Tag Archives | Google Chrome OS

More Fun (and Headaches) With Google’s Cr-48 Chromebook

Cr-48 notebookAt the end of last week, I mentioned that I was heading out of town for a long weekend–mostly involving pleasure, but some work as well–and was going to take Google’s Cr-48 Chrome OS notebook as my only computer. The trip’s almost over. And here’s a report on how it went.

  • Like Chrome-the-browser, Chrome OS includes an embedded version of Adobe’s Flash Player. And as with the browser, the fact that Flash is built in doesn’t seem to do much to improve it, at least in my experience. I’ve had repeated instances of Flash crashing, leaving Chrome’s “choking folder” icon where a video should be. In fact, entire tabs have crashed on the Cr-48 several times; I can’t tell whether Flash is the culprit.
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Figuring Out Google’s CR-48 Chrome OS Notebook

Cr-48 notebookOn Tuesday, Google announced its CR-48 notebook–the for-testing-purposes-only Chrome OS machine it’s distributing via a pilot program. Yesterday, I received one for review.

My first impressions are–well, I’m still figuring them out. But here are some initial notes.

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All Web Apps are “Glorified Bookmarks”

Whether you love or hate the idea of Google’s Chrome Web Store, you’ve got appreciate the discussion it’s provoked on the nature of web apps.

So far, a prevailing criticism is that many of the store’s offerings aren’t really web apps at all. They’re just glorified bookmarks to existing websites, at least according to some folks who’ve written user reviews. And if they’re just glorified bookmarks, why do they even exist?

We’ll get to that question shortly. But first, I want to challenge the term “glorified bookmark” as a pejorative. Because really, everything in the Chrome Web Store is nothing more than a link to another website. That’s the point.

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Chrome OS and Android: Questions, Questions, and More Questions

Google's Cr-48 Chrome OS notebook

 

It’s been an exceptionally eventful week for news about the future of Google’s operating systems. On Monday night, I attended the opening session of the Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital: Dive Into Mobile conference in San Francisco, cohosted by Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. It featured a meaty conversation with Andy Rubin, the father of Android. Then yesterday, I took a side trip from Dive Into Mobile to go to Google’s Chrome event, which ended with details on Chrome OS’s rollout. (The Chrome OS notebooks that were supposed to go on sale this holiday season have been postponed until the first half of 2011, but Google is launching a pilot program based around a test Chrome OS device called the Cr-48.)

Both events answered some of my questions about what’s next for Google’s OSes, but they also left me asking new ones. Here they are–starting with ones relating to Chrome OS, since we learned more about it than we did about the next generation of Android.
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Chrome OS Update

Good story in the New York Times on Google’s Chrome OS, with some juicy tidbits (a Google honcho says that 60 percent of businesses could dump Windows for Chrome OS immediately, and that he “hopes” Chrome OS leads to system administrators losing their jobs.)

I’m looking forward to seeing Chrome OS machines, whenever they show up, but I worry that it’s both outdated (it dates from the pre-iPad era, and feels like it) and ahead of its time (it assumes you don’t want to run any local apps at all). We’ll see.


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Chrome OS is Delayed, and That’s Okay

As 2010 winds down, it seems unlikely that Google and its hardware partners will launch any Chrome OS netbooks this year.

Last week, Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said Chrome OS netbooks won’t be available for the holidays, but the company’s spokespeople aren’t as candid, telling TechCrunch, “We’re not going into details at this point.” MG Siegler guesses that we’ll see the cloud-based operating system in beta this year, with actual retail products in early 2011.

And that’s fine. Chrome OS needn’t be rushed to market. Google should take all the time it needs.

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Can a Chrome OS Tablet Make It Without Apps?

The list of present, future, and speculative iPadversaries I compiled last week wasn’t comprehensive–for instance, I didn’t include Samsung’s Galaxy Tab. And it’s growing more incomplete every day. Download Squad, for instance, is reporting a rumor that Google and Verizon will release a tablet on November 26th. Unlike the scads of Google-powered tablets that will run the Android OS, this one is supposedly powered by the still-unreleased Chrome OS.

