back to article Google Chrome OS - do we want another monoculture?

Yes, Google has open-sourced Chrome OS, its much-discussed browser-based operating system. But as usual, the open sourcing only says so much about its openness. After all, this isn't something you can load on any PC. And it's not much of an operating system. You can't load local applications - not even one. As part of its …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    And what does this give us that we don't have already?

    If you want familiarity, go Microsoft

    If you want status, go Apple

    If you want the best, go Linux -

    We already have more than enough choice.

  2. Billz

    Chrome vs Android

    Back in July, Google made the distinction that Chrome OS would also be for desktops & net-books - whereas Android was for handheld, phones and net-books.

    But today we hear its basically just for net-books - and only ones with SSD/Flash...!

    It seems even stranger to continue to have both OS offerings.

  3. Julia Smith

    XServer By Any Other Name

    MainFrame redux.

  4. criscros


    Please don't forget that Google's greatest asset is its brand. They understand the "free" business model, and know that as long as they can keep their users happy they can depend on their loyalty (a business model that is a stark contrast to Apple's and Microsoft's, if you think about it).

    I think the comparison to Apple is unfounded. Google will keep their webapps under control, of course, but don't care about the OS itself. The hardware support is limited, but the reasons for that should be clear: it's a Linux OS and can't install extra drivers.

    I'm not the greatest fan of "the cloud" but think only good things can come from more players entering the OS market. If the competition can chip away even 35% of the reigning monopoly things may start to improve -- think OS wars instead of just browser wars. The consumer can reap the benefits of these giants fighting it out: better prices, faster software, better quality...

  5. Igor Sfiligoi

    It actually makes sense, after some thought

    My first thought when I started reading was:

    "Why the heck would I want something like this??????????"

    And indeed, I probably never will.

    But then I though of my mom;

    All she needs is a way to browse the web, access her web mail (which happens to be gmail) and look at some photos.

    So ChromeOS provides all that she needs... without all the the "crapware" provided with the OS (and I already switched her to Linux).

    So for her is the ideal solution... it will likely be much safer than it is now, and probably faster, too.

    Of course, I need to see what hardware will support it and what will be the pricing, but the idea has indeed a lot of merit!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thin clients don't fly

    Even Larry Ellison got handed his ass on that one.

    So how about local-config stuff like printer drivers? My Grandma could use it, but she sure wants to print her pics & emails. And she doesn't want a tiny netbook.

    I don't see hardware manufacturers hurrying to write drivers for ChromeOS any more than they do for Linux. Are they going to specify printers and mice too? If they specify an Epson printer, I can sure as hell see HP & Lexmark suing.

    Anyone I can think of that knows what a netbook is and wants one, is too techie to want this. They'd want their own local apps.

  7. Bob 18
    Thumb Down

    Won't succeed in the market

    The very first netbooks ran regular old Linux --- an OS that for most end users functions equivalently to Chrome OS in that it lets you browse the web. This initial head start was soon eclipsed by WIndows XP.

    Why? Because if you're going to drop even $300 on a computer, you want it to be as capable as possible. The fact that Chrome OS doesn't allow installation of apps is NOT a selling point. Users who don't want to install apps on any computer can simply not install apps.

    Netbooks are NOT "small, low-power" computers. In reality, they're as beefy as the regular laptops we used just a few years ago. They're sufficient for all common tasks --- except maybe running JavaScript apps, which is an incredible hog compared to native apps. People are buying them because they're cheap, and they're quite powerful enough for day-to-day tasks, INCLUDING running local apps.

    "Network appliance" computers have been tried on the market time and time again. And they have always failed. Google is the wealthiest and most powerful company yet to try the concept; but I doubt that even they will succeed in selling it to the public.

  8. Trevor Pott o_O Gold badge

    Local devices

    Chrome doesn't support local devices. Can't talk to your printer, etc. etc.

    But it's limited to netbooks.


    I wonder if I could plug that printer into a modern broadband router and have it provide printing services to the netbook in some form of universal standard.


    Crap. Now this thing might just be viable.

  9. Neoc


    First of all, the Chrome browser is the GUI, *not* the OS - regardless of what MS tries to tell you in its brainwash- er, marketing sessions.

    Second of all, after reading this article, I ended up with the distinct impression that Chrome OS was the bastard child of MS and Apple :- MS's browser+OS tie-in and Apple's "you can only buy/run our stuff" attitude.

    Time to hoard my XP licences and Ubuntu install CDs. I have a feeling I'll be needing them in the long run.

  10. Moshe 1

    Why everybody says that Chrome doesn't run Silverlight?

    I'm using Chrome to watch NetFlix, and yeah, it shows movies with silverlight applet!

  11. jim 45
    Thumb Up

    7 seconds

    They're already demoing a build that boots in 7 seconds. DO YOU HEAR ME PEOPLE? 7 SECONDS!

    I am s-o-o-o-o-o-o-o tired of waiting for XP to boot to boot - and by boot, I mean become usable - on my ASUS 900 netbook.


  12. GrantB

    Device drivers

    Interesting thing that kills pretty much any OS from competing with Windows is drivers.

    There has to be an assumption that a nice new netbook/tablet running ChromeOS will just work automagically with your camera/printer/iPod/3G card etc plugged into the USB ports.

    It is getting easier these days with a few more standards in place for things like cameras (pictbridge?), but printers at least could be interesting.

    A true online OS could do some funky steps though; you hit print on a webpage, the request gets sent to Google HQ along with the ID of the connected printer. They can then run the job through a Windows printer driver (this is Google - they could have 100,000 VM's representing 99% of the worlds most common printers), capture the data sent to the USB port on the VM, compress it and stream it back out to the printer device. End result is that you device has no printer driver but can talk to any printer that is attached that Google knows about... and Google advertisers get to pop up suggestions that if you are printing those photos, you might want to consider this online printing service that does 6x4 glossies for $..

    Oh and on the issue of:

    "ultimate irony is that after years of criticizing Microsoft for bundling its OS with its browser, Google has nearly made them one and the same"

    Well, no, Google quite fairly criticised MS for bundling a hideous, slow, non-standard based browser to try and kill the (Netscape) competition and slow the progress of webapps which threatened (and still do threaten) the Microsoft platform. I notice in the screenshot that they had Hotmail listed, so they don't mind competing on webservers.. but if they subsidise the purchase cost (like the cellphone model) then they will want a fair bit of control.

  13. Samir

    google chrome os is ubuntu based

    This news is hot and fresh… Hold on to you pants people. We just got an update that Chrome OS is based on UBUNTU Karmic Koala.

    You can see and even look at the Source code of the upcoming Google Chrome OS here.

    I am Calling it GooBuntu

  14. frymaster

    7 second boot

    7 second boot is easy if you have strict control over hardware (don't have to detect a bajillion different possible devices), run it off an SSD, and only want to run a browser instead of being a general-purpose OS

  15. Zack Mollusc

    Orwellian web apps.

    Hmm. Is this a different sort of Orwellian story?

    Mainframe bad, desktop PC good.

    Time passes....

    Desktop PC good, web apps better!

    I have yet to work out who plays Boxer,Snowball, Napoleon, Squealer etc.

  16. Keith Oldham

    So useless for travellers (or expensive)

    So no internet access = no computer. One major use for netbooks is as a small, light device for travelling. So can't listen to music or watch videos or write emails ...... without a connection.

    I'll stick with eebuntu on my 901 which is perfect for travelling.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    7 second boot

    Who gives a toss, if you can't do much once it's booted?

