Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chrome OS: The Future of Computing?

On January 27th I received a Chrome Cr-48 running the newest operating system out there, Chrome OS. Chrome OS is an operating system that runs off the cloud. No data is stored on the computer, everything you do will be done on the web. The greatest feature about this is that if you have your browser synced with your Google account, you can log onto any computer running Google Chrome or Chrome OS and have all of your bookmarks, preferences, and themes loaded onto that computer. If your Chrome OS computer is ever lost, stolen, or damaged, you can simply get a new computer, log in with your Google account, and everything will be there from where you left off.

The appeal of Chrome OS seems to be limited for most people though. While I can still listen to music through Pandora, upload my pictures to Picasa, I can't have a safe place to keep my own things. I can't open up iTunes or any other music player to play my own music. I can't grab my own photos to keep on my computer. A lot of things people will want to do on a Chrome OS computer will cost them more time and money than it did if they had a regular Netbook or Notebook. You may have to start paying to upload your photos to Picasa, you may want to buy a yearly subscription to Pandora, Rhapsody, or another online radio website, and you may have to pay for a data plan through a wireless provider just for that computer if you want to be on the web anywhere.

Google is trying to fix these problems though. Their Chrome Web Store offers a lot of "Apps" that can do many of the things that you would usually do on a computer running Windows or Mac OS X. There is one application that allows you to remotely access many of the Microsoft Office programs, and you could even use a website like GoToMyPC to remotely access your own computer while on the road. The problems with these solutions though are performance. Your network connection may be slow, it may take a lot of time to upload things, and cost comes into play again. These things aren't free. You'll have to pay more money to access things you've already paid for since a lot of the apps cost money to use.

At this time, Chrome OS is a fun little thing to play with, and I'm sure there could be a huge shift in the future, but right now it isn't going to be the right thing for most consumers. One place I could see Chrome OS succeeding is in the business area. I know of many companies that only use a web browser to get all of their work done. They may use Microsoft's Office application, but they could start using Google Docs or even the version of Office that Microsoft offers online. It would save companies a lot of money when trying to save on computers and upgrades.

Chrome OS is still in the testing phase and isn't ready for general consumers, but soon we will see how it does when it goes public.

Learn more about Chrome OS by clicking here.

Photo: http://www.google.com/chrome/intl/en/images/dlpage_alt.jpg

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