Chrome OS is basically an operating system designed to run one app — a web browser. Google has been working on Chrome OS for the past year, and the goal is to develop a light weight OS that boots quickly and gets you online almost right away. Instead of installing native apps, you’ll run web apps and Google is expected to launch a sort of app store, where you can find web apps to integrated with the browser-based operating system.
I’m still not entirely convinced that Google is building a product that anyone actually wants or needs here. If you think about it, a browser-based OS fits very nicely with Google’s view of the world, which is that you can accomplish most tasks online and that search is the killer app. Chrome, Android, and other software Google has developed over the past few years have been designed to be useful, certainly, but they’ve also been designed to get more advertising in front of your face, which is how Google makes money.
But here’s the thing: I can’t really think of a single thing that a Chrome OS netbook would be able to offer that a machine running Windows, OS X, Linux, or even Android couldn’t offer just as well — and all of those operating systems are just as useful when you have to cut the internet connection to get on a plane as they are when you’re surfing the web on your home network.
That said, Google may have a few tricks up its sleeve I haven’t thought about. For instance, I know Google has been working on a system to let you connect to printers over the web using Chrome OS. And a desktop operating system that offers long battery life and something approaching instant-on capabilities might be nice. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw many of the developments made for Chrome eventually find their way to Android where they’ll be used by more people.
Of course, I could be wrong. What do you think? Are you ready for a Chrome OS netbook?