The recently released Google CR-48 computer caused a wave across the geek-o-sphere. If you signed up and were deemed worthy, you received a black laptop which looks like the black MacBook circa 2008 which run Google’s Chrome operating system (Chrome OS). The reaction is a litmus test of where you stand on computing and on Google’s Borg-like intrusion into everything we do.
The operating system doesn’t let you open files or rummage around the system folder, or make you do any kind of management at all. Booting up takes less than 20 seconds, and you get a browser window and that’s it.
The amazing thing is this: you can have all the advantages of Google’s Chrome OS without getting your hands on one of these CR-48’s (I’ve applied, but I’m not holding my breath). All you have to do is download Google’s Chrome browser. You then log into the browser with your gmail account and get to the Chrome app store. Once you do, you get access to all the Chrome OS apps that you would get on the CR-48. If you run the browser in full screen mode, I bet it is basically indistinguishable from the CR-48’s basic screen, but with all the usability of your own computer, whether it be running Mac OS, Linux, or Windows.
The screen shot from above is the NY Times app running full screen -it’s very nifty and fast and formats the Times in a way that is not iPad like but not entirely web-like either. I think the days of bringing up a web page on a browser is going to be considered antediluvian by todays generation, which is a shame because I remember when you could browse to any web site served up by anyone with the interest, but now you need an app to be legitimate.
Do I like it? Yes! Because I can access my data from anywhere, but the great line is faith and trust in the cloud. How secure is it and what is Google gaining from knowing even more about us. The great possibility for Chrome OS is this: you may in a year have several computer choices where using the computer comes first and maintaining it -maintaining the virus protection, the folders and files, and programs is a nonissue. This is a breakthrough for people who have to spend hours on the phone with older relatives whose Windows machines stop working and they can’t figure out what you mean by ControlAltDelete.