Google’s Chrome OS: The perfect idea that the world isn’t ready for

The original Google Chromebook. (CR-48)The world of technology is fast paced. We live on an exponential curve that moves at an ever increasing rate. At times, though, technology moves too fast and our infrastructure and society isn’t ready for it. One of these magnificent technological ideas is Google’s Chrome OS.

A Linux based operating system designed by Google, Chrome OS, was launched in 2009 and was presented as a way to easily and quickly work with the web. The OS itself is minimal in both design and function; put simply, it’s a quick boot version of the Chrome web browser. The majority of downloads in the Chrome Web Store are web apps, which are akin to creating bookmark links. Chrome OS admittedly does feature packaged applications that act more like traditional apps, as these pieces of software can access APIs and services that simpler web apps don’t have access to. However, many users of the operating system will quickly find that few native applications are included.

You might be thinking that a world without applications doesn’t seem like the future and, at first glance, a computer with nothing except a web browser is limiting. In part, you are right. Many of your favorite applications like Skype, Spotify, full featured email clients, and more are missing in action. Sure, you can find a way to side step the issue; use alternative clients for Skyping that might not support HD streams, use Spotify’s beta web player without the ability to sync music offline, jump between tabs if you have multiple email accounts with different services, etc.

I’m making Chrome OS seem like one of the worst operating systems out there, for gosh sake – I might be making Windows Vista sound like a viable option at this point! How on Earth can Google’s Chrome OS be a magnificent technological idea? Well, it might not be the operating system that is the marvel as much as it is the idea of a full web based computer and living in the cloud.

With multiple devices, the availability of online media content providers, and always cheapening online cloud storage solutions, we are destined for a life in the cloud. The idea of living in the cloud and living our virtual lives through one application, the web browser, could seem like a dream. Now though, is not the time.

To live in the cloud, all of our favorite services have to move their client applications there first. While a trickle of applications and features for some mobile devices are sustainable, we expect our personal computer to deliver the full experience.

Let’s not forget that Chrome OS is also an online experience, meaning that when the signal drops, so do you. While Google would like us to believe turning off the internet is the end of civilization as we know it, many people continue to work “offline.” An always-on 4G LTE data plan might be the solution, but not at network carrier prices today.

We will all one day be ready for the Google’s Chrome OS experience, but until our favorite services make their “web apps” equivalent to their desktop clients and the world’s beloved carriers drop their 4G LTE pricing, I believe most of us will be sticking with Windows or OS X (and of course that one guy in the office who won’t give up on Linux).

What do you think – are you using a Chromebook? When will we be ready for a world completely devoted to the cloud?

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Michael Archambault

Michael Archambault was an associate editor at Pocketables. He is a coder, a thinker, and a dreamer who lives on the "Microsoft side of life." His current gadget arsenal includes a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon with Windows 8, Nokia Lumia 900 with Windows Phone 7.8 OS, and a Microsoft Surface RT.

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