Why Wouldn't You Want Apps?

By  |  Friday, December 24, 2010 at 9:27 am

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Cr-48 notebookI’ve been having fun fooling around with Google’s Cr-48 notebook, the experimental machine which runs its Chrome OS. (The company is doling out thousands of Cr-48 test units, but Chrome OS laptops won’t go on sale until next year.) I even took the Cr-48 on a long-weekend trip and pretty much got everything done that I needed to do. (For instance, I wrote this column on it, using Google Docs.)

But when I returned home from my trip, I put the Cr-48 away and haven’t returned to it since. I’m sure I’ll revisit it. But for now, given a choice between a Chrome OS laptop and a traditional laptop (my MacBook Air), I’m opting for the latter.

How come? It’s simple, really: Chrome OS both giveth and taketh away. What it giveth is simplicity and security–since it’s pretty much just a Web browser that’s sprouted stubby little legs that let it function (just barely) as an operating system, there’s very little that can go wrong. It boots and snaps out of suspend mode in a jiffy; it’s almost impossible to lose data, since it’s all stored in the cloud; it should be as close to impervious to viruses and trojans as a computing device can be.

But Google accomplished all this by creating an operating system that can’t run local applications. And for now, at least, losing local apps is a gigantic downside. If you’re in love with the notion of a Web-only computer, you may love the Cr-48; if you just want to accomplish stuff, it’s a work in progress at best.
(Note: Google will presumably address some of Chrome OS’s current limitations, such as the near-impossibility of transferring photos from an SD card, before commercial machines go on sale.)

In late 2010, there are applications that work far better in Web-based form than they ever could as a desktop program. (Can you imagine Facebook as a piece of Windows software?) There are ones which work well both on the Web and in desktop form, such as e-mail. And there are ones that are useful in at least certain circumstances on the Web, such as office suites.

But there are also applications that just plain work better as desktop software. Photo-editing, for instance–I love the Web-based Picnik, but I’d go bonkers if it were the only image editor I had. (It’s fun for casual editing of one or two pictures, but not so good for blasting through a bunch of photos as fast as possible.)

I also don’t know of a Web-based presentation service that’s a truly satisfactory PowerPoint replacement, at least for single users. (SlideRocket is far better than PowerPoint in some respects, but it’s really designed and priced for workgroup use.)

And then there’s any instance in which you can’t get online. Chrome OS has a few features for offline usage–the Google Docs word processor can run without a connection, for instance–but for the most part, it’s meant to be used online. Even the best purely Web-based app can’t compete with desktop software if you just can’t get to it.

So as I used the Cr-48, I kept thinking to myself “this is neat–but it would be even neater with a local app or two.” Slate’s Farhad Manjoo makes a similar point in a story called “I Want Chromedroid.”

Google clearly doesn’t agree–here’s a recent blog post titled “Nothing but the Web,” a title which is meant as a manifesto, although it’s also a summary of Chrome OS’s limitations. Turning Chrome OS into a more traditional operating system would be tantamount to admitting it was a bad idea; I’m guessing Google would kill it (or merge it into Android) first.

I don’t want to sound like a Luddite. I use Web-based apps around 85 percent of the time, and that percentage will only grow. It may hit 100 percent. For now, though, the desktop apps I use 25 15 percent of the time are essential to my work. They’re not options, and I don’t see why I should give them up.

So I’m sticking with traditional computers for now. Yes, they’re imperfect. But you can install Google’s Chrome browser on a Windows PC or Mac, run it in full-screen mode, and then load local apps whenever the urge strikes. Isn’t that much closer to the best of both worlds than using an operating system that offers Chrome and nothing else?


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41 Comments For This Post

  1. jltnol Says:

    Ehhhh.. Yeah… For the last time I will NOT store my docs online as a primary source of storage. For back up? Yes, but not for every day "need it right now" tasks. The web is way to fragile to handle the amounts of data transfers if everyone moved to the cloud. And, as has already happened, when your cloud goes down, there is nothing you can do but wait and hope and pray that those in charge can get everything back online with no data loss. Regardless of the price from free to expensive, I'm not about to trust ANYONE with my data, but me. I take enough precautions to make sure copies are kept in several places, and all up to date.

    For content producers, especially media, the "cloud" will only and always be a dream and a nightmare.

  2. SPM Says:

    To be honest, you are far more likely to lose data stored locally than data stored on the cloud. I have never lost any data stored on my google apps account, whereas I have lost data stored on local hard drives, floppy disks and CD ROMs. In fact Google stores it's data dupicated and scattered across different geographic locales. It is very difficult to destroy it – hard drive failure, earthquake, fire, even nuclear war will find it difficult to destroy the data. In fact I don't think any user data has been lost by any user of Google apps so far. That is a lot more than can be said for locally stored data. Then there is the comparatively much higher risk of losing your laptop or having it stolen – I don't think anyone has ever simultaneously stolen a complete set of these geographically distributed Google storage units as would be necessary to lose a uers's data.

  3. jltnol Says:

    To be honest, while YOU may loose data stored locally, I never have. Copies exist at home, on a a back up at home, at the office, and some are stored in the cloud.

    Your right, some cloud providers are great about making sure all is well, but what happens when you have no cloud access?

    But the complexity of Google's storage system makes me shiver, because if the system that allows you access to your part of their cloud goes down, then you are SOL.

    Can it happen? Does it happen? You betcha'!. Intuit suffered cloud down time for their online customers just this year that lasted for several days. DAYS!

    Sorry, but don't sign me up for that kind of service, even if it's free.

  4. Lonepsycho Says:

    The keyword of your post is "I have never lost any data stored on my google apps account YET". Your data management is left to the third party, and this way can you be sure that your docs won't leak? it happened before (gmail calendar if I remember correctly) It will again. And no it's not a question will it happen, but more likely when. And trust me when it will happen its going to strike hard. For me leaked data equals lost data. The best option as I can see is use cloud computing just for processing data, pushing large amounts of data to the cloud process it using lots and lots of CPU's and getting it back removing any trace of it from cloud. that processing could also be integrated into app which would use it as additional performance boost if available, yet being capable to accomplish the job by itself. So there is no way "traditional" OS will fade away, and there is no way cloud computing will die. in fact it's been awhile for a very long time.

  5. Paul Says:

    I know… and when the electricity or the cable or the telephone systems happen to fail we don't get much work done either. Unless, of course, you have a backup generator, satellite connection or cellular phone. I suspect that access to the cloud will soon fall into the access to any other grid.

  6. planecrash Says:

    Why I wouldn't just use a MacBook Air with a good browser is beyond me. Still unsure what this really offers that is not available with a laptop already, and it is not as if the entire OS resides online – there is still an OS on the hardware, therefore there is still a chance of things going wrong unrelated to the cloud, and yet fewer avenues to fix it yourself. Lastly, there is still (and will be for many years to come) the chance that you want to work on something you have, and it is not cached and on the Internet and you do not have Internet access.

    All in all, a big ? still.

    BTW, 85 + 25 = 110, not 100. Did you mean 75%? or 15%?

  7. SPM Says:

    You don't understand why computers work on day 1 but go wrong later do you? The reason is because configuration and settings get messed up, programs get installed, including malware, and viruses, files get corrupted, Chrome OS is different because it is stateless – in other words it does not contain any configuration or settings, and you don't install any programs on it. In other words nothing on the computer changes with time. Hence it performs exactly the same with every reboot as it did on the first day.

  8. planecrash Says:

    1st, you are assuming all configuration files are cloud based, and that is simply not the case, with cookies and lightweight DB stored locally. The state DOES change. How else does it know it's you? How else can it operate offline?
    There is Linux underlying it, and nothing preventing vectors for viri should they choose to come in.
    Lastly, if you have a known state on your MacBook Air, you choose to user the Apps you are happy with, and you run Google Chrome as your browser, my question still remains.

  9. Darth Vader Says:

    Apple Fanboi mentality surfacing. Haven't you considered the price yet? 999$ starting price for MacBook Air is NOT the same as 200-300$ Chrome OS netbook. Besides, there are people who just like simplicity and functionality out of the box.

    My parents are first to like Chrome OS. No administration, no configuration and absolutely no possibility of them screwing something up.

    And talking about the viruses for Chrome OS with underlying Linux. You have to be kidding me. Chrome has EVERY tab/process sandboxed. Even plugins such as PDF reader and Flash are sandboxed. All this running on top of the Linux in a separate and limited user account. Even if there is a security hole in the system itself, it's being updated automatically.

  10. planecrash Says:

    Wow, the insults are out.
    Currently, the CR-48 is $11,000, so I certainly would not go around stating prices.
    Running a sandboxed version of the Chrome browser, and autoupdates turned on, again, I'd rather have that.

  11. mtcoder Says:

    And a simple keystroke application your parents grabbed from the app store, renders their whole online life void. I agree it is simplistic, and "just works" but that market is extremely small and getting smaller everyday. Most 12 year olds know more about computer than most people over 30 could dream of learning. The big question which will remain, is why spend the money on this? If all I want is a web machine. I can grab a netbook for about 100 bucks, install chrome only, and get the exact same thing, + the option to do so much more, should chrome not offer it. You know for like when the kids send you that HD video they took with their camcorder and it uses a codex Chrome doesn't have installed.

    Also the whole sandbox thing is a nice attempt to fool people but sandbox doesn't mean secure, just means limited access to hardware and files. This is great till you want to create desktop type applications on the web, then guess what you need access to hardware and files.

    I see ChromeOS being merged into Android and rebranded. Would make much more sense, and actually give them solid ground to stand on.

  12. SMT Says:

    You are confusing Chrome OS with Windows running ActiveX – the app can't get hold of the keyboard driver because of the sand box – that is why it is called a sand box. In Windows/IE with ActiveX enabled, the ActiveX application has full access to what the user has. With a sandbox, access outside the browser sandbox is blocked, and with the Chrome OS and the Chrome browser, each browser window is also sand boxed from every other browser window as well.

    Limiting access to files and other resources to each websites sandbox isn't going to be a problem if you cache them locally within the sandbox for each website and/or store them online at the same website. The SD card can be accessed as I mentioned before for downloading/uploading stuff.

    One last thing. With regard to your comment about grabbing a $100 second hand netbook and installing Chrome browser – that is a perfectly valid and intended usage of Chrome – although you probably would want more power than a netbook if you want heavy apps. Want the whole lot – local storage, local Windows apps, Photoshop, heavy duty video editing, AutoCAD etc. you can have that too with Chrome – just install Chrome Browser on your Windows desktop or laptop, and you have the same interface, sandboxing, webapps with auto remote backup etc. plus the Windows apps, local storage etc. That's why Chrome (whether in its browser variant (Chrome Browser) or standalone variant (Chrome OS) will succeed. Google has got all the bases covered.

    Basically if you want a zero maintenance browser with lower cost long battery life Internet to go, all data backed up automatically on the cloud, then Chrome OS is for you. If you don't mind a high maintenance, short battery life system which will run Windows legacy apps, then you can install Chrome browser on your Windows laptop or desktop and get the same web apps and interface on a Windows PC or laptop.

    Chrome OS isn't going to replace all desktops or laptops, however it will replace some, particularly in the netbook, non-technical home user's computer, and enterprise thin clients. In the latter, Chrome OS can be used to access the corporate intranet/extranet, and can access a virtualised Windows PC instance running on a corporate server via the built-in Citrix client. It is also going to create new usage areas like embedded Internet access devices in TVs, set top boxes etc.

  13. Brandon Says:

    I agree with you 100%. The only way I can see Google succeeding with this is through price. Yes, I would much rather have a MacBook Air as my travel computer, but since I received this Cr-48 for free, I'm using that one while I'm on the road. I would much rather spend money on my desktop, so price for a net-mostly book is important. If they can price these things sub-200 dollars, I think they might find a market for them. I really, really, really want some kind of local storage on Chrome OS, though. If I can't backup files while I'm on the road, I can't *rely* on this computer.

  14. SPM Says:

    To planecrash:

    You are talking complete nonsense. Cookies are not configuration files, they are merely there to keep a record of state of things like basket content content, navigation etc. for a particular WEB SESSION, and NOT for the computer. This is no different than for example the browser storing the current URL of the webpage you are viewing in RAM. Cookies will not affect any other website than the one that set it, and cookies can be deleted at the end of each web session after which the state is returned to original state (hence stateless).

    To Brandon:

    Your argument is contrived and doesn’t make sense in the context of Chrome OS. You want to save backup files while on the road do you? Have you tried Google apps for example? That allows saving on files in the cloud, and what is more Google will automatically do several backups in different geographical locations for you at the same time. What is that I hear you say? you can’t save files if you can’t connect to the Internet? Well Chrome OS will save to a local cache with HTML5 web applications with offline capability (when Google gets this fully functional by mid 2011. You can also save on the local filesystem, but Google prefers you to use Google apps (see):
    “It’s a funny thing, though: there’s no user-accessible file browser or navigator, as far as I can tell. Chrome OS won’t show you the file system until the moment it absolutely needs to, like when you’re in a webmail app and click the button to attach a file. Then and only then will you encounter a fullscreen file picker.”

    The catch 22 in your argument is that if you are using an app that does not support offline use, you wouldn’t be able to use the app when not connected to the Internet, so why wouldn’t have anything to save anyway. As soon as you have reconnected and you can use the app you would be able to save to the cloud.

    You will no doubt fall back to the “what happens when I can’t access the Internet” argument. The answer to that is that with WiFi and 3G, remote areas and certain shielded locations apart, you can pretty well get Internet connections everywhere. With the inclusion of Native Client plug-ins in Chrome, it IS definitely possible to run full blooded third party local applications on Chrome OS, although such applications are sparse at the moment and Google being Google prefers you to use web apps.

    The main point here is that there are people for whom Chrome OS is unsuitable – for example someone who wants to type up long reports in a remote village in Afganistan, or someone who insists on using Photoshop to produce large format high resolution posters in CYMK offset color, or someone who wants to write an article while travelling in the subway. However, Chrome OS is not intended for those people.

    Chrome OS is intended for those of us who form the vast majority of computers users, who use the computer in one guise or another as a communication and sharing portal, and don’t want the hassle of having to configure a computer, install apps, install anti-virus or worry about malware, fix the computer when it gets corrupted, worry about making your own backups, worry about losing data as a result of stolen or lost computers – you know the ones who have a life beyond computers.

    Unfortunately, I think the blogs about Chrome OS are extremely biased to two user niches as most of the people who have applied for a Cr 48 and have been blogging about Chrome OS are either geeks, journalists, or wannabe journalists/geeks. They are precisely the usage case that doesn’t fit Chrome OS. Geeks want to waste time configuring computers to do everything technically possible, and fixing it when things go wrong – and what they really want is the antithesis of Chrome OS. Journalists are the type of people who do want to type out an article on the subway, or in the wilds of Afganistan, do stuff like video editing and Photoshop usage on large files, store large vedio files on hard drive and DVD ROM, and generate content rather than consume content – again the antithesis of Chrome OS usage.

  15. planecrash Says:

    Of course Chrome, like every OS, will have configuration files. You somehow think Linux needs no configuration files? And cookies are a lightweight database files, there is nothing preventing database corruption (can you say Windows registry) and there is nothing to stop you, on that same note, from deleting cookies for a particular site if you want to fix stuff (just like deleting a .plist file on the Mac OS X).
    Look, I am not here to start a battle with anyone, I am just stating that:
    a. I like having a laptop that is more than a dumb terminal, and
    b. Currently I see no inherent advantages, other than hopefully a cheaper price. But you are all deluding yourself if you think "CHrome OS is the messiah". Things go wrong, computers fail, corruption sets in, people find ways to hack – in EVERY OS, in EVERY setup. Is the promise nice? Well, maybe. But i would rather have a MacBook Air.

  16. SMT Says:

    You obviously don't understand what stateless means. Did I say Linux is stateless? Most Linuxes are stateful. It is possible to have a stateless Linux system – for example LTSP thin clients are stateless Linux systems, but other Linux desktops and servers are stateful. The meaning of stateless is that when it starts up, there is no configuration information stored in the machine (or at least very little as in for example the BIOS). Chrome OS stores its configuration on your google account in the cloud and not on the local machine and downloads it on logging in, so it is in the cloud not in the OS. If you lose your Chrome OS device, there is no data lost, you just buy a new one, boot up, log in and voila everything is there where you left off including your configuration. Configuration may well be cashed on the local machine, but as I explained data caching locally as with cookies is not local storage of configuration, as it is refreshed from the cloud/Internet when things change.

  17. planecrash Says:

    Actually, I do understand what stateless is.
    As people keep on pointing out, Chrome is designed to work offline. I assume start up offline as well. If it starts up offline, and still has your identity, then I am unsure how you can state (pun intended) that it will not store any configuration. And that would not be stored in the BIOS. WHile all your configurations may be backed up to the cloud as well, that does not mean they do not exist on your device.
    And it is cached, not cashed, and if done properly, it will be a synchronization not a refresh from the cloud. I'd hate to have the work I'd done locally when I did not have a connection erased as soon as I got a network connection.

