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It was more than a year ago, since Google announced Chrome OS and presented its concept about the future of the netbooks. Following the Nexus S announcement on Monday, Google held another event yesterday – showcasing the latest in Chrome OS development.

Google is starting its Pilot program and its participants will receive the first Chrome-running netbook – Cr-48. It has no Fn keys, no Caps Lock, no optical drive and no spinning hard-drive either. But you get 12-inch netbook with Wi-Fi, 3G, an oversized touchpad and a webcam. The Chrome OS boots about 10 seconds on the Cr-48 and resumes from sleep state instantly.
The Cr-48 promises excellent battery life – 8 hours of work or 7 days in standby mode. Unfortunately, the Cr-48 netbook will be available only to the participants in the Pilot program and no one else.

There is also one more thing to know about the future Chrome-running netbooks – they won’t be able to dual-boot with Windows OS. I suppose either the flash storage won’t be enough to host another OS or there will be some explicit restriction.

Another thing that is left out is the Caps Lock key. There will be a dedicated Search shortcut instead. I don’t mind that, but I’m sure lots of users will do. Google claims it’s doing this to improve the comments’ quality, but I believe nothing will fix the behavior of some commenters.

Samsung and Acer have confirmed that their Chrome netbooks will be released in summer 2011 – those will be for mass consumption unlike the Google’s Cr-48.
And now let’s see what to expect from the Chrome OS.

What is Chrome OS?

First of all the Chrome OS is completely cloud-based operating system that works within a (Chrome) browser. You can run it on any Windows or Mac computer or use it on a dedicated netbook (such as the Cr-48). The Chrome OS is the Google vision for the future of always-connected netbooks.

Chrome OS

So basically if you want an ultra-cheap, but capable netbook – a Chrome-based one should be your choice. In any other case you can run the Chrome OS within your browser, so no one could criticize Google about requirements, policy, etc.


When the Chrome OS starts you must log in with your profile. It’s not stored locally, but in the cloud, so it doesn’t matter where you are logging in. That way you have access to your stuff no matter the computer you’re using. If you’re using a Chrome-based netbook, you can make guest accounts that will store no personal data after the guest user logs out.

The Chrome OS login screen

Apps and Store

You can get apps for the Chrome OS from the dedicated Chrome Web Store, which has already gone live. Its UI reminds me of the iTunes Store, but the apps you choose run directly from the Web Store. You click on the app of your choice and you have it instantly. Every app runs in a separate browser tab, but there is full screen mode too, so you won’t lose the line between the browser and the apps that much.

Despite the fact the apps also run on the cloud servers, they still use the processing power of your machine and take advantage of both CPU and GPU. This means that the Chrome OS is still capable of running some heavier applications such as office, image editing/processing or even some 3D games.


Google has worked closely with Citrix to bring a service for easy deployment of desktop applications. The result of that collaboration is the Citrix Receiver. Thanks to that application, it’s now possible to deploy desktop applications such as Microsoft Word or Excel on Chrome OS.

The performance on Chrome OS is a key feature and Google has tried to make the core systems lightning fast. Chrome OS boots on a dedicated netbook for less than 10 seconds, while the resume process is instant.
Because everything is web-based, your computer won’t be filled with files and won’t need to use so much processing speed for the apps. Also the installation and the update processes are extremely easy – you install an app with just one click, while the updates are automatic and you won’t even notice them. Google also promises regular updates, which will be always focused on performance.


Chrome OS (and Chrome browser) will support cloud printing too. This service allows you to print on any printer connected to any computer in the world, it just needs to be registered on the Google Cloud Print. The service is already available for the Chrome web browser, but you’ll need to get Chrome 9 beta to use it.

Let’s see some action

Most of the available apps in the Web Store are just links to popular web apps, but there are a few that are actually dedicated Chrome OS apps and work only under Chrome OS. They look excellent thanks to the new web tech such as HTML5 and deserve a proper attention.

Aviary is an image editor and yes, it runs within your web browser. It has most of the functionality an average user needs and it does really well.

SlideRocket is like Power Point – you can make beautiful presentations and even add various multimedia to them.

TweetDeck is an awesome social networking client exclusive to Chrome OS. Just watch the video.

Well, that covers pretty much everything new. The Chrome OS is still in development but it’s nice to see they’re getting there. Since the first netbooks are scheduled for mid-2011 release, I guess the Chrome OS will launch some time before them. I’m sure there will be an opened beta test after a few months.

[Source 1], [Source 2], [Source 3], [Source 4]


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