  18. M7S

    I'm out

    I'd hoped that Chrome would be an OS that is friendlier to non-techie users than Linux, and would go on my older PCs (not XP capable for example) so that I could use them eventually as iPlayer boxes connected to a TV or for simple domestic computing.

    I'm outside a UK city so decent broadband is something that we see in the distant future (or not) as we boil our turnips, so even if I had the hardware required, it would be no good for me.

    Guess I'll have to stick with MS then and endure the scorn of the rest of the IT crowd.

  19. mmiied

    not what I need

    I use my netbook on the train and car and on a boat where I have no net connections and where there is no space for my laptop or in situations where I need to carry it one handed round the building (config tests) in these situations I need local apps and 3rd party config apps

    I am not realy sure who this is amied at

    in responce to pepol

    I use my eee 901 for open office typing and playign old games so far I can run open transport tycoon total anilation and x-com apoiclpes with out any problem

    my eee 901 starts very quickley mainley cos it has a ssd and very big battry so it usuley stays in suspend mode and "starts2 in under 10 sec

  20. Dexter
    Thumb Down

    7 second boot

    Is very slow for a solid state based device.

    My old Atari ST used to boot in a couple of seconds, and that was 20+ years ago.

  21. Pheet

    Not for the likes of us...

    But there's a large percentage of the population that don't need a fully fledged PC (with it's attendant virii, hardware compatibility issues, DLL hell, etc). They just need a browser where they can access webmail, youtube, and facespace. A consumer device, rather than a tool.

    I think Google has at least identified a valid market for this. I also think that limiting the supported hardware (ala Apple) is actually a smart thing to do for new platform. Lack of, or flaky, device drivers being the bane of both WIndows and *nix systems.

    There is a definite shift to SaaS. How many people are using Basecamp for example?

    It's of little interest (without hacks) to us IT geeks.

  22. Anonymous Coward


    I don't trust an advertising company that uses what it knows about me to sell me things it thinks i want to run my computer.

    I'd rather pay for an AdWare free computing experience from a dedicated vendor or continue using a community centric UNIX project.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Speaks for itself...

    Well, that will make sure I don't waste my time with this product then!

  24. Jeremy Chappell


    I think talk of a new monoculture is somewhat premature. Google don't even WANT to create this. Imagine if you "kill the PC" - where do Google get the next generation from? Google's developers were "trained" on the PC, kill that and you raise the bar for programmers considerably. Sure, we could "program in the cloud" but after the "old guys" are gone, who looks after the cloud?

    No Google doesn't want to do this, it's not even in their interest. Chrome OS makes sense for a certain audience, maybe for most people some of the time, but not everyone all of the time. Google won't want this.

    So, why Chrome OS? Well it does give reliable, incorruptible, Internet (well Web) access - that's in Google's interest, especially if it shifts your focus further toward the cloud. Additionally, if you data is on Google's servers then mining that data to give you better ads is possible. Google want to give you "better ads".

    So is there a compromise here? Yes, you're handing more power to Google, and trusting them to "not be evil", can they live up to this? I don't know - could anyone? But Chrome OS is probably going to be very useful, not least with internally hosted Web applications - there's nothing in here that ties the system to Google. Looks like a "dumb terminal" for 2010 - and actually that's probably going to be pretty useful.

  25. Magnus Ramage


    I agree about travelling, out of reach of Net connections, being an issue with this idea. But isn't that the point of Google Gears (built into Chrome), to allow you to use online apps when you're offline? Not yet tried it myself so can't say how well it works.

  26. Matthew 17

    for 99% of computer users

    This is exactly what they want.

    They just want to connect to the web and dick around with their photos & music. They want it to be completely non-technical and idiot proof.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Why ?

    So it's basically just a dumb terminal. The question is, unless it's about 50 quid, why on earth bother when for not that much more of an outlay you can get something exponentially more functional, ie. a simple netbook ? I honestly can't see it appealing to many.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Call me Old Skool but......

    I use Google as anyone else does (or has to today), but other than the search engine my interests stop at Picasa and Gmail. Chrome (the browser) isn't all bad but the users seem to be adopting the arrogance of circa 1995 Linux users.

    I really don't know what use I'd have for Chrome the OS, my Netbook is just fine with Windows XP and when it's finally dead I'll use Linux. And I can load my own programs on it. And I can save my files on it. And if I don't have an Internet connection I can still use it for something.

    If the goal is to keep people only using it for web apps, really why bother? Just go back to the olden days and make a web portal with all your apps and junk there to use. That way you don't have to support an OS and anyone can use it.

    And while we're at it, can someone out there PLEASE make an alternative OS that isn't yet another Linux clone? I still remember the high hopes out there for Be, and even the Mac Classic OS was something different. Now we have an endless stream of Franken Distros that are someone's "improvements" on Linux. Just condense all the effort into 3 or 4 distros, not 400, otherwise it's just some cruel version of the Monty Python spam skit.

  29. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

    Ah, it's started....

    I love the way I can come to El Reg and have a panel of experts explain to me why any idea or product is doomed to failure, without them ever having had their hands on it.

    How about we wait and see, people? For one thing, what about price? With lightweight reference hardware and a free OS, you could end up with netbooks costing £50-100. Still so sure they'll tank?


  30. TeeCee Gold badge

    This'll be interesting

    "And you certainly can't use a third party browser."

    The countdown to a fulminant diatribe from Hakan Lie starts now.

    If ChromeOS takes off, it'll also be interesting to find out whether the industry really is a level playing field or not and, if it is, just how much Google get fined by the EU and how many artificial internal divisions are forced on them by the yanks.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "start" button

    Did anyone else notice the irony of the chrome OS "start" button? Google have ended up morphing the colours on their logo into a windows start button. It's funny how these companies bitch about each other but in the end they just emulate each other. To me, the chrome os will flop - apple lost massive share to IBM PC compat's by restricting hardware and the same thing will happen to Google. Webapps may be all the rage at the moment but what about "the-next-big-thing" in 10-15 years we could have another paradigm bigger than the web that we just can't foresee today.

  32. Mage Silver badge


    It's just a Graphics Terminal

    Understands HTML instead of VT100 commands.

    Anyone that Promotes this or "buys into" this 1960s view of computing is a fool.

    It's not a Computer as we know it Jim. Like Android, the "Open Sauciness" will seduce some people, but like Android it's about Google Control, not Freedom.

    I don't want iPhone, Andriod or Chrome. EVER. Windows XP is more useful and open than those. Fedora, Unbuntu, Moblin, Maemo are the real Open Source Distros for Phones, Netbooks and PCs.

    Mine's the one With Symbian, WindowsCE/Mobile, Moblin, Maemo and Unbuntu Source in the pockets.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Comparisons with PC's

    what's all the harping on about not being able to install drivers and replacing the OS etc? I can't do that with my phone. I just want it to work and do my bidding very quickly. I want reasonable battery life measured in days (if not talking surfing) not hours.

    I think Google could be onto something with this, if they get the offline data storage model right. No HDs is fine with me if the SSD is big enough.

    I didn't read it anywhere, but I'm assuming there will be a SQLite engine included like I believe is in Gears.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    In answer to my own post

    A quick scan of the source tree reveals sqlite and interestingly httpd

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Wahoo...more cloud shite.... is a few words of warning to those who think the cloud is your saviour.


    Lycos Mail

    Launchcast plus

    BMG Music

    Microsoft Money Plus

    Google Video

    Google Notebook

    Google Dodgeball

    Google Jaiko

    and on and on...