    Look, we can disagree until we are blue in the face. I have been a software engineer for over 30 years, and that may make me really old and old-fashioned, but I know that ever available cloud is not there yet, and I stand by my statement that I have yet to see this as an answer to a problem we do not have. Maybe at some point in the future, when there truly is pervasive always available Internet (when it is delivered by satellite with no latency). Until then, I'll stick to a MacBook Air, and run Chrome if I want to.

  18. SMT Says:

    I find it difficult to believe that you are a software engineer with 30 years experience. I can't understand why you are trying to argue temporarily cached data and session cookies are local configuration settings. You will be arguing next that no devices can be called stateless because they all store data locally in RAM.

    By all means use Mac Air if you don't think Chrome OS is for you, but please stop talking complete bullshit.

    The configuration is not backed up on the cloud, it is stored there. The local copy of the configuration is used only if it proves impossible to connect to the Internet. It is replaced by the configuration that is stored on the cloud otherwise – the classic concept of caching.

    It is puzzling why you think your work will be erased when you get a network connection. The caching of application data is done in the other direction since the data is going the other way from the local machine to the cloud. That data isn't "configuration" and the fact that it is cached locally does not make it stateful either.

    Just think about what you are actually arguing for a moment. Stateless means that when you restart the device, it starts from the original state – it does NOT mean no data is stored locally during operation. If that were the case, then a stateless device would be impossible, because all electronic computers need to store at least temporary data (like cached data, swap files, and the contents of RAM) locally in order to operate, and the term "stateless would be nonsense.

    You also do not seem to understand the technology of AJAX/HTML5 which updates only the parts of a webpage that has changed, rather than the whole page as in the old HTML spec, and the use of caching has reduced latency to similar levels as local desktop applications. Just try Google Apps, the Zoho office suite or something similar and experience how responsive they are on a typical broadband or 3G Internet connection.

  19. Seriously Says:

    Ok. Think about what "you're" arguing.

    Quotes from you:
    "The local copy of the configuration is used only if it proves impossible to connect to the Internet."
    "Stateless means that when you restart the device, it starts from the original state "

    You've just said it's stateless… unless it can't connect to the internet. In other words, you're arguing it's stateless unless it isn't.

    Stateless means that it retains no information about what occurred on it previously. Obviously it does. It may be 'near' stateless, but it's not stateless.

    Stop arguing that it is and that other people don't understand something "you" obviously don't understand.

  20. Jumai Says:

    The reason web apps (Chrome OS) are not attractive for now is because they're as unexistent. Chrome OS is not even lunched yet. There aren't any browsers out there that fully support HTML5 standard yet either. Web apps is a concept that is still infant. Of course you don't want to give your stand alone computer apps that are mature to something like web apps, for now. You can't compare Ms Office to Google Docs, Adobe Photoshop to Aviery and so forth. With web apps, everything software has to be re-developed from scratch. It takes time, and a lot of work, and marketing, and mistakes but we're going that way. 2011 is not going to do much for the end user in that direction, but 2012 is going to be a huge year for web apps.

  21. Devin Patrick Gaughan Says:

    Love my CR-48 for schoolwork. Battery lasts seemingly forever if you don't use it to watch hours and hours of video online. But, speaking of video, flash videos are a bit choppy on it. I have been using mine as a means to get up away from my desktop PC and do work other places. I've also been using its battery to charge my phone when away from an outlet.

    Granted, all of these things can be done with a standard laptop, I think security and speed are big pluses for this little machine. However, as many others have said, desktop apps and local storage still beats out a completely online experience.

    But like I said before, the battery duration is my favorite part of the CR-48.

  22. Darth Vader Says:

    For bad Flash performance you can thank Adobe. Their Flash plugin for Linux is nothing but an excuse. I only hope they will realize how stupid and lazy they are and optimize instead of bragging about being cross-platform.

  23. planecrash Says:

    From what I understand Google is rolling their own Flash plug-in for Chrome

  24. Ricardo Santos Says:

    It seem to me that we are going back to the era of mainframes and dumb terminals.

    I do not mind putting my documents online if they where encrypted but since they are not and Google does not have the best privacy record around (not to mention the actitude of the CEO, telling everyone that if you do not want something to be known, you should not do it in the first place).

    Add political lack of freedom of speech and the increase of government control over the Internet (allowing them to have access and disappear your documents if you not agree with their point of view). And you get the idea why marrying to a 100% Internet computer is a fatal idea.

  25. Jeff Says:

    I dont know, let me think….trusting Google with my private information…hmmm…that is like trusting the US Federal Government with my money which equals a bad idea. I dont care how much they say its encrypted, they know how to decrypt it and farm it. Give me a real OS any day.

