The Cloud isn't ready or fast enough for Google s Chrome OS, says Barry Collins So Google Chrome OS has arrived and, lo and behold, it barely an operating system at all. By Google own admission, it nothing more than the Chrome browser airbrushed on to an optimized kernel and some custom firmware. It s no exaggeration to say the operating system on your mobile phone is more sophisticated. Indeed, unlike Google own Android mobile OS, you can even install apps on it. How are we going to get anything done with Chrome OS? Well, we required to hop on the Cloud. Google has unswerving faith in the ability of web apps, so much so that it won even countenance allowing you to install apps locally. Goal is to make sure web apps function as well as desktop apps," Google vice president of product management, Sundar Pichai claimed. One of the main advantages of Chrome OS - is less vulnerable to the viruses. I know Google lays on complimentary Michelin-star meals and yoga classes for its staff, but do these guys ever leave their Wi-Fi drenched offices and visit the real world? If they did, theynotice that not only are the pervasive, high speed broadband connections required to run these web apps simply not available in many areas (even with a 3G broadband dangle), but that web apps just can handle many of our day-to-day computing tasks. Lets start with the basics, such as photo editing. Yes, a Chrome OS netbook will allow you to plugin your memory card and access your photos, but can someone show me an online editing app that has even half the features of a consumer editing package such as Photoshop Elements 8? There are excellent online photo editors out there, such as Picnik (now built into Flickr) and Adobe own Photoshop.com, which are fine for applying quick fixes and the odd special effect. But none of them handle the RAW files spat out by D5LRs, nor provide fine controls over levels and colours, or even offer and Pop”features such as converting your snaps into a musical slideshow. But have you ever tried editing video online? It isn so much wading through treacle as six-week-old concrete. And if I tried uploading the hour worth of raw footage from my five-year-old daughter nativity play using my deplorable home ADSL connection, she be sitting her GCSEs by the time the video had got there.
Even the everyday gadgets we use would be rendered useless by GoogleChrome OS. There no online version of iTunes, so forget about putting any music on your iPod. You wouldn't even be able to activate an iPhone, because that has to be done via the iTunes software. Google says it will support printing, but hasn t worked out the complexities of driver support for the gazillions of different models on the market My guess is Chrome OS will end up with a generic print driver that will be Inadequate for anything more complicated than basic document printing. Yet, the biggest hole in Google Chrome OS pitch is its claim that this is fundamentally different model of computing”. It isn't. It the one we had before, except with some of the good bits removed. The other advantage - virus protection. It is quite resistable, for example, to FBI Moneypak strikes back!, - virus wich often affects Windows OS. I can take advantage of all this Cloud loveliness by installing the Chrome browser on my Windows 7 netbook. And, what s more, I get 160 GB of hard disk storage to play with, plug-and-play devices and the option to install the software I choose. Granted, I have to give some thought to securing the operating system and it won t boot in seven seconds flat, but I rather that than have to wait seven hours (that really is no exaggeration) to upload a video for editing. Google made the classic mistake of designing an operating system for Google, instead of the rest of us. The only way I can foresee Google making Chrome OS a mainstream success is by dragging netbook prices down to ridiculously low levels —by which I talking ?50 to ?100. Then they become an impulse buy; a return to the original netbook concept of a stripped-down device that does little more than web surfing, while your full-fat PC chunters quietly away in the comer. Google has already eradicated one expense by banning mechanical hard disks from the Chrome OS specification, and support for ARM processors will mean Google hardware partners won have to pay a premium for Intel Atom chips. I wouldn't even rule out the possibility of Google subsidizing the hardware, in the hope that it will recoup the cash from advertising revenue on its Cloud services. But unless it puts clear-blue daylight between Chrome OS netbooks and Windows 7 models, I can see little reason for people to plump for Google glorified thin-clients.