    All these services "in the cloud" ie. on the internet, that get discontinued when they make no money, the users get bored, or the delevopers just simply can't be arsed.

    So you learn and invest a few years in a app, all your services are running great and then the

    "This service will be discontiuned in 6 months. Tough shit, your on your own.Good luck"

    People are still using XP, it's been around longer than many of the services listed, it's discontinued, but hey, if you want to carry on using, feel free. How many 10's of thousands of machines are still running NT4, 98, Win2000 hell, bet there are even some OS2/Warps out there.

    With the "cloud", when they decide your are going to upgrade, tough shit, you are going to upgrade and bad luck if it trashes anything you use it with.

    MY PC, MY hardware, MY Software. I decide when I stop using it.

    Still people will still buy these as it will be hyped to hell by the mainstream press.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Unable to reach Google Mail

    Well I've been staring at the "Unable to reach Google Mail" message for the last two hours ... welcome to the Cloud.

    I didn't like X Windows thin clients in the 1980's - I don't like their re-invention as Chrome OS now.

    Chrome is a cosmetic plating which accelerates rusting when scratched ... seems appropriate.

  37. TeeCee Gold badge

    Re: 7 seconds.

    I reckon you can boot XP in 7 seconds if you turn off everything bar what's strictly necessary to run a browser and put it on a native PCIe attached SSD (like an OCZ "Z-drive") rather than a SATA disk.

    Presumably this is why ChromeOS doesn't do conventional HDDs. It's easy to win when you're comparing your pears to everyone else's apples.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Needs and wants.

    "But we really focus on user needs"

    OK. So where's my flying spaceship-car and talking intelligent computer?

    I can have another thin-client with lots of apps I'll hardly ever use, you say?

    Hmm. Maybe you should go focus on those user needs* a bit more.

    * and, btw, we all know they're not 'needs', they're 'wants'. You can live without Google Chrome. You can't live without food. If you're not able to identify what's a need and what's a want and have the chutzpa to do that in public, in a really real press release then aren't you just another advertising executive trying to get us to buy into your dream of 'how the world should be' (where 'how the world should be' = a world where lots of cash flows towards you and allows you to buy all those things you 'need')?

    And doesn't that rather go against your statement about not thinking about "strategies relative to other companies and what not" seeing as those companies will also be competing to provide for those wants, oops sorry, 'needs' and could therefore prevent that cash from flowing towards you?

  39. SkippyBing

    7 Seconds

    Boot time is only important if you don't have the mental capacity to do something else while your computer turns on...

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do we want another monoculture?

    We want another something, that's all. We're living with a monopoly at the moment and that's the only reason we keep having these farcical debates. With the cloud becoming more and more prevalent, the OS is no longer a differentiator. Hopefully this is the first step towards a competitive market which will drive prices down and foster some genuine innovation.

  41. Adam T


    Where's everyone's sense of adventure?

    I think it's pretty neat - and the only reason thin clients (for consumers) haven't gone anywhere is because nobody has put their money where their mouth is. Don't say someone has, because until my Victorian Dad asks me about it, it hasn't happened (he asked me about Chrome OS this morning, so it's seeping through).

    As for Linux, try saying the words "log in a root" to Victorian Dad and you get to see a facial expression of genuine F.U.D.

    Just because we - the tech savvy, with our pious attitudes towards technical culture - smirk at simple solutions, doesn't mean Victorian Dads (and perhaps 3rd World kids) all over the globe will be smirking too.

  42. SlabMan

    Bye bye usability

    Desktop OSes at least enforce some kind of consistency in application behaviour and interface. This is being posited as for neophyte users, yet their primary app will be that usability nightmare, GMail.

    There are web apps with usable interfaces. Just none from Google.

    All that money, and no taste.

  43. Trygve

    version 1.0

    Currently it looks pretty damn pared-down, but it may interest enough people to keep it viable and develop into something useful. Windows 1.0 and 2.0 were by all accounts pretty rubbish and look what they led to.

    I've never really played with any of this Chrome stuff but wouldn't Gears allow them to cobble together some limited offline functionality?

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    When it was first announced I was excited by the prospect of this fast new Linux distro. Now that I know it's literally only going to run a web browser (Google's web browser) tied to specific Google certified hardware... well that's just crap.

    I don't want that at all. If I did I could do it myself with my preferred browser. Even then I'd want a few choice apps to be installed as well.

    All Chrome OS offers is limitations. Who cares if their PC boots quickly if it can't do anything other than use crappy web applications? Google Docs? No thanks I'll write my documents in the privacy of local software. Which of course horrifies Google as that would stop them scanning everything I type in order to more efficiently spam the crap out of me.

  45. Dunstan Vavasour
    Thumb Up

    @Igor Sfiligoi

    Your thoughts mirror mine. My mum and dad have a PC running XP which they use primarily for email and browsing, some simple document writing, and playing simple games (puzzles). They buy a service from a local company who supplied the machine and broadband package, and some server side services (email, with outlook configured to their server).

    There is a huge body of people who don't want to have a computer, they want to have an internet appliance with some basic apps. They don't care if those apps are server-side or client-side (and wouldn't understand the difference). My parish priest wants to pick up email and print his sermons.

    We have had many false starts in this space. What Google can bring is the deep pockets, the brand and the ready availability of server-side applications. ChromeOS clearly isn't ready. But for a conceptual "release early", the direction they are following has a huge potential market of people who don't read el Reg. I look forward to watching ChromeOS mature into the long awaited webtone appliance.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And how will they get this to the masses?

    The reason linux isn't everywhere today, despite the annual "this is the year of linux" clarion call, is that the likes of PCWorld, Comet et al. can't support them and therefore don't push them. And there's no middleman cut for free software.

    @Trevor Pott ref local devices - sounds just like something Grandma could do. Not.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Windows 7

    Windows 7 is the way forward.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    It's for Real People, not you lot

    I can understand people on a "tech board" not "getting" this, because none of you spend time finding out what computing life is like for "normal users" (apart from saying "duhh, Dad, press Ctrl+Backspace and then set a System Restore point, I mean, duhhhh!" etc.)

    Google are trying to make a platform which removes all of the annoyances and pitfalls that make computer life so godawful for normal people.

    None of these annoyances and pitfalls trouble you lot, so you don't really understand.

    Meantime, normal people spend their lives screaming at their computers because of endless unintelligible messages and situations, which (not that they understand this) are caused by random software doing whatever the hell it likes, endless software conflicts, software fighting to take over various roles on your computer, endless system updates, bad things happening just because you clicked a seemingly reasonable link, Et-Bloody-Cetera, Times By A Hundred.

    (My sister rang last night: her PC has slowed to an unusable crawl. I think I've worked it out - I think it's some techobollocks like "AVG9 has re-enabled link scanning" - but how exactly she could ever have worked that out herself, worked out why her £500 PC is suddenly completely, totally useless, perhaps you could enlighten me?)

    (See? To you, it's "tiny issue, trivial fix"; to her, and the rest of the 90% of normal users, it's "PC unfixably broken".)

    Google want to make a platform that does what normal people want to do, an order of magnitude more simply, intelligibly and securely than current platforms.

    If they achieve that, then you guys will come to realise that you're actually just part of the 10% of technologically-savvy dweebs, and you've spent decades selling the population computing devices that are totally unfit for their needs and knowledge (but fine for you).

    Hopefully, then, you'll get on board the revolution too.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    "but like Android it's about Google Control, not Freedom." Bullshit. I can break my android based htc hero with a shedload of 3rd party apps.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missing the Point

    I think that most people are missing the point, Google are probably not targeting Chrome OS at the consumer market although like most Google developments this will be where the Beta testing takes place.