  26. Don Juan Says:

    Give you a real OS with spyware, malware and other stuff. Not to mention Micorosft Alexa, built in with XP and probably the later. Being paranoid doesn't help you much. In fact, banks know more about you than Google. Do you really think Google cares if you watch porn, play games or do whatever you do online. Name ONE case where you heard Google exploited users data.

    On the other hand, banks know where you shop, when you watch movies, what restaurants you like. They have you social security number and other private information. Basically they can trace EVER single step you made since you took your credit card and I don't hear you complaining about that.

    Just like with credit cards, bunch of paranoid people will complain until they give in for obvious benefits.

  27. SMT Says:

    A lot of people are worried about big brother, and in particular bad brother (government), and this includes myself. However the fact is that if you use the Internet, search engines at all, you are are going to leave footprints that are traceable to yourself. If privacy worries you, don't put any private data on your Chrome OS machine – just use it for Internet browsing only, and keep a separate PC preferable running a secure OS like a properly configured Linux for your private stuff.

    It would be an interesting idea if someone put a Linux or Windows virtual machine running inside Chrome OS and firewall the system so that Linux/Windows would not be able to access the Internet except when you decide to allow updates, and could only be accessed by the local Citrix (or RDP or NX/SPICE) client. This way you would be able to run Internet browser sessions and local desktop sessions via the Chrome OS display, but the Linux/Windows virtual machine would be isolated from the Internet. Of course Google won't do this because they want your data added to their database, but since Chrome OS is opensource, there is no reason why someone else cannot.

  28. SMT Says:

    Just to add to that, there are some people who are concerned about privacy, but judging from the number of people who join Facebook, despite the many privacy scares and exposees, the majority don't seem to care. I don't think this will impact on Chrome OS's success.

  29. Earl Says:

    What about when Google decides not to play nice within your local area? Such as scenarios like

    Amazon.com drops Colorado retailers after tax law enacted

    Read more: Amazon.com drops Colorado retailers after tax law enacted – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_14637785#ix
    Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content: http://www.denverpost.com/termsofuse


    Google Cuts Facebook Off from Contact Data http://www.switched.com/2010/11/05/google-contact


    Google Suspends AppNexus From Real Time Ad Exchange | Peter Kafka … http://mediamemo.allthingsd.com/20101130/google-c


    Google says search cut off from mainland China http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/jul/29/go

    What about when they decide they don't want to give you access anymore because you said Google was evil or something they did not like?

    Personally I do not trust all of my data being maintained by someone other than me.

  30. Dave Says:

    3 reasons why cloud-computing (only) would not work for ME:

    I just transferred 1 GB of photos off of my SD card so that I can use my camera. I don't want to wait while I try to upload that 1 GB to the cloud so that I can use my camera.

    I take my laptop to my inlaw's place….they do not *GASP* have internet access, so that means with cloud-apps only, I would not be able to use my laptop there or a number of similar places. Even at work, I'm not allowed to plug-in to the local network, so my laptop would be useless.

    Access can kind of be solved by having a mobile internet key, but here in Canada, I would be very poor very quickly. Most plans come with 500MB or 1GB of data transfer. Just handling my vacation photos would cost me a fortune. Even if the online software were free, it would cost me a fortune in data transfer fees.

  31. SMT Says:

    1) Uploading shouldn't really stop you taking photos since Chrome OS is multi-tasking.
    2) It shouldn't take you as long as your laptop did to upload 1GB of photos since every photo will be uploaded as soon as it is taken rather than waiting for 1GB to accumulate as with your laptop.
    3) You won't have the problems connecting to the Internet with Cr 48 that you had with your laptop, because WiFi and 3G built into Cr 48.
    4) I can't think of an office where if they provided you with a laptop or a Cr 48, they would not provide you with Internet connection. It is difficult to actually find anyone today who would find any value to a computer if you didn't connect it to the Internet. If on the other hand you are trying to use your own personal laptop, then maybe you are not allowed to connect because they don't want you downloading music or surfing porn at work. It is a decision made by your network administrator, not by the hardware. The Cr 48 is user testing hardware, and I think that an Ethernet socket has been left off because Google wanted to force users to test WiFi and 3G connectivity issues. I think the production version will have an Ethernet socket as this is probably a requirement for many enterprises where it would be used as a thin client. The bottom line is that you would be stuck at work with your laptop not being able to connect. In the case of Cr 48 you should be fine because of WiFi plus 3G (unless of course you are in some real remote area where you don't have either).
    5) Re. cost, you don't need to use 3G if you don't want to. You could set up or get someone set up a WiFi router at the office/home, so you can wonder freely around home or office and use it to connect to your LAN with no data cost, and keep the 3G in reserve for emergencies. You can also use WiFi at many airports, restaurants, hotels, on trains, aircraft etc. for a small subscription charge.

