Tag Archives | Google Chrome OS

Chrome OS: Hacked!

Well, somebody’s finally done it. Google’s been selling us for quite a while on just how secure Chrome is, and they haven’t really lied to us. Getting into the OS or the browser for that matter has proved pretty darn difficult. But at the Black Hat security conference two researchers with White Hat Security have gotten into Chrome OS.

The flaw is in ScratchPad, a Chrome app that allows users to compose text files and then save them to Google Docs. Through it, the attacker can gain access to a person’s e-mail, contacts, and Google Docs and Voice accounts. Give Google some credit here though, the two redarchers working on this — Matt Johanson and Kyle Osborn — said they spent months looking for a hole, and must have only found one now.

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I Tried to Love Samsung’s Chromebook. I Failed

Last Thursday morning, as I packed for a three-day trip to San Diego for Comic-Con, I couldn’t decide whether to take my trusty first-generation MacBook Air, or use the trip as an excuse to review Samsung’s Series 5 Chromebook, which I’d just received. So I didn’t decide–I took both.

And then, once I’d arrived at the airport, I realized that I’d forgotten to bring the Air’s AC adapter. The Blogging Gods clearly wanted me to try the Series 5, one of the first commercially-available devices that runs Google’s Chrome OS.

The notion of using a laptop purely as a window to the Web–which is the Chrome OS proposition–isn’t inherently unappealing to me. (In fact, I tried to do just that back in 2008, in a project I called Operation Foxbook, long before Google announced Chrome OS.) Using Google’s first Chromebook, last year’s experimental CR-48, had left me more skeptical about Chrome OS rather than less so. But I still want to be impressed with a truly Web-centric computing device. Sadly, my time with the Series 5 at Comic-Con was frustrating in multiple ways. Google and its hardware partners are selling Chromebooks to the public at prices which aren’t lower than those for similar Windows laptops, but the Series 5, like the CR-48,still feels like an experiment.

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Chromebooks: Not Flops!

It’s been exactly one month since the first Chromebooks–netbooks powered by Google’s Chrome OS–became available for purchase, and so far, sales seem to be holding up.

Over at CNet, Brooke Crothers checked Amazon’s list of best-selling laptops, and found the number four spot occupied by Acer’s 11.6-inch, $349 Chromebook. (It’s in fifth place as I type). Only Apple’s MacBook Pro and a pair of Toshiba laptops ranked higher. Samsung’s Series 5, a 12.1-inch Chromebook with built-in 3G service for $499, is ranked 10th.

Amazon’s sales charts don’t necessarily signify that Chromebooks are a hit. There are lots of other places to buy laptops, and PC makers tend to sell many different models, reducing the chances that any particular one will dominate. But the chart does at least prove that Chromebooks aren’t a failure. People are actually buying them.

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The Case Against the Chromebook

Mobile Opportunity’s Michael Mace has a wonderfully hard-nosed post up about Chromebooks and Google Docs and why he thinks that Chrome OS isn’t remotely ready to take on Windows:

In fairness, there are some things Google Docs is great at.  It’s fantastic for collaborative editing; using Docs plus a Skype session can be a thing of beauty for brainstorming and working through a list of action items.  But as a replacement for Office, the apps are so limited that using them is like watching a Jerry Lewis movie: you keep asking yourself, “why is this happening?”  I tried very hard to use Google Docs as the productivity software for my startup, and eventually I gave up when it became clear that it was actually destroying my productivity.


Are Chromebooks from the Past or the Future? I Still Can’t Tell

A year and three-quarters ago, Google announced that it was working on Chrome OS, an operating system that was just a browser (or, if you prefer, a browser that had evolved into an operating system). That was a long, long time ago. In mid-2009, netbooks were trendy. The iPad didn’t exist. Android was merely a phone operating system, and one that was still just getting started at that.

This operating system thing turned out to be tricky: Chrome OS-based computers were supposed to hit the market by the end of 2010, but the schedule slipped, so the only one that met that deadline was Google’s own experimental CR-48. At today’s Google I|O keynote, however, Google laid out the basic info of the first two “Chromebooks” (a term I’ve been using for awhile and which Google is now championing) that will go on sale.

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Google I/O Keynote #2: Join Me Live This Morning

At yesterday’s Google I/O keynote, the company announced Android Honeycomb 3.1, another upcoming Android version code-named Ice Cream Sandwich, a home-networking platform called Android @ Home, a system for building peripherals compatible with all Android devices, a plan to deal with Android fragmentation, a movie service, a music service, and several things I’m forgetting about right now. But there’s more news to come–presumably including non-Android developments like Chrome OS netbooks you can rent for twenty bucks a month–at this morning’s second-day keynote. I’ll be covering it live from San Francisco’s Moscone Center, with guest color commentary from Techland’s Doug Aamoth. You can join us at technologizer.com/googlekeynote2, and I hope you will.

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Chrome OS Notebooks: By Subscription?

Cr-48 notebookNeowin reports an intriguing rumor: When the first batch of Google’s Chrome OS notebooks launch in June or July, customers will be able to lease them for $10 to $20 per month.

The Chrome OS subscription, as Neowin calls it, would entitle the user to free hardware upgrades, as well as replacement units if anything goes wrong. Full-priced laptops would also be available, and the Chrome OS notebooks would reportedly be distributed “in a fashion similar to the way Android is distributed,” which I assume means through wireless carriers and retail stores.

Neowin’s report is based on a single, unnamed source, and it’s wacky enough to consider with an ounce of skepticism. But it’s also rather plausible.

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The Cost of Chrome OS: How About $250 or Less?

When I wrote about Google’s experimental CR-48 Chrome OS notebook last December, I guessed that it might cost about $449 if it were a commercial product. That seemed high for a device that was entirely dedicated to accessing the Web (and nearly useless when you couldn’t get online). And a bunch of people told me my guestimate was too high.

Months later, nobody has announced any detail on the Chrome OS machines which will supposedly be shipping in just a few months. But there are rumors–courtesy of rumor kingpin Digitimes–that Asus has plans to release a netbook for $200-$250 in June. One that might conceivably run Chrome OS. (I say “might conceivably” because Digitimes’ sources say that Asus “should” use either Chrome OS or Android on the machine–which is a whole lot vaguer than saying that Asus will use either one of those operating systems.)

Could Asus sell a decent Chrome OS laptop with an 12.1″ screen and built-in wireless broadband for $250 or less? That sounds aggressive to me. But if they can manage it, the deal sounds a whole lot more appealing than the $449 Chromebook I envisioned. And if they can sell a clamshell device at that pricetag, couldn’t they whack off the keyboard, add an on-screen one, and have a plausible low-end tablet?





Cloud Save: The Chrome Extension That Shouldn’t Be an Extension

I consider myself optimistic about Google’s vision for completely web-based computing, but it’s not going to happen without an online storage solution that can replace the act of saving files locally.

Cloud Save, a new extension for Google’s Chrome browser (spotted first by DownloadSquad), takes us part way there. The extension adds an option in Chrome’s right click menu that lets you save files directly to online storage services such as Box.net, Flickr and Google Docs. You grant permission for Cloud Save to access each of these services the first time you save to them, and a notification box pops up when your file has saved successfully.

On the most basic level, Cloud Save eliminates a step if you’re trying to move a web file to an online service. If someone sends you a funny picture, for instance, you just Cloud Save it instead of downloading and then uploading. But by skipping that step, Cloud Save also bypasses the need for local storage when saving files from the web. It’s the kind of feature that Google should bake directly into Google’s Chrome OS, the web-based operating system that will launch in notebooks later this year.

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