    Google for a number of years now, have been getting very close to Governments and Big Business this is surely the target for Chrome OS. It you take just the UK government (inc local government) there is a huge pot probably close to 1,000,000 pc's. The latest DWP desktop tender was £3 billion for 6 years desktop services, one UK gov department has close to 100,000 desktop / laptops each changed every 3 - 4 years.

    Given a web based / low cost / low carbon impact / secure (data held centrally) / low management device priced per user per month from a well respected Brand, which government director would not sign on the dotted line especially if the data was held in a secure Government Clould managed by Google?

  51. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


    @Julia Smith: Xserver and Mainframes? Tradditional IBM mainframes (running MVS, IMS, CMS, TSO etc) either never understood X, or were slow to adopt it (OpenMVS, which became z/OS, has/had a POSIX compatibility layer that added X Clients) but it is clearly nonsensical to have an X Server running on a Mainframe. IBM mainframe graphics either used channel attached workstations (often running AIX and proprietary channel-based communications) for high performance work, or 3278 graphics terminals for business type graphics.

    Can't really talk about other vendors mainframe offerings, because I never had any real exposure to them.

    @Mage : Understand what you are saying, but being a bit picky, I would like to point out that vt100's were not graphics capable terminals (unless you include the box-characters in the advanced video option). In the vt1XX line, you would be using a vt131 or vt132 for graphics, and the followups were the vt240 and vt241, (this last being a colour terminal!) The standard they used was a propriety ANSI-extension that was called ReGiS (capitalization may be wrong) that was proposed as a standard, but fell by the way-side.

    Still, I would have thought that using a browser based rendering engine will never be really efficient unless it grows into a full blown fully functional 3D rendering device (like OpenGL or possibly DirectX (spit)). In which case, you would have re-invented the thin client again, without it being all that thin.

    The difference in cost of a fully functional computer (with disk-like storage and all) and a thin client will never be high enough to justify their deployment. Desktop computers, Netbooks, and Phones will probably merge together, all with SSD based filesystems, input, and display devices, and a real, fully functional OS under the covers. Something like Chrome will end up being effectively a presentation or compatibility layer sitting on top of the OS, but the OS will be there, and will probably be Linux based for everybody other than Microsoft (and Apple if you draw a distinction between GNU/Mach and GNU/Linux).

  52. HFoster
    Black Helicopters


    Everything a Chrome user does will be on the Google cloud.

    What will Mountain View do with this information?

    Thanks, guys, but no thanks!

  53. John Taylor 1
    Thumb Up

    good...i think...

    hmmm ok i think I like google chrome os idea....if its associated with a nice cheap little device say < £100 then id buy it no problem...

    It's just enough operating system to run a browser, a display screen and a wireless network card and thats it really, i can live with that if it's a gadget...hell my dear old mum could live with that easily...

    I could see these devices selling if the are nice cheap little netbooks (< £100) for just surfing the net...sure its not a full blown os but it's running a device thats meant for a single purpose, google chrome os devices surf the net, a cd player plays cd's...

    devices based around google chrome os are not meant to be multipurpose devices that can write cd's, print etc...

  54. Anonymous Coward

    shotgun, meet foot........

    "We really want software to understand the underlying hardware so we can make it much faster and more secure. It's an important part of what we're trying to do,"

    Hmmmm, Someones being sucking at the teet of Jobsian economics ;-) Next thing you know they'll be some distribution deals and they will be selling "Google-branded" PC's at inflated costs..... sound familiar?

    "This is exactly what they want.

    They just want to connect to the web and dick around with their photos & music. They want it to be completely non-technical and idiot proof."

    Trouble is, they also want to dick around with photos and music once their crappy £25 freebie ISP router dies / needs rebooting.

  55. Mage Silver badge

    @Anonymous Coward Posted Friday 20th November 2009 11:05 GMT

    1) Most people can't jailbreak their iPhone/Android properly

    2) Some things are broken when you do

    3) You shouldn't have too. Even MS and Nokia lets you install paid or Open Source on WinCE/Mobile, Symbian (S60), Maemo, Win9x, NT/XP/Vista.

    Thin terminals are a fail and probably always will be except for niche markets:

    a) Cyber cafe

    b) Call Center (LAN, with own Web Server)

    You are not limited to cloud however. You can have your own LAMP / IIS/MS-SQL/Sharepoint or even WAMP (I have IIS, MS-SQL and Apache/MySQL/PHP on a Win2K server) running under the stairs or in attic or the Corporate IT room.

    It would need to have off-line video/audio/eBook etc to compete with iTouch, iRiver, Archos Tablets and regular Netbooks.

    Maybe not entirely a fail, but definitely niche.

    XP on EIGHT year old PC, never re-installed:

    Cold Boot < 50 sec

    Resume from Standby < 6s

    XP on 2 year old Acer Laptop

    Cold boot < 16 sec

    Linux on Archos 605WiFi (160Gbyte HDD, Full Opera Browser, 800x480 touch screen) ARM CPU.

    Resume from Standy < 1s (Can be in standby over a week at least with no charging)

    Coldboot < 25 s

    7 sec may or may not be impressive depending on CPU, if partial standby etc etc...

    Not significant feature when there are "instant on" Internet Tablets already on the market.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I concur with Missing the Point (11:06 GMT)

    mostly because this is a new technology aimed at diverse audience using new user hardware (ie new hardware to new user).

    The previously mentioned appeal to large organisations needing to access information securely yet on a mobile basis could use an insecure laptop (or top up a wee bit to increase the probability of locating a missing or misplaced laptop) OR a secure netbook.

    It also has appeal (or so I'd posit) towards naive users. People that want to use computers for the content rather than swishness, complexity, synergy, ecology and ecosystem(s) of application(s).

    "I'm not too bothered what application displays my daily newspaper/magazine/ ... / I just want to be sure that it's there when I want it."

    This technology is probably far more important now in order for it to be mainstream, say, 10 years from now.

    There were times in the past when radios (wireless devices) had a similar sort of hardware spread (and similar sort of hardware supporters): super-heterodynes, regenerative systems, feedback systems, ... and that was important at the time [a bit like VHS or Betamax were] But that is not important now as the technology has matured.

    I imagine it is much the same with netbooks, Chrome OS, Android OS, ...

    The success will be when nobody really knows or cares what the OS is or what the applications are. All that matters is content is streamed pleasantly to end user and it synergises well with desktop units? A bit like television for example?

  57. whiteafrican

    @ Geoff Campbell

    "With lightweight reference hardware and a free OS, you could end up with netbooks costing £50-100. Still so sure they'll tank?"

    Yes. Firstly, because who wants to pay *anything* for a computer that can only do half the stuff that a computer should do, and which can only be used in any meaningful way when you have a working internet connection?

    Secondly, because your grasp of economics seems a bit tenuous. The basic cost of components, manufacturing and shipping on most netbooks is not going to be much under £100. OEMs have already tried to make them cheap by using Linux (which is also free) and lightweight hardware (basic off-the-rack hadware, cheaper than the google-specific hardware Chrome OS will need). You're also not considering the fact that this thing *has to* have an SSD, which immediately pushes the price up.

    The bottom line is, by the time you factor in all the R&D that will need to go into developing the hardware to work with the OS, you're going to be saving almost no money as against a netbook running XP/Win7/Ubuntu/Whatever... and at least those operating systems will be able to do useful stuff say, when you're on the tube, or on an aeroplane, or simply out of wireless range & connectivity.