    don't need an Internet connection to use Cr 48

  32. mtcoder Says:

    bingo, that is one of my key issues with it. Not everywhere has this global wi-fi that people keep talking about. Must be nice to live where wi-fi is everywhere. Not I live in a metroplis area of about 400k people in a small area. Not like I live in nowhereville. Yeah so when traveling this thing will have to use 3G, and as stated that is super expensive, its one thing to browse a few mobile applications, or a couple of sites, but start trying to save your online documents, pictures, etc and you quickly suck up data plans. This thing is going to get expensive in monthly charges. Meanwhile my cheap laptop / netbook, can do all the work I want to get done, and when I am at the hotel, or home with my broadband, I can plug it in and transfer data to the cloud. This past week, we had a snow storm that knocked out my internet, power and tv. Not a problem we all fired up our laptops, and played games and watched dvds on our laptops. I have a solar charger for my laptops, and got to play and watch dvds.
    Now yes this is an extreme case when chrome OS doesn't work, but it's more common than you think, and it means me and my family wont buy one more less 3 like the 3 laptops I own.

    Also clouds go down, sorry but redundant / backed up / geolocated blah blah blah. They still go down, a DDOS attack to a local switch and you won't reach your apps. Heck my local cable provider lost its DNS hub for 2 days, and I had to use IP addresses for everything. Guess what most applications didn't work cause they used URLs instead of IPs. Now granted I did remap to a different DNS provider for the long term outage. The point though is the web and your connection to it is super fragile, except for parts of the US where there isn't a starbucks on every corner.

  33. SMT Says:

    Depends where you are living. The Internet very rarely goes down for me even at home, and when it does go down, the a desktop or laptop computer is also pretty useless anyway, because I use it almost entirely for accessing the Internet.

    If you live in an area with poor connectivity, you can still use Chrome OS to connect to a desktop session on a home Linux desktop using Citrix (or ssh with X tunneling, NX or SPICE protocol of Google include it), since your WiFi will not go down with the Internet. Since Linux is a multi user OS, you can run a session on it while someone else is using the Linux desktop PC, and you can do it from anywhere. You won't be able to access the Internet while it is down, but you won't with a laptop or desktop either.

    In my office we use two ISPs – one cable, one ADSL for redundancy. This has actually proven more reliable that hosting data on our own servers (we can't afford state of the art server redundancy and the IT team to manage it). When our servers go down, we have no access to the data. With Google apps, it is dependent on both ISPs not going down at the same time, but it isn't dependent on one server. The company intranet server should of course be accessible through Chrome OS even with the Internet inaccessible, and data is stored on there would be accessible without the Internet. The same would be true for virtual desktop machines that you run on the LAN connected servers, so you are not really unable to access anything with laptops/desktops that you wouldn't be able to with Chrome OS. For example, you can set up you Google account to send a copy of all emails to your account on a corporate email server, and in case of Internet failure, you can access you mailbox on the corporate email server via an HTML webmail interface on the intranet. This also gives you additional redundancy although not privacy from Google/government. Having said that, we are not a high security risk, and I am not too bothered about privacy of my company's data from the prying eyes of government/Google, although I would be more concerned about privacy of my personal data on my home computer.

  34. Dave Says:

    One thing it will definitely need is a streaming game service like Onlive and streaming netflix. It could work, but it still seems too limited to me. What are it's capabilities when not connected to the internet?

  35. Cardon Says:

    What they need to do to fix the problem with uploading is store them in some sort of temp area on the computer and upload the files from there, this is regarding the pictures. I am not sure about your guys internet connections but mine is great as far as download speeds go, when I am running Linux I can get a stable 2MB/S, but my upload speeds is nothing compared to that, it is only 120KB/S Uploading straight from an SD card or some other such device would be a real pain and would make it so I couldn't go off and use it for other such things.

    Now if it did just moved the files to a temp location that we can't manually access or see and then upload the files that would be great, I would get to wait a whole 30 seconds, pull out my device and start using it again while it uploads from the locally stored location and after words it can't delete the files.

