Google Chrome OS is a bootable browser, the web is the OS


I hadn’t weighed in on this at all, and not that this will make any difference, but at least I can put some links out.

There seems to be a lot of confusion circulating about Chrome OS being developed as some new Google-polished linux distro - see Wired: No one wants Linux netbooks as one example.

The title of my post basically says what needs saying - but just to clarify: Google Chrome OS is NOT going to be like any other desktop operating system, be it Windows, Mac, or Linux that you might be familiar with.

There will only be one conventional application installed, the browser. In short, the web is the OS.

How does that work? Well, for a complete answer, it might be a good idea to watch this year’s Google I/O keynote - Arrington did, and he’s on board - and reporting on this better than anyone.

Basically, Google’s long term strategy (as it always has been) is to continue to push the limits of the web as a platform, driving adoption of HTML5 and other open standards, until eventually no other (local/proprietary) platform is required for any of the activities you might associate with desktop computing, including games.

If you watched that, now you’re getting the idea - new elements in the HTML5 specification like canvas, video and web workers will give developers the tools to create web applications with pixel level control and resource allocation previously locked up in plugins, or constrained to the desktop.

So what will Chrome OS actually be? Well, at the very least, it could essentially just be a bootable version of the Chrome browser (the kernel boots, the browser launches, and you’re online - that would be it). Now, just for this, Google would have to do a ton of work behind the scenes with hardware makers and the linux community to get enough driver and device support for this to be ready for the mass market.

At most, it could offer some suite of file management, search and other native applications that will run Google-style in the browser ala Google Desktop. The “GDrive”, of course, is expected to make it’s long awaited debut.

The interface for all that is going to be some kind of search. If I had to guess, some new variant of the iGoogle home page - or if we’re lucky, it might be some kind of new search interface that we’ve never seen before.

So can you really completely manage your digital life, work (and hard drive!) with search alone (and maybe some labels)?

Well, we shall see. Having followed all the crazy Google OS rumors over the years, it’s nice to know I’ll finally get the chance to find out.

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