    So yes, in brief, I'd say that ChromeOS machines wil tank unless Google comes up with some much more compelling reasons to buy them...

  58. Kirstian K


    Wont someone think of the children...

    can you imagine, you have to be connected 100% of the time,

    all those (reg) weirdo's out there, pretending to be santa/Peado's/fluffy the bunny who ever!,

    connected all the time too,

    its just going to end in tears!, no child monitoring here..!

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    @Adam T: "Where's everyone's sense of adventure?"

    For myself it died 10 years ago when I got my first IT job and became aware of the awfully tenuous and spinny nature of a great many IT projects.

    @AC 11:00 "Google are trying to make a platform which removes all of the annoyances and pitfalls that make computer life so godawful for normal people."

    Thin client depends on having a great Internet connection, so no network connection = toy no workee. While this is OK if you live in Greater London I would humbly suggest that this is going to be a bit poo if you live out in the sticks.

    What about bugs? Don't they make life annoying for people? Are you saying that Google software won't contain /any/ bugs at all?

    How will "HTTP 404 - Page Not Found" (or a replacement page written in clear, unambiguous English) become more intelligible or less frustrating if you've someone who doesn't understand anything about how web services work, doesn't want to understand, and 'just' wants to look at their online bank statement? Surely you're not saying that Google will solve all these problems?

    "AVG9 has re-enabled link scanning" - in the spirit of irony I Google'd this message and got nothing back.

    "but how exactly she could ever have worked that out herself, worked out why her £500 PC is suddenly completely, totally useless, perhaps you could enlighten me?"

    Why do you expect that an end-user will be able to fix all problems for themselves? Do you fix your own car? Your own guttering? Your own gas boiler? What about the chips in your PC - can you fix those too? Does my knowing that the 'engine management system is fucked' enable me to get my car going? Why assume that life is going to be all roses just because Google are trying to flog you a thin-client netbook?

    IT doesn't provide solutions so much as it provides sets of problems you either feel you can or cannot live with. You don't get to choose a solution which 'just' works - even Apple haven't managed that yet (ever had a 'sad Mac'?) - you just get to choose which set of problems you're afflicted by. This thin-client will get network, solid-state hardware, and application bug problems.

    @Pheet: "But there's a large percentage of the population that don't need a fully fledged PC. They just need a browser where they can access webmail, youtube, and facespace."

    Yeah, but we've already got such devices from Apple, Palm Pilot and so on. Given that we already have such things Google's comments about not wanting to worry about the market look disingenous, and one has to wonder what else Google are bringing to this war of the teeny-tiny computer besides a brand name?

    @AC 11:06

    "Given a web based / low cost / low carbon impact / secure (data held centrally) / low management device priced per user per month from a well respected Brand, which government director would not sign on the dotted line especially if the data was held in a secure Government Clould managed by Google?"

    The same thing that's stopping them from giving everyone HHTs now?

  60. Chris 63


    How will most people cope with their shitty 2gb ISP bandwidth allowances?

    Surely a cloud based systems would burn through that at an alarming rate?

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    elREG gone anti-Google

    What's with all the anti-Google stories recently ?

  62. Mister_C

    Fleabay and paypap

    neither works properly using chrome browser

    any chance there'll be a fix so the crowds don't need to create google checkout accounts?

    thought not. "do no evil" is starting to look a bit tarnished

  63. madhatt3r

    off-line issue

    I don't know if the posters are just "localhost" coders (understandably scared of the web) or is it that I am at fail to understand the information given.

    The system will have a "caching" feature, I believe this means the files actually being worked on will be saved on the netbook. I also believe the latest and up to date version of certain applications will also be installed locally, hence the existence of the "httpd" and "sqlite" on the tree (as someone mentioned above).

    It is still a bit of an indecent proposal (meaningful though if one runs a company), given that google will be the sole software provider by the looks of it, but it opens the door to an idea that people should have developed already instead of copying whatever is around (win, mac, linux).

    Why do most of you omit the "cache" feature? I don't think google are that stupid so as to provide a OS that requires always-on internet. And if they were they must have realised by now that it would be no good.

    I also think that the more competition in the OS and browser marketplace the better, more fingers sharing the pie and more innovation ahead.

    I'll get my bullet-proof coat just in case.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google Bad

    "What's with all the anti-Google stories recently?"

    In the beginning Google was a small search-engine.

    After a time Google's search engine was used more and more and eventually Google became successful.

    Unfortunately for Google if there's one thing the UK can't stand it's someone who's a success but has forgotten that they were once nobody and has started getting a bit up themselves.

    Google's wholehearted adoption of marketing-speak (it's not about names, it's about enabling people - yeah, and a flock of goats might fly out my ass as well), and world-domination strategies to rival Microsoft has made them less the friendly search-engine and more the next annoying pissflap to try and bend my brain with their trivial fucking nonsense.

    For myself I think there are enough marketing drones already and seeing we're still struggling to feed the entire world and not bomb the shit out of each other I fail to see how more capitalist enterprises are going to help our species survive. If the best Google - with its "Google Earth" project* - can do is offer me a notebook then I think they need to go away and re-think what they want.

    * Which I happen to think is a fantastic idea. It just think it's a shame that - having created an online earth they should look upon that earth, see it was good and then think "shit - there's only a limited amount of stuff we can make - maybe we should do something before its too late and our species dies in obscurity? I know - what we need is another computer because starving people can really use a computer". The fuckwits.

  65. Richard 102

    Um ...

    "But we really focus on user needs."

    Since we're all geeks, nerds, and w@nkers here, does that mean they'll be coming out with a line of Personality Implants and Google Fashion Sense?

    Cheers, it's the weekend.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Mobile devices...

    ...load any app you want, develop easily, works even when not connected, free of Mr.Jobs..

    ...Maemo and the N900 ???

  67. This post has been deleted by its author

  68. Anonymous Coward

    Um, Why?

    So Google are positioning the devices running Chrome OS as MIDs (Mobile Internet Devices) which you carry with you all the time and can access Web-based stuff.

    Sorry Google, but that's called a smartphone (and as a bonus, you get "added phone"). They already exist and everyone that needs/wants one pretty much has one. But you know this already because you created Android.

    In my view the following market does not exist:

    People that want a device that lets them access the Internet whenever they want, but are unwilling to buy a smartphone. Or, to put it another way, people that want a smartphone that isn't a phone.

    OK, so the plenty of people buy an iPod Touch, but that plays music, videos, games, etc. and anyone who has one instead of a smartphone almost certainly doesn't care about Web apps.

  69. bexley

    so let me get this straight

    If you cant get on the internet -you cant use your computer?

    and this is just for netbooks?

    well i hope it comes with a free 3G internet service since the only one in the UK is expensive - i paid £10 for3GB of traffic.

    netbooks - portable computers for use when your out and about- when your out and about you dont have access to your home broadband connection.

    this smells like either a HUGE fail or they are not telling us the whole story yet.

    my first opinion, and first opinions count, is that this is a huge waste of everones time.

  70. Anonymous Coward

    Thin Clients Suck

    I suspect anyone who gets this is going to quickly discover that thin clients just don't work. How about the first time you don't have connectivity and your laptop is no more than a door stop. What happens when your cable/ADSL goes down for a day, or when you are on a plane, etc. Then worse still, what about all those disk space intensive things. How about when you download 200 photos from your 10 mega-pixel camera and find that you spend ages uploading them to picasa. Then when you try to print them you find that the reduction in quality of the upload process has made them all grainy and you have deleted your originals off the memory card.

