back to article Google open sources flash-happy Chrome OS

It's a big week for Microsoft. Which means Google has made a point of spotlighting a product designed to undercut its Redmond arch rival. Today, via webcast from its Mountain View headquarters, Google VP of product management Sundar Pichai and Engineering Director Matthew Papakipos unveiled an early version of Chrome OS, the …


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  1. Sentient


    Can it run Modern Warfare 2?

  2. iMlite

    Oh dear NO

    Can it run Modern Warfare 2? -NO

    Been following this announcement

    It’s an operating system for netbooks to allow the netbook to function as a dumb terminal with Google as a server (mainframe)!

    Google are looking ahead to future Netbook , Slate (Tablet), and Smartphone integration into new user gadgets for web browsing and working within the cloud – Google are offering themselves as the Cloud with their OS, through OEM on netbooks, as the route in.


    Murdoch get weaving

  3. Tony Hoyle

    Wait.. what?

    So, at the same time as claiming openness, they're designing a locked down OS that you can't do anything useful on.

    Isn't this what apple tried and had to backtrack on? This 'Google OS' sounds exactly like iphone OS 1.0 without the phone bit.

    As Apple found... Web apps won't cut it. You don't always have a good network connection.

  4. Johnny Canuck

    no internet

    So if you don't have an internet connection you can't use it?

  5. Dave Murray

    No HDD?

    Welcome back to the 80s.

    Someone might want to tell Google that adding hard drives to PCs was a major improvement.

  6. Alex 0.1

    Full circle

    I wonder how many other people note the irony in the fact that MS got slammed for years, to the point of getting taken to various courts and fined untold billions, for tightly integrating a browser into an OS (an OS that can actually do more than just run the browser, too!) yet when Google do the same thing but to a far far greater and infinitely more restrictive extent, it's apparently some revolutionary new way of approaching operating systems...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Peepul, peepul! Peepul!

    It's about a cheap, portable technology allowing hardware to work with cloud wherever you are?

  8. vincent himpe

    needs off-line storage

    so i can work on stuff while on a plane. you can't expect people to be on-line 24/7 in order to use this thing ...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No internet connection

    So when I am out of range of any net connection I will basically own a very expensive, very exclusive place-mat? Brilliant!

    I think Google is envisioning a future where you literally have connectivity anywhere. I don't think that is such an unusual thing to see happening. For most of us who live in cities there is some kind of municipal wifi available as well as unsecured networks and we all know the benefits of cloud computing.

    I see this turning into a kind of liveCD by Google, essentially giving me a limited functionality OS on any machine I need to use it on and accessing all of my personal data on a personalised OS that I am familiar with. Nice idea for sure, swap my fully functioning netbook for a crippled version? Not a chance! But the end user will probably like it.

  10. Campbeltonian

    @Tony Hoyle

    When the iPhone was released, it didn't support HTML 5 and the lack of offline storage crippled the web API. Support didn't come until OS 2.1, a point release after the native SDK.

    If the iPhone was released today (or had supported HTML 5 from the start), there might not have been the same clamour for a native SDK.

  11. Giles Jones Gold badge

    @No HDD

    Many people stream audio and video these days. With Google Office, mail and other tools there's many possibilities for using a computer with little or no storage.

    This is for netbooks, the clue is in the name, netbook = Internet appliance.

  12. Jeremy 2

    Typical Google...

    Typical Google press conference in every way - vastly more questions than answers including a few of the "Eh? What?!" type and no real substance.

    Unstoppable barrage of Googasm stories from the popular media in 3... 2... 1...

  13. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Funny really

    News about a supposedly open source project that you can only view using non-free software.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The sheeple will love it

    The myspace/facebook generation will like it. Me, I like to have my data and apps where I want and under my control.

    Expect MS to "innovate" something like this shortly.

  15. Dave Fox

    What a disappointment!

    No local apps? No thanks!

    I'm well into the Google "scene", running Google Apps for Domains, but I just don't see this being anything past an "InstantOn" type solution for my Vaio P.

    @Tony Hoyle - well, it's open as in open source - hopefully someone will create a version that's a little more worthwhile!

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Wow, just wow

    This looks amazing. And very lightweight. And Linux-based. I think Google are onto something here.

  17. Will 6
    Paris Hilton

    you geeks are all the same

    The point is, best beloved, that they are producing an OS for the great unwashed, not the esteemed over-clocked, penguin loving elreg readers found here.

    Something that suits *most* of the people *most* of the time. The same people who actually do give a fuck what Paris did today.


  18. unimaginative

    The better alternative.

    Of coourse, you could just install Linux plus Chrome on your netbook and be able to do everything this can do, and use old-fashioned software as well.

  19. Andrew Yeomans

    The follow-up device

    Must be a gears-enabled caching proxy, so you *can* work on a plane.

