We kinda knew already, but Google made it clear last week: The Chrome OS is basically the Linux kernel with the Chrome browser as its command shell. The "applications" you "run on" Chrome OS will actually run in the Chrome browser, period. In other words, Chrome OS is a Web appliance without the hardware -- yet.
The physical Web appliance, produced by an unnamed hardware manufacturer, will be some sort of clamshell with a flash drive. It will arrive by next Christmas, sip battery power like a hummingbird, and sell for, well, not much.
[ InfoWorld's Neil McAllister filed his report on Chrome OS from the press conference last week with all the details Google was willing to release. ]
I want one already.
At least, I want one if it matches what's in my mind's eye. First of all, I am assuming that it will be both cheap and fast, as claimed. I love the idea that it is supposed to boot up in a few seconds. In fact, top to bottom, it's supposed to be optimized at the hardware architecture level for its single purpose as a Web appliance. I sure hope so. As far as I can tell, the little 1.6GHz Atom netbook I bought on a whim was never optimized for anything, including browsing, opening a file, or any other useful activity. It's the hardware equivalent of one of those stupid Comcast turtles in the commercial. Google and its hardware partner(s) will have to do way, way better than that.
Assuming they do, there's another performance factor: the network. That wouldn't be a problem with Wi-Fi, of course, but I am assuming that for this gadget to qualify as an appliance, it will need to hook up with a 3G/4G network. Carriers may even be the primary resellers of these things, just as some now offer netbooks. The iPhone has had a way of maxing out cells in saturated areas like San Francisco and, of course, you always get snappier performance over Wi-Fi anyhow. Will carrier network performance improve by the end of next year? And will they charge more or less than that odious $30 per month data charge?
>One thing is for certain: Airlines won't offer Wi-Fi on the flights I take, so the appliance will have to work offline. Google Gears will take care of that. Will there be enough local storage, though, for a presentation? I always seem to do presentations on planes.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Reality check: This won't be a notebook replacement; it will be a Web appliance -- with, apparently, extraordinary battery life. Open it up and the Web is right there. Yes, my iPhone does that too, but all that gesturing gets old after a while. A window on the Web in a laptop's body for a song? With a name like Chrome I bet it will be shiny.
Yeah, I want one.