    It's a bad idea and rather doomed to failure...

  71. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Nothing is ever [well, hardly ever] as it seems.

    "..always remember that Google is, at heart, an advertising company."

    Err, you might find that that is a convenient front and spying and phishing is their real game.

  72. archie lukas

    So -it does not really compete with Win7 & Snow does it?

    as I said, So -it does not really compete with Win7 & Snow does it?

    all that hype for a damp squid

  73. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    No more browswer-only systems please

    "Chrome (the browser) isn't all bad but the users seem to be adopting the arrogance of circa 1995 Linux users."

    Oh not just them -- there were SEVERAL of these products that came out in the 1990s.. "Oh all people need is a browser". They were replacements for *desktops* instead, but they flopped too. As will this I think.

    I like Google, but people aren't going to buy a netbook that *only* runs a browser, when they can buy a netbook that has a browser *and* can do other stuff.

    "And while we're at it, can someone out there PLEASE make an alternative OS that isn't yet another Linux clone? I still remember the high hopes out there for Be, and even the Mac Classic OS was something different. Now we have an endless stream of Franken Distros that are someone's "improvements" on Linux. Just condense all the effort into 3 or 4 distros, not 400, otherwise it's just some cruel version of the Monty Python spam skit."

    Well, there are just 3 or 4 *main* distros. I'd say Ubuntu (with the Debian base), SuSE, Redhat(/Fedora) are 3 big ones. There will always be a bunch of special-purpose distros and people working on new ones -- which often don't pan out after like 6 months.

    I agree with you, but the Linux kernel is flexible, you wouldn't have to have what is even recognizable as a Linux distro on top of it. Although most do. I think people use it now for driver support -- it'd be hard to write something like BeOS now and then have to write all those drivers for the huge varieties of hardware on the market. Whereas, modifying a Linux kernel to use a BeOS-compatible API and behavior? Probably easier.

    As for MacOS Classic -- don't go there. No memory protection, no multitasking (the multifinder used cooperative task switching, it relies entirely on the app giving up it's timeslice -- if it doesn't the whole system locks.) No scalable fonts (Adobe Type Manager added this). People are all nostalgic for it but it was not too good.

    I agree though, it was much more interesting back in the day when there was more variety -- in the 80s when there was Atari ST, Amiga, Mac, PC, plus the 8-bits, that was REALLY interesting times.

    "My sister rang last night: her PC has slowed to an unusable crawl. I think I've worked it out - I think it's some techobollocks like "AVG9 has re-enabled link scanning" - but how exactly she could ever have worked that out herself, worked out why her £500 PC is suddenly completely, totally useless, perhaps you could enlighten me?)"

    I'll enlighten you, it's because it's running Windows. These things do not happen to Linux or Mac users (let alone BSD, etc.) Seriously, I run my Linux boxes HARD, haven't reinstalled some of them in over 5 years (just updates), added tons of apps over the years, and do not run into these problems. My parents have Ubuntu boxes, no problems. My sister had Ubuntu and now has a Mac (after her Windows PC she got in between blew up in less than a month). I don't expect people to solve these problems. But the choice isn't "Windows" or "stripped out browser PC".

    "(See? To you, it's "tiny issue, trivial fix"; to her, and the rest of the 90% of normal users, it's "PC unfixably broken".)"

    Nope, I don't fix that kind of stuff any more. I have people come in all the time DESPERATE for someone to fix their broken Windows box. Nobody here in town does it any more -- the most competent computer users abandonded Windows for Linux or Mac years ago (gaming? Xbox360 or PS3...), and the remainder are "wipe and reinstall" types. But again, it's not "Windows" or "browser OS", there's plenty of choice.

    I see far too many people that complain the computer "breaks" all the time, I suggest a solution (Ubuntu or Mac), they say they "need" Windows (despite just browsing the web and word processing, and perhaps IM...). This type gets absolutely no sympathy from me. They make their bed and they can sleep in it.

  74. ThaRobster
    Black Helicopters

    Aren't we forgetting something?

    Didn't / don't most of us (by that I mean IT professionals) spend a good deal of our working lives, regardless of whether it's our job to or not, helping users / friends / family to keep their computers free of spyware? Software (virii) which steals their information and passes it to people who probably want it for the sole reason of making money out of it at any cost?

    With that in mind, how many of us would seriously recommend a system where all your information is held centrally by a large corporation who make their money from putting adverts which are as specific to you as possible in front of you? They already track how people "move" online to target adverts better, what is to stop them trawling the data which users (and according to one comment farther up, rather worryingly, Government Departments) are WILLINGLY giving them? Seriously, why wouldn't they? It's their business, it's what they do, why pass up the opportunity to charge more for their advertising service?

    I don't like Microsoft or Apple much either, but seriously, Google is taking the concept of "evil" to a whole new level.

    At least with Microsoft / Apple, I know I can always secure my private documents permanently, all I need to do is pull the network cable. And guess what? The computer will still pretty much have all the same functionality it did before, which is significantly more than what Chrome OS sounds like it will have.

  75. Hedley Phillips

    How do I use it on the train with no net connection

    Or on the bus, or tube, or doctors waiting room, or on a park bench or at my friends house who doesn't know his WEP key or anywhere that doesn't have an internet conenction which where I live is pretty much everywhere.

    And no, I'm not in deepest darkest Peru but Surrey, just 20 miles South of London.

  76. Alan 37

    Bandwith limits?

    So, if I understant it correctly, everything is on line, so I would very quickly reach my monthly download limit and then have a useless box!

    What's the point?

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    3rd world computing?

    how will this do in the "3rd world"?

  78. J 3

    Web device

    Well, not too bad for a (nearly) web-only device. Thing is, such a thing would have to be really cheap for people to risk buying such a limited device. They are trying to make a network appliance. Question is: is there a market for it? If yes, they have a good thing. If not...

    @El Reg

    "but there's still a fair mount if the Apple in its approach to hardware"

    What in hell was that even suppose to mean?

    El Reg's read-proofing has been slipping more and more lately. Really throws off a non-native speaker like me, who have to re-read the thing two or three time to try to decipher whether it's my bad understanding or the sentence is mangled. There's rarely an article here nowadays that is lacking typos, missing words, extra words or strange combinations. Hence the pedant icon. :-)

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blame The Meeja

    Google have said all along that Chrome OS was going to be an OS for netbooks and similar devices that would be little more than a browser sitting on a kernel and drivers allowing you to do web apps and storing your data on their servers. And that's exactly what they've delivered. When they made the announcement I thought, "No use to me, but a nice idea for some."

    However it seems a big portion of the IT media are somehow disappointed that Google have delivered what they promised. And so are their readers, or at least those not overly blessed with intelligence. Why would that be then?

    When Google announced that they were going to launch their own OS it seems that an awful lot of "journalists" welcomed it with open arms because Google v. Microsoft made a great news story. Never mind that there was nothing in Google's announcement that suggested they were going after the average Win7 customer. Since when would this sort of journalist let facts get in the way of a good story? Then of course the dimmer reader jumped on the story and is now jumping all over Google for not providing the Windows 7 beater that they wanted. Never mind what Google promised.

    Come on people what on earth did you think Google were going to develop in a matter of months? After all It's taken MS and Apple almost 30 years to get their respective operating systems to where they are now.

    Don't blame Google for delivering what they promised. Blame yourself for expecting something else.