  20. Rich Turner

    @Will 6: Great unwashed?

    Most of the great unwashed don't have access to 24x7x365 wireless internet connectivity.

    What's the point in carrying with you a computer which is only usable when within range of an internet connection to which you are a subscriber/member?

    I think that they should stop whatever they're smoking at Google's campus - the inmates have CLEARLY taken over the asylumn now.

  21. Paul E

    dual booting netbooks?

    One would guess that the netbooks coming up will most likely be dual boot ones with Google's Chrome OS for fast booting and safe websurfing (with no local storage beyond caching, presumably in RAM not much chance of being infected) and win 7 for the times you need more than a browser.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    anyone heard of jolicloud?

    Jolicloud is a similar (mainly) web-based OSdesigned specifically for netbooks with all the offline apps that most of the commenters here are crying about.

  23. Rich Turner

    Oh my ... fail on so many counts

    Now I *NEED* both WTF *and* FAIL icons!!!

    Google have well and truly shown their spots and their depth of character with the announcement of ChromeOS.

    Not only is it now clear that ChromeOS is nothing more than a way for them to get users eyes in front of their ad's so that they can earn more money, but they've also shown how little stomach they truly have to take on Microsoft and provide a credible alternative to Windows.

    For all their bluster and shameless grandstanding, they've revealed themselves to be nothing more than the self-promoting bunch of failmeisters that many of us suspected them of being.

    What I want to know is why, when it is eventually released, it's going to have taken them 2 years to create their own Linux distro'?

  24. Steve John


    Isn't this essentially what Oracle were trying to do 10 or so years ago?

    I personally like having local data and local processing power, but I would - being a software engineer.

    I can actually see this possibly taking off with the MySpace generation though. As long as they can access the websites they like on the device - it'll do.

    Reckon it'd have to run on cheaper hardware than a "full fat" PC/Netbook though, otherwise you'd (read: I'd) buy the general purpose one that could also access the internet.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    For everyone and anyone who comments that you'll require an internet connection to do anything / you can't store anything locally on the machine etc etc etc

    Google Gears. Heard of it? If not just, um, Google it

    They didn't spend a whole load of time making gmail / google docs etc etc work offline using gears for nothing

  26. Stinky

    1980 all over again

    This simplified OS that basically runs one application and sits on an anaemic piece of hardware sounds like DOS running on a Pentium. Next thing you'll tell me is we are going to emulate a VT100 terminal and have no local storage.

  27. dogged

    Oh look....

    It's Sun's "thin client" nonsense all over again.

  28. Thomas Martin

    Business and off-line usefulness

    I cannot say that I would want my confidential data stored on their Google servers, where someone could hack into them and get it. I do not have internet connections many times but yet still can work on my work documents and reports off line. I do not see the point of having to have one OS to work online quickly and another to work off line in the absence of a network.

    Can you REALLY depend on the Google servers being up 100% of the time? And what about companies that are on private networks and which prohibit visitors from being on-line without an act of Parliament? on many accounts. Right now, in business, netbook or not, I do not see the true usefulness.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Silverlight and Flash?

    Will Silverlight and Flash become primary app platforms for this?

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. Don Mitchell


    Yet another network PC. Can Google spin this tired old idea of TIMESHARING better than Orace did?

  32. fyle


    I was all set to give this google OS a go until I read this article. thanks for saving me some time reg

  33. Jeremy 2

    Offline storage

    The Beeb are reporting (amongst the predicted Googasm) that it does support offline storage in the form of SSDs and that "documents and files created on the computer were automatically synced and saved on Google's servers", so which is it? Offline storage or not?

  34. That Awful Puppy
    Jobs Halo

    So, it's just like every other consumer Linux, then?

    Bloody useless, I mean.

    (St. Jobs for he doth bringeth me great joy with his mobile offerings.)

  35. Pawel 1

    @Will Godfrey

    get vlc. Be happy.

  36. criscros

    "some" offline storage

    I think it only has drivers for SSDs, so it can only boot from flash. That's pretty normal since it's initially aimed at netbooks.

    As I understand it, it doesn't allow explicit offline storage. You can still use some webapps offline Gears-style, but all the magic happens in the cloud.

    Anyway, think big, people! Google are aiming this at businesses rather than at home users -- they're betting they can sell bulk at cloud-happy companies who look to cut costs, while cutting Microsoft out of the equation. That's a sensible plan, anyway.

  37. Adam Foxton

    @Jeremy 2

    Read your own quotes.

    You'll create documents and they'll be cached locally, then synced with the Google Servers. When a new Gmail message comes in it'll be on Google's servers and then get cached locally.

    You'll undoubtedly be able to choose what gets cached and what doesn't.