    Chrome OS is a good idea and definitely has some targeted customer base which I would like to think based off my experience is pretty large. I told my grandparents about the Cr-48 and went about a lengthy explanation that they probably don't understand but they loved the idea. My grandparents are both teachers at Colleges and they don't use any local based software to my knowledge it is all web based, but they had to have me setup their netbook because they didn't quite understand such things. Their netbook runs XP, I told them the password to our wifi but they told me they couldn't even find where to put the password in. You have to click advanced settings, highlight the internet connection and hit the properties button, from there you need to but the password in twice without the option to view the character keys which is problematic for long passwords, and then you need to disable verification through certificate, not even the average 12-18 year old kid who is not tech savvy but isn't a numskull won't know this.

    Me I think the Chrome OS is a good idea, they just need to make sure the pricing is right, I wouldn't spend maybe more the 250 USD on a Chrome OS based netbook and I will probably get one for my grandparents when it finally comes out.

  36. Cardon Says:

    Sorry should have reread it more throughly, I missed a lot of mistakes.
    can delete the files*

  37. whatever Says:

    The transition from local storage to cloud based storage is probably like the transition from paper to computers. Many people don't like transitioning from paper to computers because the information is in a mysterious place on their computer (or network) instead of tucked away safely in a file cabinet.

    Young people will make the transition quite quickly while those stuck in the past will remain there. There is nothing really wrong with either course – stuff changes. So what?

  38. Marc Says:

    Cloud Computing is a media term, a bit like Web 2.0. I used Yahoo Mail back in 1998 but didn't call it cloud computing.

    Either way, I think you need to separate out the storage of data in the cloud from the hosting of applications in the cloud. Having your data available anywhere is one thing (and really useful as anyone who uses Dropbox or Live Mesh will know) having your applications based in a web browser can be useful, but it depends what those applications are.

    Web sites like Facebook and Gmail are useful in the browser, because from a UI perspective they are simple and offer the user a small set of carefully chosen things they can do. More complicated interfaces like Photoshop aren't that well suited to the browser, and even if they were, those applications need to do a lot of processing on large amounts of data very often. You have to ask, would porting such an application to the web (the full thing, not a cut down version) be simply an academic exercise to see if its possible, and it would it be in the user's best interest?

    I think the future is hybrid, although I can certainly see benefits of a cloud only future, I just can't see the industry reverting to what is in reality a time-share system any time soon.

  39. SMT Says:

    Actually, in a lot of large enterprises, the move is towards moving all applications to server based applications hosted on corporate servers in the corporate intranet/extranet, and away from desktop applications (as opposed to external cloud providers). This is certainly true for corporate administration, document control, webmail, enterprise data and invoicing and accounting functions. Chrome OS is ideal for this.

    Schools, libraries, and public access desktops are also ideal for Chrome OS. You want Internet access, access to webmail and low maintenance and you certainly don't want people tampering with settings or installing stuff – These applications could have been made for Chrome OS.

    There is also a trend in enterprises towards virtualizing desktops and desktop apps on servers and accessing them via Citrix. Chrome OS with its Citrix client is ideal for this.

    A lot of small firms are using cloud apps like Google Apps, Zoho apps etc. because the savings in maintenance costs are so pervasive. Privacy issues? Who cares – it is your company data, not personal information that gets put on Google Apps. If they use the cloud anyway, then Chrome OS may replace most (but probably not all) the desktop PCs in the office.

  40. Parrotlover77 Says:

    You are not a luddite for thinking that web-only computing is not a workable solution. Chances are it will never be. This is absolutely no different than the mainframe+terminal versus Server+Workstation debate of the late 80s/early 90s. Guess which one won? Neither! Mainframes became the cloud, terminals became remote desktops, servers became virutalized, and individual workstations have more computing power than mainframes did back then.

    I think any time you restrict yourself to 100% centralized or 100% distributed, you lose something. The "cloud" is the current fad word for the same debate that's been going on for years.

    I'm sure ChromeOS will find some sort of niche. Whether its enough to justify its existence (as opposed to be rolled into Android or something) remains to be seen.

    But when the dust settles, I can promies you one thing: most people will still have workstations (PCs) with local software installed, and most people will also use software provided from a remote location, run through a local graphical terminal on that workstation.

    Same as it ever was…

  41. roi ko rikisulda Says:

    the day all our data goes online is a day that we lose our privacy forever.