Although I promised myself I wasn’t going to spend time running Google’s Chrome OS right now, I got the bug. Thanks to gdgt who put an image together, I’ve spent about 15 minutes tinkering with it in VirtualBox. Chrome OS is definitely bare-bones right now and slow in a VM, but any performance judgements should be considered irrelevant right now. Two thoughts came to mind as I got my hands dirty: who is this for and what can make it successful.
As far as the first question, Chrome OS is for someone like me — someone who spends 98% of their day in a browser. Or it could be for everyone else, provided they use it in the manner intended. Is it meant to replace a daily operating system for most people? No more so than a netbook would be a replacement for a high-powered workstation. It’s simply not that kind of tool. Chrome OS is intended for quick access to the web on a portable notebook-like companion device. Think of it as the environment and device you’d go to when you don’t want to boot up a full OS but you want a larger screen and keyboard than your smartphone has.
So what can make it successful? There are several factors, but one of the key ones is what makes Firefox so useful — extensions. As Mozilla’s browser has shown, you can do quite a bit in a browser with the right tools. And oddly enough, while Chrome OS doesn’t yet support extensions officially, you’ll see in my video that I have a few installed anyway. That’s my first look and first thoughts. I’ll have plenty more to say as the project matures.
Note: because I couldn’t resize the virtual machine or Chrome OS, I recommend watching this video in full screen and in the HD version when it becomes available.