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The author

James Holding

Head of Analytics

News about Google’s chrome operating system has been bandied around for a while now, although recently it appears to be nearing completion. The whole aim of the chrome OS project is to provide a fast, free operating system optimised entirely for web usage. Entering into the operating system market should give Microsoft food for thought, as they have dominated this space since the introduction of windows many years ago.

Benefits

Chrome OS claims many benefits over competitors operating systems including:

  • Boot times as low as 10 seconds
  • Instant sleep resumption
  • Access to YOUR files on any chrome OS due to cloud based storage
  • Advanced anti-virus based technology (only time will tell on this one)
  • Upgrades to the latest edition without any annoying prompts
  • Millions of web apps planned including a Chrome Web App store (already proven mightily successful with the mobile market https://chrome.google.com/webstore )

Moving to the cloud

Microsoft is also projecting “the cloud” to be the important development over the next few years, and Google’s addition of a chrome OS dedicated to this function could have them worried. There have been free operating systems around for many years with the various iterations of Linux; however, these have never been able to dethrone Microsoft. A large part of Microsoft’s dominance is down to compatibility, and wide spread use of the various software solutions they provide, be it in a home or work environment. Replacing software that people are used to, and getting around the widespread compatibility issue will be key in getting businesses to consider using chrome as a replacement platform. Cloud computing requires internet access to browse and save your files and such, and the reliability and access to the internet will hold back the adoption of the cloud. I get frustrated going back to older desktop computers where file browsing and saving takes longer than I am now used to. Storing everything in an online cloud also raises another issue….

Security

With the hacking of US cables by WikiLeaks, storing all your files on the cloud could carry a risk. Whilst Google claim to have brilliant antivirus and security capabilities of chrome OS, once someone compromises your cloud account they will have access to a lot of your files and folders, and could cause significant damage (especially to businesses).

Beta Testing

Google has decided to give away many unbranded laptops with chrome OS pre installed to “individuals, businesses, schools, non-profits and developers based in the United States.'' It will be interesting to read about the experiences of these testers and any issues they had, and also how they compare to previous systems that they were using. An account from one of the early testers can be found at the link below: http://uk.lifehacker.com/5713348/six-days-working-entirely-from-chrome-os If you’re in the US, you may signup to the pilot programme here: http://www.google.com/chromeos/pilot-program.html

Advertising

With more and more people relying on Google products, the tracking and advertising re-targeting abilities will only go in one direction. As the Chrome OS platform is going to be free, it would not surprise me if it carries advertising at some point, (possibly not in the beginning until it has made a name for itself). Advertising has been Google’s main money spinner so far, and I would not expect this to change drastically despite the various directions it has been taking recently, such as taking on Amazon in the online book market.

Logging Off Chrome OS

After the relative success of the various versions of Google’s android operating system, I can see Google achieving relative success in the near future for a niche market, mainly small net-books and similar. Chrome OS also sounds like an ideal system for a tablet PC (and it may be that Google has Apple and the iPad in its sights with this recent development). I wouldn’t be surprised if tablet PC’s produced by third party companies began using Chrome OS, especially after Google’s recent partnership with Samsung to create the Nexus S (also after claiming there wouldn’t be a second nexus phone). I cannot see Chrome OS replacing my operating system in the near future, partially as I use my computer as many things other than web browsing, from a media centre to playing games. I can however see it gaining a significant foothold in the operating system market for smaller and more specific web systems, and it is likely to have an impact on the uptake of Linux with such a large name behind the development.