So I took the plunge and installed Chrome OS on a virtual machine on my Windows 7 laptop. I used Sun’s free VirtualBox virtualization software and the downloadable version of Chrome OS hosted by Gdgt. Actually, when I used the Gdgt download in the form of a VirtualBox image, I couldn’t get it to boot–so I tried again with the VMWare download (also compatible with VirtualBox) and all went well.
Except for one thing: There’s very little reason to check out Chrome OS just now. What you get is a somewhat stale version of the OS that has features that don’t work unless you have an e-mail address at Google. And the version of the OS you get is pretty much Chrome-the-browser with a few differences in terms of window management, plus OS-related fripperies like a battery gauge. And some fripperies are still missing, such as the ability to power down the OS. (Fair enough–at yesterday’s press event, Google warned us that Chrome OS was still subject to lots of change before it shows up on netbooks about a year from now.)
Of course, even in its final form, Chrome OS won’t be much more than a browser with enough underpinnings to qualify as an operating system. That’s the whole idea. But we’ll need something closer to the final version before it’s reasonable to start critiquing the OS. And while a virtual machine is a great way to try Chrome OS with a minimum of hassle, it’s a lousy way to get a sense of what it’ll be like in the real world. You want to run this thing on a machine where it’s your one and only OS, and you can’t cheerfully <Alt><Tab> back into Windows the moment you discover something you can’t do in Chrome. Which is why I’m still intrigued by the idea of getting it up and running on my Asus EeePC 1000HE.
Anyone else out there given Chrome OS a try yet?