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.