Google Chrome OS: First offical event

Google announced in July this year, that they would be developing a new Operating System under the Chrome project. On 17th this month (November) Google held the first public event for discussing this new project. There were rumors around that Google will be releasing the Chrome OS, which were discarded by Sundar Pichal VP of Product Management during the live Webcast. Here are some notes from the webcast, and few shots from the very much awaited Google Chrome OS.

The Google Chrome operating system is completely browser dominated operating system that will emphasise Speed, Security and Simplicity. The OS is specifically targeted towards Netbooks, and designed to boot faster than our conventional Operating Systems, so as to enable to the user to switch their netbooks on get onto the cloud.

Google Chrome will boot with the Google Chrome browser opened. The browser itself will be taking over the management tasks of the Operating System as there is very less local data and the whole system will be dominated by browser based web apps. The screenshot below, shows the Chrome browser with the Application tab open. Users can use these web based applications, as there will be no local software installations. Whatever happens in Google Chrome OS, is going to be within the browser.

The concept of a browser based Operating Systems scares users with the doubt if it will support external memory devices. But the OS seems to work pretty fine while handling external devices and even digital cameras. here’s a shot of the memory device containing a few Excel files.

Here is another screenshot including multiple browser instances. We can inter-change the tabs withing windows and all that is possible currently in the Chrome Browser.

Moving on under the hood of this Open Source OS, Google Engineering Director Matt Papakipos explained a few slides about the OS.

Fast Boot: Our conventional Operating systems go through alot of management of pre-installed softwares and updates while boot, this slows down the speed to about 45secs. Google Chrome goes through 3 easy steps. Custom Firmware – Optimized Kernel – Chrome. 7 seconds and we are done.

OS Security: This feature really impressed me to the core. One specialty about Google Chrome OS is that the root partition of the OS will be read only. This will ensure no binary changes are done by Apps working on Google. More over, during the boot another verification process takes place. The code binaries leave a signature which is verified during each process. This ensures a cure to malware attacks.

Incase of a wrong signature, Chrome automatically updates itself.

Unlike offline apps, web apps do not have any Trust from the OS, so they cant modify the OS nor can they access other applications.

To boost the security even more, each application runs on an individual thread.

User Interface: The UI of the OS is quite similar to Google Chrome browser. So users who can operate the browser can use the OS.

The webcast was to make an official announcement about the Google Chrome OS as Open Source. Google says, that now developers and Google will work together on the same tree to develop the OS.

Google chrome quick information (collected from the webcast question answer session):

  • Google Chrome will be available only in Netbooks in its first release by 2010 end.
  • Google will try and sort plans to create something like an App store for Google Chrome, as sorting of the Web apps will be a tough deal from the users point of view.
  • Audio, Video drivers work perfectly in the OS, some extra open source drivers to support hardwares is also in the development.
  • Chrome OS is similar to the Chrome browser, so flash and codecs work fine. Google is woring on developing faster codecs.
  • There is a doubt on Silverlight plugin support, as the binaries are locked.
  • Operating System for Desktops is a long term goal.
  • The OS is designed for Wi-Fi, still there will be offline support for a few applications.
Developers can download the Google OS and run it on VMs for now. No Live CD’s for desktops are out.
Watch the whole Webcast here: