktop GUI. That is certainly what I think they should do if they want an OS. Either that, or work with Ubuntu and make a netbook version of Ubuntu that is heavily integrated Google applications and perhaps using a harddened security/sandboxing layer.
  • techpops - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    I don't think you or I would want this as a main computer, but people like us are in a minority.

    Ubuntu would be a disaster and has already proved itself as one with current Netbooks. Again only a very tiny percentage of people would be interested in it and understand what the benefits were of having a full OS that you can run anything you like on from a vast catalog of software.

    The majority of people just want to surf, use Facebook, email and have some kind of office suite. A stripped down Google OS would give you all that in a small footprint without any messing around with installations or even software upgrades. Google handle all the back end for you, they update the software, it's a complete no brainer for the non techies to get into this.
  • zerobug - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    Now,what MS could do is to pick up a Linux kernel embed it with IE and announce their new MSChrome o/s. Providing they can disambiguate and open source IE,

  • wicko - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    Then it becomes absolutely useless. Netbooks are portable, and more than likely to come across situations without any internet access. Then what? You'll need a 2nd OS. Reply
  • KidneyBean - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    I'm excited by this. I would love to have a little cube that I plug into the Internet as my computer. Something like this could run on a cell phone!

    Hmmm... come to think of it, that solution already exists. Goodbye computer!

    Now we just need a heads up display that I can wear like glasses. Whatever happened to that?
  • KidneyBean - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    On second thought, I haven't seen a cell phone with an HDMI or DisplayPort yet. Has anyone else seen or heard of that in the works? Reply
  • medi01 - Monday, July 13, 2009 - link

    Well, actually some mobo makers (at least ASUS) ships this kind of "fast starting linux" with media player and web browser.

    But nobody is making noise about it. Well, maybe because ASUS doesn't have 90% of the web search market.
  • Anonymous Freak - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    Nowhere does Google say that ChromeOS won't support Flash and Java. Flash and Java are both available for Linux; and both for Linux/ARM as well as Linux/x86.

    I see no reason Google would screw themselves by not including these two (still) vital web technologies. Especially vital when you can't run any 'native' apps, and all apps must be web-based.
  • yyrkoon - Friday, July 10, 2009 - link

    I would like to point out that Java is not Java script, and really has nothing to do with any web browser.

    I wanted to point this out to Ryan as well since "Java" is in his blog post. Java is a multi platform runtime environment, Javascript, is a scripting language supported by many browsers. Javascript also is probably needed more than flash as a side note . . .
  • techpops - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    I agree, it would be the kiss of death to ignore Flash right now. Java I don't see as important. Reply
  • befair - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    another lame post Reply
  • techpops - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    I think its safe to say that most people reading Anandtech are real techies or on the path to being one. Despite the tech bubble we live in giving us the feeling that this is just the norm, this tech bubble is very small.

    The majority of computer users, the masses, they don't even know what a web browser is. Google launching an OS for Netbooks will surely work as even these masses are aware of Google. The fact they wont be able to run applications outside of the browser won't be an issue for this huge majority. In fact, having everything in one place under some Google dock of web apps will probably be all the majority need.

    If i take my sister as an example, she has been using computers for many years now but has no interest in operating systems, the hardware or anything other than what she needs to click to get to Facebook. She shows no signs of ever learning more than she needs to get to a site like this. Many studies are out there showing just how little the majority of computer users know and how common this kind of thing is.

    Netbooks are fast becoming the standard way people will access the net wirelessly. Aside from Smart phones, which are tied into horrible contracts that stifle the massive growth they could be having (I'm looking at you iPhone!) Laptop sales are dropping, the desktop hasn't seen a boost in sales since Windows XP launched, so it makes absolute sense to go for the Netbook market as the place to catch the largest number of new users over time.

    With Googles OS being offered for free, I believe they would have a huge hit on their hands tying in large numbers of users to the Google brand, just like Microsoft does today.

    Very smart move for Google as I don't see how Microsoft can compete with free, unless they also make Windows 7 free for Netbooks and I can't see that happening. Microsofts whole business model revolves around revenue from Windows and Office.

    Also consider Google now has the biggest ad platform on the planet and you can see how selling this to the masses is not going to be too much of a headache.

    I bet MS are sh***** themselves right now and Apple are breathing a sign of relief knowing they no longer rely on the desktop market.
  • kevinkreiser - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    it better not have google chrome as the default web browser. in fact, it should have no browser at all, in an effort to placate the EU. that way you can have a netbook that cant surf the net. Reply
  • Rigan - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    Point one, the Google article does not say flash will not be available. Flash works fine under Linux and fine under Chrome. The plug-in will most likely be installed.

    Point two, the Google article does not say a new "window manager" it says a new "windowing system." In the Linux world X is the windowing system, but others exist. And, even if the writer of the Google article was being sloppy they have to build any sort of gui on a tool kit, which means GTK+ or QT. The Linux version of Chrome is built on GTK+, so you can be virtually certain that will be installed.
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    1) Flash is not open source, Chrome and Linux are. Canonical has pushed the issue some by including Flash with Ubuntu, but I don't see Google doing the same thing. Google's situation is particularly problematic since they would need Adobe to write a version of Flash specifically for the Linux/ARM combination they're going to be using. And Gnash isn't really an option either - it's buggy and likely will continue to be that way for the forseeable future. I would be genuinely surprised if Chrome OS came with Flash support.

    2) Thanks for that, I had two thoughts run together on that one. Even though Chrome for Linux uses GTK+, both Qt and GTK+ are fairly hefty frameworks. Google can easily write a much smaller framework and desktop environment that will better fit the lightweight approach they're going for. GTK+ and Qt would be overkill for what Google wants to do - they don't need most of the functions, and they definitely don't need the extra resource usage that brings.
  • yyrkoon - Friday, July 10, 2009 - link

    "2) Thanks for that, I had two thoughts run together on that one. Even though Chrome for Linux uses GTK+, both Qt and GTK+ are fairly hefty frameworks. Google can easily write a much smaller framework and desktop environment that will better fit the lightweight approach they're going for. GTK+ and Qt would be overkill for what Google wants to do - they don't need most of the functions, and they definitely don't need the extra resource usage that brings."

    Why reinvent the wheel when something already exists? Sure, Google can do many a useful thing, but what about *programming* them self into a corner ? What you propose would not be very open ended, and could potentially lead to problematic code. Yes, any one could do the same, including the DEV teams for the above "frameworks".

    I know very little about Qt, and GTK+, however I am sure there could be, or possibly already is a light framework. Just like the mobile .NET framework . . . Anything is possible, but one thing I do know for sure is that developers would be more likely to embrace a well known/established library than to embrace a new one, that has no proven track record, and offers very little aside from communicating/interacting with a proprietary web browser.

    To everyone else:

    The one immediate positive thing that I can think about this is that it is OSS, and people may want to toy around with the code, and possibly turn it into something else. Perhaps even learn a thing or two. Or even teach the people at Google something ( which is probably why Google software is OSS to begin with ).

    However, I myself do use Chrome/gmail. Aside from that I not unlike many others would not want Google to have their hands in my business. I think web based mail is a great idea; for many reasons. On the flip side, Google could use this information for their own benefit, or just close shop and leave everyone out in the cold. This is why I believe it is a much better idea for people who need redundant copies of their own files, whatever they may be; that they should learn how, spend the money, and do it for themselves. If they do not care to learn how, pay someone else to do it for them. Someone who has no access to your data when they are finished.

    What happens when you do not have internet ? Or when you need to do a serious edit of an image, or video file ? Do you have broadband, and if so would you trust just any Joe with your data whether you profit from it or not ?

    Seeing both good and bad from this, I could go on all day. Unfortunately for Google, it is more bad than good.
  • KidneyBean - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    Google has more leverage than Canonical.

    Maybe Google will update Google Video and Youtube to HTML 5 for the release of Google Chrome OS. I think that would make it tolerable for many people not to have Flash. And things will only get better as time goes on.
  • ianken - Thursday, July 09, 2009 - link

    The problem with HTML 5 is the pissing contest over codecs. Opera wants OGG, everyone else wants H.264. The spec guys threw in the towel.

    Will these netbooks do either well? Not without GPU acceleration. ChromeOS have it? What API will they emply to support it?

    This'll be like the "magic gate" option on Asus mainboards. The thing yhou use to go online when your real OS bites the dust.
  • bobjones32 - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    With hundreds of millions of people using iPods and iPhones, among other devices, I can't see this taking off. With no support for native applications, it means no support for iTunes (or similar apps), which means no support for syncing their data.

    The general consumer doesn't want to mess around with multiple computers just so they can do what they want to do on each of them. They'll recognize that Chrome OS doesn't do what they want it to do, and opt for a netbook running XP or Windows 7 instead.
  • medi01 - Monday, July 13, 2009 - link

    Hundreds of milions?

    "According to this live blog of the Apple Quarterly conference call the sum of iPhone plus Touch iPods is now about 37 million units."">

    And coupling with iTunes for me personally is a reason NOT to buy.
  • SkullOne - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    If everything is a web application what happens when you can't access the Internet? ;) Reply
  • captainBOB - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    Its still a long time until we see Chrome OS, its still possible that Google will change the whole idea and go to a full OS with just the basics, file browser, Chrome, text editor, etc. Reply
  • psonice - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    There's no way this will be widely taken up, although I expect it'll get massive publicity as it has the word "google" in it and it'll be seen as a challenger to windows.

    It's great that it'll boot in seconds and run super fast, but there's a serious flaw in the plan. It'll only run web-based apps. You know, the apps that are like your normal desktop ones, except much less powerful, and much slower. And it'll be running them on a netbook, with a weak CPU, so it'll be even slower.

    A netbook with windows or linux will run exactly the same apps at pretty much exactly the same speed, with the only disadvantage being longer boot times. Unless you use standby. The windows/linux machine will be able to run those fast and powerful native apps too. And the linux one at least will cost the same. And won't tie you in to google mail/docs/search/everything.

    That said, it will be great for computers that ONLY need web access. Then you don't lose anything, and you gain speed + security. Small market unfortunately.
  • Mills - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    Agreed, I think the main problem is it will not run Outlook, which tends to be critical in the business sector.

    Maybe you'll get a few students on a budget buying this if the price is low enough, but otherwise I don't see this gaining any traction.

  • SkullOne - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    I think this will be a very small niche market for start up companies who need things like e-mail on the cheap in the beginning. If the company takes off you'll see them move to Windows, MS Exchange, Office and Blackberries.

    Plus the world has already shown what they want on netbooks and that's Windows. Ubuntu captured what? Less then 5% of the netbook market?

    The Average Joe doesn't want Linux in any way, shape or form.

  • daniel142005 - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    I work for a K-12 school and I think this would actually be useful. Almost everything we use now is web based... email, gradebook, and we are hopefully switching to google docs soon. Having the Chrome OS on our low end machines for teachers that use it for nothing more would be perfect. Of course Flash will have to be supported... but I think Google is smart enough to know that.

    Also, "I don't like the idea that even if I delete something, it will live on for years and could be grabbed by the Government for whatever purposes they may have (yes I know I'm being paranoid, but I prefer to keep personal info personal and out of reach of prying eyes)."

    When you delete something from Google's servers, it is deleted. They have no interest in keeping copies of your files after you have removed them. If you are that worried about personal info or prying eyes, then encrypt it or don't upload it. If you want to stick to this theory then you better unplug your computer from the internet, who knows what Microsoft is able to embed into their OS... they could have a way to access whatever file they want and just leave it inactive... (I doubt it... but you get the idea)
  • stromgald30 - Thursday, July 09, 2009 - link

    Google actually doesn't delete stuff that you set for deletion. They have enough space on their servers that they only delete stuff some time after you hit delete. I'm not sure how long that time is, but there is a significant delay from what I've heard from google employees.

