Thoughts On Chrome OS

Chrome OS is an interesting idea, though I still don’t see it as revolutionary like some people. To me it’s still a terminal but unlike the VT100 uses web standards.

Regarding reliability, in my opinion you’ve added new points of failure: your network connection, and the cloud. I’ve see my network connection and web services experience way more problems than my personal computer has.

Regarding security, you’re only as secure as your password to the cloud. Since all your data is synced to the cloud, anyone who can obtain access has it. No longer is physical access necessary. Disk encryption may have saved you when physical access is obtained, but in the cloud you’re often relying on what’s available.

Regarding cost, this becomes a toss up. On the plus side you can have cheap hardware. You don’t need much storage, or CPU. On the downside, your a slave to your network connection for even the most basic tasks. We’ve yet to enter a world of free wireless, and even broadband services are looking to switch to metered service as a replacement to the “all you can eat” plans we’re used to. A change to how bandwidth is priced can ruin this model overnight.

Lets not forget broadband performance in the US is far from stellar. Web UI has improved greatly over the years, but it’s hardly at the level of desktop applications.

Personally I see little value at this time for cheap hardware in exchange for giving up most control. I can replicate all the functionality of Chrome OS using a web browser, and get the added bonuses of a full operating system.

Would I use it? Perhaps as a throw around netbook, but not as a primary computer, or even for serious work. Maybe one day, but not in 2009, and I highly doubt 2010 will close all those gaps.

5 thoughts on “Thoughts On Chrome OS

  1. VT100 it seems to be, but the big change over traditional “dumb” terminals is the inclusion of an actual programming language (JavaScript) on the client side. The client is not dumb anymore.

    Other than that, let’s wait and see. I share some of your doubts, especially since Google Wave performance is less than stellar and quite laggy. That might improve over time but I seem to have misplaced my crystal ball somewhere …

  2. Although you give up some functionality, the bonus is lack of state on the computer. All state is kept in your account, instead of on the computer. A fast-booting firmware and OS, that cryptographically checks its integrity and extends this security model into the browser, with each tab as a separate sandbox.

    The dangers of the web suddenly seem a lot less dangerous, and if they do affect you the system self-heals.

    Knowing first-hand the amount of time it takes to maintain a few laptops and desktops in working order I would be happy to have such a stateless Chrome OS device.

    • @Martijn: not totally true, the dangers are just as real, just hidden. If your [cloud provider] account stores even more of your data, it being compromised becomes an even problem, not to mention it’s a larger target.

  3. I agree that this sounds (from the two pages I’ve hit so far this morning) like a Terminal OS, or a return to the old “thin client” metaphor, with the cloud rather than a corporate server.

    I think you might be wrong to think of it on a traditional computer, for techies.

    I want it on my TV.

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