I don’t know if there’s anything to Download Squad’s story, but it would be stunning if Chrome OS didn’t wind up on one or more tablets in the next few months. When Google announced the OS thirteen months ago, it looked like a glimpse of one potential future for personal computing. But the intended hardware–clamshell case with physical keyboard–no longer feels like it’s part of the next wave of anything. And another aspect of the OS–its dependence on the Web–feels like it might be part of the next wave after the next wave, not the immediate future.

The obvious point of reference for a Chrome OS tablet is the iPad. But from everything we know about Chrome OS so far, there’s one crucial point of differentiation: iPads are all about local apps, and Chrome OS (like the JooJoo) is designed to subsist entirely on Web apps. (Google is readying a Chrome OS app store, but the apps in question will all live on the Internet.)

If Verizon is involved with a Chrome OS tablet, it’ll presumably have built-in 3G connectivity, which means that the notion of it living off Internet services isn’t completely screwy. But I’m convinced that when it comes to mobile devices, apps are where it’s at–for the next couple of years, at least–and that a platform that doesn’t even try to play catchup with Apple’s iOS would be operating at a severe disadvantage.

Your thoughts?


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Why Chrome OS Needs Solitaire and Freecell

To get a sense of how Chrome OS is coming along, TechCrunch’s MG Siegler checked in on the Google Code page for Chromium OS, the development version of Google’s budding operating system. He found a bunch of recent changes, like a cleaner interface, a description of the boot process and a debate over the treatment of ZIP files.

But what I want to focus on is gaming. To quote Siegler:

A big issue Google has been thinking about for a long time is “addictive” offline games that people can play with Chrome OS machines. Initial ideas included: Solitaire, Poker, Tower Defense, Color flood game, Minesweeper-style, Suduko, Bejewled-style. … Work continues on this.

Peering into the conversation thread for games, it’s not clear how quickly the initiative is moving along, but I’m struck by how Google would benefit from these kinds of offline games in the finished version of Chrome OS.

Casual games such as Solitaire aren’t the most glorious computing tasks imaginable — actually, they can be downright detrimental — but they are an important part of the PC experience. In 2005, the triumvirate of Spider Solitaire, Klondike and Freecell were reported to account for half of all game-playing time. As VentureBeat pointed out in 2007, more than 400 million people had played Solitaire on Windows PCs, an I’m sure the number has ballooned since then.

But why would Chrome OS, essentially a portal to the Web, need offline versions of these games when there’s no shortage of online gaming portals? Because it’s the dead-simple, anywhere access that makes Windows Solitaire so alluring. Something similar for Chrome OS would be a beacon of familiarity in an unfamiliar environment. Want people to feel at home in a new operating system? Let them play Solitaire.


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Please, Google, No 3D Android Interface Just Yet

If you love a company and Google buys it, worry. That’s been my conclusion lately. And the latest evidence is the company’s acquisition of BumpTop, the company behind a cool 3D desktop interface. So far, the news for BumpTop fans is bad: The product is being discontinued and even people who have paid for it have to deal with that nasty concept “end-of-life support.”

I’m curious about Google’s intentions for the technology. It hasn’t said anything so far, but the most logical assumption is that it intends to use what it’s bought in Android and/or Chrome OS.

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Run Chrome OS Like a Native

Run in a virtualized machine, Google’s Chrome OS feels pretty much like Chrome-the-browser–which makes the whole exercise kind of pointless, since it’s a lot harder to install and run a virtualized OS than a browser. But now f0lks are trying Chrome OS as a native, non-virtualized OS, a simple, non-invasive experiment if you install it on a thumb drive you can boot your PC from. Engadget’s Paul Miller has given it a go and is enthusiastic about the OS’s speed and the overall experience. He’s got a quick video review, and links to the BitTorrented copy of the OS you need to try this yourself. (I haven’t yet, but will try to fit it into my busy schedule for the rest of the week: traveling to a turkey-eating location, eating turkey, and resting from eating turkey.)

 


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