    Secondly, your school might be switching over to Google Docs, but any serious user of an office suite, whether it's OpenOffice or MS Office, will tell you that Google Docs is missing alot of functionality. It's a nice start, but not suited for anything other than light use.
  • nilepez - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    As a netbook OS, it could work. IMO, that's about all netbooks are good for. If you need to do much more than some light typing or browsing, the small screen and keyboard are too much of a PITA.

    Now will everyone move to web apps? That I don't know. I wouldn't feel comfortable having all my documents in Google's hands. I don't trust Google anymore than I trusted MS in the 90's...and MS didn't have access to my financial and personal info. What's more, even if i did trust google, I don't like the idea that even if I delete something, it will live on for years and could be grabbed by the Government for whatever purposes they may have (yes I know I'm being paranoid, but I prefer to keep personal info personal and out of reach of prying eyes).
  • Xenoterranos - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    I was about to post this. Netbooks are basically just thin clients anyway, and they've helped a lot of people realize that A) They don't really need as much computer as they thought they did, and B) Their pictures are safer of Flickr anyway where they won't go *poof* like they did the last time their hard drive died. I know tons of people who use Google Docs specifically for this reason.

    (Mind you, they're latently paranoid, so if you mentioned the whole google=cthulhu thing to them, it'd probably obliterate their world-view.)
  • ytoledano1 - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    It lets them feel that even though its small and cheap, it still looks similar to the PC they have at home. Reply
  • prophet001 - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    isn't the end game of this to get their hands deeper into their user's lives and data?
    i'm not getting on the web os bandwagon
  • KidneyBean - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    No soup for you!
    -Nazi Soup Guy

    Although I think the writers stole that concept from Milton Friedman's "There's no such thing as a free lunch".
  • HavocX - Saturday, July 11, 2009 - link

    You mean Robert Heinlein's? Reply
  • helms - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    If its fast/low resource friendly then it could be used in very old computers e.g. 200mhz with 32mb ram. Then outdated pc's could be turned into internet terminals. Instead of being thrown away as trash. Reply
  • Chadder007 - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    200mhz wouldn't run Javascript efficiently enough on pages either anymore... Reply
  • nilepez - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    I doubt it will run on a 200mhz with 32mb of ram. Why would Google design an OS to run under constraints that haven't existed at least a decade? It's nice to save PCs from landfills, but the truth is the vast majority of those PC's haven't been used in years. My oldest working computer is an Athlon 1800+ XP. I'm sure it could run a Google OS, but it also has 512mb of ram (and he PC before that has 256, while the one before it had 128). Reply
  • Parhel - Friday, July 10, 2009 - link

    Why? So that the OS will run on the lowest spec'ed mobile devices, and still run quickly.

    To the poster above, keep in mind that while Chrome is using 25MB, that's in a Windows environment. Who knows how much it will use under an OS designed to do just that one thing?

    200mhz / 32mb may be a little on the low side, but not out of the ball park. At least if they're trying to do what I think they're trying to do.
  • ssj4Gogeta - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    Just running the new tab page in Chrome uses 25 MB. There's no way those heavy web apps can fit inside 32 MB along with the Linux kernel and the window manager. Reply
  • Storkme - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    I can see this being installed alongside windows, linux, etc as a easy fast-booting web sessions, but what about for the more techical user? They're not gonna want to drop the functionality of their primary OS for just a web browser, surely? Reply
  • setzer - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    well, the only time i'm out of my main OS and would actually use a *web* only OS, is when I'm having some issue with my computer, and even in that case i prefer to use my laptop with full blown OS just in case i need to do something other than browse sites...
    I've dual booted before but unless you are running linux/osx and want to play some windows games what is the point of dual boot?
    We already have linux on netbooks and it doesn't sell, regardless of the fact that it can run almost everything except games, it just doesn't sell. What chance does an underpowered OS has?
    As for google apps, they are very nice for a quick fix and what not but they lack the power of a full office application.

    To sum it up, I see no way in which this can prove successful. Like was said in the article unless it's to foster some development like Javascript engines and what not, this will fail and will join the long list of google projects that got scrapped.

    but this is just my two cents.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now