    Oh and @Hedley Phillips, ever heard of that little thing called 3G or maybe even GPRS?

  80. Ian Michael Gumby

    @AC Re Thin Clients don't fly...

    When I read the article I was going to post a big yawn because McNealy and Larry was already here 10+ years ago.

    But the big difference between then and now is that there is more bandwidth available. (Read Cheap Broadband), WiFi and WiMax for wireless connectivity exist today when they didn't yesterday.

    And then there's this guy called Moore who has this 'law'... ;-) Yes, today's hardware is x^4 more powerful than when Larry and Scott pushed their idea.

    So yeah, Google didn't invent this idea, they just applied existing/old ideas that were ahead of their time.

    It will be interesting to see if someone hacks their distro and releases their own distro that will allow certain traffic to be filtered and or encrypted.

    I mean heck when you use Google Docs, you store your document on google. How secure is it? But what happens if your document isn't auto saved back to google and the only copy on google is encrypted?

    I wonder if google will then 'outlaw' such a distro and refuse to communicate with it.

    The point is that thin clients may fly in certain situations, just that I don't trust Google.

  81. Stevie

    Google Chrome OS - do we want another monoculture?


  82. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    OK, imagine it was not google behind a novel netbook that for brevity and user security was tied in to its own hardware and supportive cloud.

    For a second, a moment or a twinkling of earth time imagine thus:

    Microsoft bring out its new operating system designed for netbooks, tied in to hardware and stored on MS's cloud.

    Oh, some people don't like that one either?

    Let's imagine now it is Appl - oh! shock horror me!

    Some people don't like that one either?

    Shiver me timbers and let's try Ubunt - ah. It too is equally vocally unliked.

    At this point I tend to reflect back upon some comments that human gene pool has 2% variation as a result of humans disliking anything different [speculative I know, but it shows up oh so frequently with big fingerprints here and there that Sherlock Holmes might not even have to struggle to find not easily]

    Yes and true it will take new connectivity issues, and yes there are likely to be costing issues and coverage issues.

    But who said being human was easy?

    What is life without challenge?

    Once more into the breach

    {the link is rather tenuous and mostly [I hope] poetic?}

  83. Big-nosed Pengie

    Do not want

    That is all.

  84. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Smoke and mirrors

    Cade touches on the subject all to briefly: Google is spanking the chrome monkey hard during Microsoft's week. It's not about facts (hard or floppy, phnarr) but about headlines and presumably OEM deals. ARM Cortex machines are consumers wet dreams but with no usable OS. In steppeth known brand bringing known shit (ever seen Merkens in foreign lands heading to McDonalds because even though it's shit, it's the shit they know?).

    Android has been an incredible success in the short time it's been around. It's success has certainly surprised me, but then I've been wrong about many things. No reason to doubt that Google won't get manufacturers and network operators on board this time as well: the brand is worth a fuck of a lot. The Google top might cost € 300 in the shops but it might also be "free" on contract. The market for cheap shit is always there. Expect lots more "news" on Chrome over the coming months. An interesting market will be set-top boxes and phones as anyone who follows Opera may have noticed: exactly the market that Microsoft vainly pursued with Web-TV is now out there. There you are watching you're favourite programme or wanking over your favourite porn star on the big screen with constant e-mail and tw*tter updates.

    But I've also got to moan:

    "Given a web based / low cost / low carbon impact / secure (data held centrally) / low management device priced per user per month from a well respected Brand, which government director would not sign on the dotted line especially if the data was held in a secure Government Clould managed by Google?"

    I've got to assume this was trolling by someone who (rightly) thinks we don't need to have this announced as it's complete load of cock: "secure ... cloud managed by Google" has got to be one of the oxymorons of this still young millenium! Interesting how many pro-Google posts are from "anonymous cocksuckers"

    A pint of Frankenheim Alt, if you're asking.

    @ John Gathercole: well-said that man. The same goes to the rare few who cut through the crap.

    @ those mourning BeOS: Haiku is alive and well and runs on lots of hardware.

  85. Trevor Pott o_O Gold badge

    @AC 10:42

    "@Trevor Pott ref local devices - sounds just like something Grandma could do. Not."

    You grandma can't plug USB in? My wifi router has a pair of USB ports. I plugged my printer in, and when I wandered back to my desk Win 7 was saying "hey, I just discovered a printer!" My ghast was flabbered, but it didn't seem to have to install anything, and "Just Worked."

    Now, if Microsoft can do it, ( they aren't very good at talking "standards" to any device,) Google should be able to figure this out too.

    For that matter, I have a Linux box with a printer attached, (never fed it drivers, so I assume Fedora came with them,) and every other Linux box on the same subnet can cheerfully talk to that printer with zero configuration.

    I don't remotely claim to comprehend the voodoo these devices use to communicate with each other and announce "hey, I have a device attached to me!" I am sure there is some protocol someone dreamt up somewhere that slowly got implemented in a bunch of devices and operating systems while i was busy not caring about it. (I've used nothing but networked printers for the past ten years. Well up until about 2 months ago when I got a USB jobbie for home.)

    The point is that "them thar peripheral things" seem to have evolved some form of recognition protocol that behaves very similar to DLNA some time in the past decade. So if all the newfangled goodness talks the same language, just why exactly couldn't grandma plug a printer into her router and have the GooglePad print to it?

    Now, I'm off to figure out what the heck kind of self configuring protocol these things are actually using, because not knowing is really irksome...

  86. Paul 129

    Computer as a comminucations device

    The computer is morphed into being a communications device. Sure you may be communicating documents or videos, entertainment. Forget about it really driving other stuff, cause that not what people want.

    Not a bad concept really, as that's what most people use them for anyway.

    MS could not deliver this concept, and it doesn't for you to buy software.

    No one else has the size to pull something like this off, and the flash in the pan of netbooks shows there is a potential market there.

    Good luck to them.

  87. Anonymous Coward

    if google are wize




  88. Dodgy Dave

    A porker: will not fly

    1) Right now, people *think* they want Windows: it's the devil they know. I continually try to persuade my computer-incompetent relatives to let me set up Linux or just go buy a Mac, but they won't. Even when they go from XP to Vista and everything breaks, they won't switch away from Microsoft.

    2) The point of the Web, especially the Cloud, is universal access. Many of us read our daily news or email on a home PC, on a work PC, a smartphone or MID, maybe a set-top box. Browsers are bursting out all over (did you know there are TV's which run Linux internally, just for fun?) and the future will only bring more. Are these all going to run Chrome OS? Consumers aren't going to like the idea of a 'special PC' just to have access to their email and documents.

    3) Drivers, drivers, drivers! The entire market for add-ons in high-street stores (from printers and webcams to USB coffee warmers) is based on the fact that a Windows driver is all you need. (Linux people write their own, and Mac people wouldn't be seen dead in PC World anyway). Cheapo tat-makers won't want to write a whole extra driver unless the market is huge, and Google won't seemingly allow them in the OS anyway.

    4) They are fighting Microsoft on their home turf. Look: Asus's initial EEE had a Linux distro, which cost them nothing and offered them total control. Now XP has taken over, despite costing money per unit and ceding control to Redmond. I don't know how they did it, but if a completely free (as in both speech and beer) OS couldn't hold out, how will Google's offering do better?

    5) The 'security' aspect is completely bogus. There may well be no malware for Chrome OS - yet. But as soon as the whole Chrome ecosystem acquires value, it WILL be attacked one way or another, and frankly I trust Google less than Microsoft when it comes to security.

