On Tuesday, Google previewed its new Chrome operating system, which may pave the way for a new kind of personal computing. Chrome does not store files, applications, and other data on a computer's hard drive, but on online servers — aka "the cloud" — potentially eliminating the need for a traditional hard drive. Although Chrome won't be available to run on most laptops until 2011, Google has started a pilot program, releasing a minimalist netbook called the CR-48, that runs on the new OS. Is Chrome more hype than substance? (Watch a Google Chrome OS intro)
This could be a pivotal innovation: Right now, the Chrome OS has to "rely heavily on third parties to fill in its functionality gaps," says Jason Kincaid in Tech Crunch, but once those issues are addressed, Chrome "is going to be a big deal." It could even "eventually become a viable alternative to Microsoft Windows in the workplace."
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It's great — if you live in the First World: There are many problems with the Google Chrome OS, says Nick Jones in Silicon.com. For one thing, it's arriving late. And Google's lackluster marketing is likely to leave potential users "confused." Mostly, Chrome is too "narrow-minded" and aimed exclusively at "Western mature" markets with the fastest internet access. This means that customers in "emerging markets with poor connectivity won't be able to play in the Chrome world."
"I wish I was more impressed by Chrome OS"
Forget the First World. You need to live on the internet to use it: Given all its limitations, "I don't expect using the Chrome OS to be a revolutionary experience," says Edward N. Albro in PC World. The apps that come with the operating system are overly simple, and "there's no obvious organization for where files are kept." Plus, most fundamentally, "if you're not connected to the Internet on this laptop, you're dead in the water."
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