I recently downloaded a VMware image of Google's latest "operating system", Google Chrome OS. Okay, so I took the easy route. But someone else did the hard work for me, but I read the original installation instructions. So here are some first impressions.
First off, it reminds me a lot of what Windows 95 was. Windows 95 was a spruced up Windows 3.1 relying on a MS-DOS background shell. Chrome OS seems to be just a Linux-core operating system, which automatically opens the Google Chrome browser and won't let you leave. Right now it feels like there's nothing extra to Google Chrome OS that you don't already have with Chrome for Windows, other than the speedy boot up. Well yeah, if you did the same for Windows, cut out everything, I'm sure it would be a speed demon.
So my thoughts are... this "operating system" is almost just like an old fashioned Dumb Terminals, you know, a computer screen with a keyboard that receives its instructions from another computer on what to do. Chrome OS is obviously not for anyone who wants to use a computer for what computers are good for doing, and that is having a multi-purpose. Yes, I supposed there's an audience out there that all they really want to do is access the Internet. But what about pictures? What about home videos? What about iPod's? All new computer users eventually get sophisticated enough that they really start doing more than just E-mail and the Internet. That audience still exists, but they're shrinking, not growing.
So, initial reaction.... Not too impressed. I will wait for those extra 20-30 seconds for my OS to boot if it means I can edit videos, or go through stuff I've downloaded and watch or listen to it without waiting for it to stream. And even streams, if my Internet connection goes down (and it does a lot, stupid cable modem) that means it interrupts whatever it is that I'm doing at the time.
Also, what happens when I bring my computer to an Airport, where they charge for internet access? I can't even bypass the login screen because you're going to try to verify my Google account, and theyre going to be too busy trying to force me to a splash page so they can sell me their internet services. What happens when I'm trying to work on a plane? Will Google Gears work well enough to remember enough features of Google Docs to let me work?
So, with all that being said, Chrome OS has a lot of work to do to convince computer hobbyists like myself to make the jump.