After much frenzy and fanfare surrounding Google’s plans to develop a new Operating System (OS), the Chrome OS preview was finally released on November 19, 2009.  The preview was eagerly awaited by millions of tech enthusiasts as it would have provided a new alternative to Microsoft’s stranglehold over the OS markets.

The Google Chrome OS won’t work on the normal platform which we use everyday. The Google Chrome OS will run only on net books and tablets and will consist of scaled-down systems requiring only Wi-Fi and USB connectivity.  This means that your computer will no longer contain unwanted gizmos (according to Google) like your hard-drive; instead they will have Solid States Disks which are extremely quick, and keyboards.  The Chrome is designed to operate entirely off of the Internet. That means you won’t store data or run programs on the computer itself, rather, everything will be Web-driven.  However, application developers may be able to build in a small amount of offline functionality for their programs.

What are the advantages? Most definitely speed.  The Chrome OS can boot within as little as three seconds. That speed is a large reason why Google touts the Chrome OS experience as more like using a TV than using a computer.  Security is another. Since you won’t be able to save data locally, the odds of contracting a virus are rare.  Additionally, the Chrome OS won’t even grant access to the application programs wanting to make changes in the OS.  The OS will continually update itself and correct any corrupted modules automatically. The critical pieces of the OS will also be stored in read-only memory also known as (ROM).  Additionally, you don’t need to worry about backing up your data as all your data is saved over the internet. Most importantly, the OS is open source so anyone can customize the codes to their own needs.

Well, the Chrome OS has its drawbacks.  Firstly, Google’s assumption that everyone in the world will have an internet connection doesn’t hold ground.  There are innumerable countries unlike the U.S. which don’t have an internet connection, let alone Wi-Fi.  Google needs to prioritize which consumer segment they will be targeting.  If they are targeting the end consumers they are definitely missing a point.  It won’t be possible for anyone who wishes to view a movie to connect to the internet and stream data.  Again, a lot of people in the world still pay for the internet on the data download basis to their respective Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) which will definitely inflate the internet bill.  Also, since you will be saving all your data on the Chrome OS website there’s always a chance of a security risk.  If any hacker is able to penetrate through Google’s security all your data is prone to attacks.  Google has gone the Apple way since the OS will be available only on selected hardware manufacturers.  Google definitely has missed the bus over here as this was probably the best time for Google to beat Microsoft on its own turf by providing the OS for all computers and not just selected brand of computers.  Also, Chrome wont be effective when its not connected to the internet which will definitely acts an deterrent for those guys who are always on the move and don’t have the internet connection all the time.

Can it replace the Microsoft Windows 7?  Too early to comment on this, but the answer is probably no.  My guess is that Chrome will become a niche platform suited to the needs of certain consumers.  Microsoft’s market share of 92.0% in the OS segment will only be marginally affected, if at all.  Also, Google needs to find ways to run applications which are currently running on Windows platform.  Moreover, it will be a huge challenge for Google to convince the end users to shift to Chrome since the customers are more accustomed to Microsoft based products. Google seems to be repeating the mistakes made by Apple in the early stages of Mac which makes Google two steps behind Microsoft and one step behind Apple in the quest for creating the ultimate OS.

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