  89. Red Bren

    @Trevor Pott o_O 00:44

    "...every other Linux box on the same subnet can cheerfully talk to that printer with zero configuration. I don't remotely claim to comprehend the voodoo these devices use to communicate with each other..."

    The answer is closer than you think...

    "I'm off to figure out what the heck kind of self configuring protocol these things are actually using..."

    You could start by googling "zero configuration"

    I just hope your post wasn't tongue-in-cheek or I'll look like a condescending tw@t

  90. John Sanders

    It seems...

    As if This ChromeOS thing won't have problems with an HD that get's filled up over time, I guess that it won't happen because all is stored on the magical cloud.

    I suppose too that it won't suffer malfunctions like other computer like appliances (phones) do.

    It will never crash... it will never have a security breach, won't be hackable, no one will ever write a virus for it.

    It won't have user profiles, so mom can read dad's affair emails easily, and dad can sniff who's dating daughter.

    I guess too the magic cloud will take care of grandma screwing the bookmarks, and grandpa won't fall for the latest lottery scam.

    It seems that as someone pointed it earlier there won't be any IT grief using ChromeOS.

    Anything so people do not need to learn, because learning a little bit of IT (just enough) hurts, it is like learning how mortgages work, it hurts.

    For god sake, can anyone give me some of that magic cloud to breathe? it seems to be good shit.

  91. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

    let's wait and see

    Remember the first Eee 701s? The crappy Xandros that came with it? Some of us had fun souping it up and some of us eventually ditched the thing for something else.

    As one poster imagined, for simple needs, it may do the job, albeit, with the end user having less control of his/her data.

    I have to admit, the way Chrome OS sounds, it has little that interests me, except for how they did it, what you can learn from it (they might have a few tricks on fast boot up and shutdown for example) and what they are likely to bundle it with hardware wise.

    I'd like to get my grubby paws on a cheap ARM netbook and if it means I have to get chrome OS on the side, I might just grin and bear it , much the same way I got a 701 with Xandros on it.

  92. Someone312

    Outsource the hardware!

    Assuming a user was on a futuristic high-end connection:

    One possibility is that this could create services that run the appropriate hardware and software for you to use applications (such as high-end games) remotely.

    Services like this could just update your web-application's display to show what the application/game shows remotely - clicks, etc, in the web-application could be sent back to the server for user in the remote application.

    You would never again have to update your hardware or software - but subscription or usage fees would be ghastly. After all, someone would have to pay for all of that hardware.

    Alternatively, someone could just write a horribly large high-end web-application and go back to the "upgrade your hardware" run-around.

    Either way - more money lost, or more bandwidth lost, or both.

  93. Chika

    Has Google misread the market?

    ISTR a recent article in this very Reg that stated that the Netbook was not being used in quite the way that Google seem to be implying.

    Google is offering nothing here. Please move along.

  94. Greg J Preece


    "The hardware support is limited, but the reasons for that should be clear: it's a Linux OS and can't install extra drivers."

    Woah woah woah, hang on a minute.....what?

  95. Pirate Dave Silver badge


    with no locally stored apps, and no (easily) accessible local file storage, how again is Google's Linux distro any better than the OS running a digital clock or a TI-8x calculator? Woohoo, we can see the source to a Linux distro that closes itself off when it runs. Big win there.

    It's still a locked-down pile of apps with not alot of purpose.

    It will be interesting to see how Google reacts when someone forks Chrome and takes their version off in a direction that Google doesn't approve of - ie lets it run local apps and have local storage.

  96. Anonymous Coward

    interesting, but..

    ..if I can't filter ads, I am not interested, and will keep Linux on my netbook. I use Linux, MacOS and Windows, and have Firefox on all three with AdBlock. Without it, the intarpipes would be unusable with the acres of dancing, flashing jiggling "punch Sarah Palin and win an HP whitepaper on datacenter virtualisation" ads surrounding everything.

    Chrome is a nice browser, but it's currently useless to me without Adblock.

  97. Anonymous Coward

    People want Windows for a good reason

    Thanks all you Linux/Mac tards in the thread above. But people don't just want Windows for familiarity with the OS reasons. Most people want Windows because that runs the software they either need or have learnt. Let's look at some of the apps that people want on their home PC:

    1) Games. And let's be fair, virtually all of them work best on Windows. You might be able to get some running on Linux, but only if you are an uber-geek willing to go through all the pain in the world. Quite a few work on Macs these days, but not all.

    2) MS Office. This is more contentious, but I have a good experience at home where I run MS Office on 2 computers and Open Office on 2 others. My girlfriend has a nightmare whenever she is using Open Office because it is so unfamiliar. Also, Open Office Calc isn't a patch on Excel. If you are a power user of spreadsheets, Excel is still the market leader - and don't forget it was Excel that originally won the office-wars for Office. Word Perfect was always the better word processor, but not by much, Excel was the better spreadsheet by a large margin.

    3) Specialist Software. What happens when you want to buy PhotoShop (and there is no Linux equivalent of the same quality), or RosettaStone (no Linux version), or you want to run a CAD system that you also run at work (maybe AutoCAD, or Rhino 3D - where you can get a free version).

    4) Your work VPN. A lot of companies use custom software for securing their VPN connections for when you are home working - especially big ones. Many of these are written as browser plugins that need Windows and IE, or maybe Windows and Firefox. I know some people at work who have got a flaky connection from a Mac, but it is kind of rare for these things to work on Linux.

    So get a grip, there are more reasons that Windows is the dominant OS than just people's ignorance.

  98. Pirate Dave Silver badge

    @AC - People Want Windows

    Err, you do realize that Chrome is targeted at netbooks? Meaning your points 1 and 3 are quite possibly not applicable here (at least I can't imagine trying to play a game or run Photoshop on the shitty little screen on my netbook). Your point 2 is well taken, though. Lack of MS Office under Chrome will be as onerous an omission as it was under general Linux on the first generation netbooks. Your point 4 is perhaps true, but is changing as vendors add support for Linux to their custom VPN clients.

    Most folks don't want to "run software", they want to "do things". Quite a difference.

  99. Richard Jukes

    know one will read this but...

    Dont you think that google is focusing an awful lot on getting it right with hardware and security? and its a thin terminal? sounds like it could be perfect secure government is the key there, the thin terminal could be used anywhere then, and google gets fat $$ to service gov. IT contracts and has our data!

  100. Trevor Pott o_O Gold badge

    @Red Bren

    Yeah, i knew it was called Zeroconf, but I always assumed, (and still sort of do) that there is an actual protocol underneath it. (Always thought Zeroconf was the package name.)

    You know, like IPR is a more-or-less standard way of doing the internet printer there a protocol underlying zeroconf? I guess I suspect it more because Windows seems to be able to speak whatever language these routers are speaking...but not whatever the Linux boxen are.

    And no, you don't come across as condescending...printers are functionally voodoo to me. I still operate on the "use network printers only, install the printers once with all possible drivers on a windows file/print server, and have the clients browse to and double click on that printer to install it" theory. Old fashioned, apparently, since all this new voodoo came out while I wasn't looking.

  101. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    lean, fast and simple

    I think most people seem to be approaching this from a very narrow mindset. most of the criticisms made here are Chrome's strengths. most people, most of the time, use their computer at home for surfing the net with the occasional bit of word processing. this will be brilliant for 2nd systems/netbooks. it's plausible for desktops as if there's a possibility for a dual boot option for those situations where you need other applications. i'd love a fast booting netbook.

  102. Inachu


    I am sure a PC (I386) version will be made soon.

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