    @ Will Godfrey

    What are you talking about? I can't see anything that even needs software outside the browser... if you need to pay to get Windows to get the right version of Flash for youtube then you can always download the video and watch it on VLC.

    @All, especially doubters

    This sounds like it'd be a good idea. You can keep your kids or other users locked down and pretty malware safe- with a cut-down OS there's far less scope for security problems. And for someone like, say, my mum it'd be perfect. Google Docs to let her type stuff, the spreadsheet thing for her spreadsheets, gmail integration, internet for research- it'll do anything she needs. Add one 3G dongle or a bluetooth link to her phone and she'll never have a problem.

    If this can run on seriously cut-down hardware- say a phone-esque ARM chipset and a big touchscreen- then it could be a very convenient thing to have around the house. The ARM chipset would mean huge battery life compared to a "regular" laptop, the (presumably) lower cost would mean it'd be more available than an iTablet (whenever it comes out). Plus it's from Google so it's got enough positive brand-image and brand-awareness that, combined with the lower price, it could help chip away at Apple's market. It could even have a better shot at the corporate market if they're already using google's commercial offerings.

    And with the likes of StreamMyGame, if they eventually make a Google Chrome OS compatible client, yes will technically allow you to play Modern Warfare. But you'll need a "proper" machine to actually run the game. If Google Chrome OS takes off you'll probably find internet-based computers where you can run the latest games on their servers and just watch/control from yours. Pay a low monthly fee or put up with 320x200, a 30-minute session time, a delay before game start, and loads of ads for free.

    So I predict that this, if managed properly, could become the next very big thing. MS won't fade away, but Apple's growth will slow and possibly recede. Linux will grow slightly as people mod their Google Chrome OS devices.

    Or they could make a complete hash of it and it'll fall by the roadside to be "lol"ed at.

  38. wsm

    Cloud terminal

    Chrome OS has an emphasis on the "terminal" aspects of a device without a network: it's dead without a broadband connection. Even the Gears angle and the local caching won't help this thing work any better than an iPhone with bigger apps.

  39. Greg J Preece

    I already have a more advanced system

    No, seriously, check this out:

    Step 1: Install Ubuntu

    Step 2: Install Chrome


  40. Tel

    Waste of time

    I like Google's web services but this will never catch on beyond the occasional nerd who just buys it because it's there.

    If my broadband connection goes down I can, at least, still use my computer for other stuff (games, programming, writing, accounts, etc). With this sort of online-only browser-based 'OS' you're stuffed the moment the net connection goes away. It'd be about as much use as a doorstop.

    To all intents and purposes, Google are reinventing the dumb terminal that runs Windows 1 (yes, 'one') with a slightly updated interface.

    I ain't going anywhere near it.

  41. John Sanders

    A browser based os...


    "when Google do the same thing but to a far far greater and infinitely more restrictive extent, it's apparently some revolutionary new way of approaching operating systems..."

    No my friend, it is not revolutionary it is a piece of useless shit no matter how you look at it.

  42. Chimpofdoom!


    I'd rather use Moblin on my netbook..

    Oh wait, I do!

  43. Chris Beach


    There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding around this. I'd watch some of the youtube videos. There will be 'apps' like a music player...but the apps will work with data on the internet, so 90% of the music played will be streamed (aka spotify and You can get pictures off your camera so that you can upload them to the cloud, not run photoshop and organize locally.

  44. Cameron Colley

    Swapping one problem for another.

    As has already been proven "The Cloud" can and will fail, just like local hard drives and web applications will be compromised. So, in essence, you're swapping user-controlled compromised and unstable data for Google-controlled compromised unstable data. I'll stick with the failure-prone and buggy systems I control thanks.

  45. Anonymous Coward

    It'll never last

    We still don't have the capacity for this sort of always-connected computer use. Many people currently using netbooks access the web with pay-as-you-go 3G dongles or other accounts with bandwidth limits, and I doubt they're going to want to use a system that relies on storing all your data online and burns through your allowance in days. And that's without mentioning the speed/coverage of O2 3G, the limited availability or speed of much public Wifi, etc.

    Also, as mentioned, there is a need for local applications. It doesn't seem clear whether it'll let you play MP3s or video locally. Maybe it'll have a local application that lets you play a few audio formats in a tied-down built-in audio player, but that's no substitute for Linux or Windows which can install unlimited codecs and different media players. People will also want to connect digital cameras etc which will require drivers running on the computer. Businesses may want to install applications for data security, account management, etc on the netbook.

    It's instructive that the iPhone was originally supposed to support browser applications only, but Apple gave up on that, and Android was meant to run everything in a virtual machine, but Google gave up on that and allowed native-code applications. So chances are they'll end up opening the platform to third-party developers (even if said developers don't hack it themselves).

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