Google's latest Chrome OS: You now have a desktop, but...

Google's latest Chrome OS: You now have a desktop, but...

Summary: Google's latest Chrome OS for developers looks a bit like Windows, Ubuntu and Mac OS X. Is that enough?


Google updated its Chrome OS and users of Chromebook are now free of a full browser window. It's unclear whether the Chrome OS updates will make it more popular.

I downloaded the latest Chrome OS via Google's developer channel. There's a Samsung Chromebook that has been on my desk for a while. I started to use the Chromebook, but got this stuck in a sandbox feeling. After a while I resented the full browser window view. I felt trapped.

Google's latest build of the Chrome OS changes that equation. There's a dock bar (limited to the Chrome browser, search and apps) and you can resize the browser screen. In other words, Google's Chrome OS looks a bit like Windows, Ubuntu and Mac OS X.

Also: Google's new Chrome OS: Back to the future | Say hello to Google’s new, old Chrome OS (gallery)

It's obvious to me that Google is at least subliminally admitting that its first approach with the Chrome OS was just off. Now that the Chrome OS looks a little more conventional perhaps it'll gain traction.

But I doubt it. In a nutshell, Google's latest dev version of the Chrome OS does the following:

  • Takes your Chrome OS icons and puts them on an icon;
  • Gives you a limited doc bar;
  • And allows you to minimize the browser window.

Those changes give me a larger sandbox, but I still feel a bit trapped. I want the Chrome OS to do more. The app selection has improved on the Chrome OS, but Google is building a lot of that software to seed the ecosystem.

The end game for Chrome OS is a merger of sorts. Google is likely to take the Webtop it's getting from Motorola Mobility, stir in Android, update the Chrome OS and slap it all together.

Today, Chrome OS is a fine experiment. But it's an experiment that probably won't entice you to buy a Chromebook just yet unless prices fall dramatically and you're an enterprise clamoring for a Web terminal.

Topics: Operating Systems, Apps, Browser, Google, Hardware

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  • Ubuntu != Linux, and Unity is not Aura

    I'm a little surprised by the fact that a publication with such reputation uses Ubuntu as an equivalent of Linux. I'm sure you're pretty aware of the existence of hundreds of Linux distributions. Ubuntu is probably the most popular, but using it as a synonymous of Linux is wrong.

    In fact, comparing Google Chrome OS' Aura interface with Windows 7 or Mac OS X is correct, but not with Ubuntu: since 11.04 (a year ago) Ubuntu uses the Unity shell, an interface on top of GNOME 3 that no longer presents a dock bar on the low border: it does present a dock on the left, yes, but again, the comparison is unfortunate.

    You forgot to mention also the new launcher screen (similar to LaunchPad on Mac OS X, or to Dash in Unity), the other big change in the new release of Google Chrome OS. But I agree with your conclusions. Chrome OS feels like it belongs nowhere.

    Regards from Spain
    • I don't see where the article equated Ubuntu to Linux.

      It is the most popular and mainstream distribution for desktop use and I think Larry used the reference correctly in this regard. Saying it looks a "bit like" is reasonable.
      • So?

        Being the most popular does not mean that Ubuntu is the same as Linux, it's a common mistake in tech media. Quote:

        "In other words, Google???s Chrome OS looks a bit like Windows, Ubuntu and Mac OS X."

        If that's not saying that Ubuntu and Linux are the same, I don't know what it is. Just an opinion, though.
    • Ubuntu is not Chrome OS and Aura

      I hate Ubuntu Unity. I just dump it for Chrome OS Linux. Nowadays, what can I do on my desktop that I can't do on the Web? not so much. I am even more productive when all my personal data are on Google Docs. It is much more secure. When my house was broken, my laptop and my tablet ASUS have been stolen and hopefully all my personal are in the cloud. I have been using gmail since its beginning and I have never lost one email. Moreover I have also dump my VM desktop XP for Chrome OS, it is much more secure for activities on the Web since the two are completely separated. I rarely need Desktop applications. You can download VM Hypervisor for free from the web and install Chrome OS Linux on one VM. It works fine. Moreover you can still run locally applications with Chrome OS Linux and I find it much more usable than Unity. Sorry I loved Ubuntu but it is time to move on. Alternatives to Ubuntu Unity are Linux Mint ( based on Ubuntu) and Chrome OS Linux( based on open Suse). Both are great and can replace Window 7 if Microsoft Office is not your cup of tea.
  • Hmm

    "Google's latest Chrome OS: You know have a desktop, but..."

    Is this supposed to be...

    "Google's latest Chrome OS: You now have a desktop but,..."
  • Google's latest Chrome OS: You now have a desktop, but...

    Destined for failure from the start. Google doesn't know what it wants to do with ChromeOS and because of that lack of direction its going to be another huge failure for them. Make it all web based, make it desktop based, they can't figure out it and until they do no one will use it.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • Larry, please explain...

    You say, "I want the Chrome OS to do more." Could you please tell us what you want it to do. I have been using my Chromebook exclusively at home for over a year now. The only time I had to pull out the old box, was to burn CDs for my son's car that doesn't have MP3 player.
    I'm not saying, that you don't have legitimate needs, I'd just like to know what it is you feel Chrome OS needs.
    • Do more

      I think if you want Chrome OS to do more, you just install Linux and run chromium browser. In that way you can "both eat and keep the cake"
    • Linux distributions are much better than Chrome OS

      Chrome OS is the worst OS ever imagined, it's a return of the mainstream computers which own all your data, programs and personal information.
      The PC with a Linux distribution stores the programs locally, doesn't share your private data and supports thousands of drivers for many, many hardware, from DVD players, burners, graphic cards, external hard drives, etc. Chrome OS should be decomissioned forever in Google. Google should adopt a Linux distribution like Fedora, Ubuntu, etc if they want to be popular like Windows and OSX desktop OS's.
      Gabriel Hernandez
      • Errr.....

        "if they want to be popular like Windows and OSX desktop OS's"
        Let's see. Windows has 85% of ther marketshare. OSX has 6.5%. Linux is now under 1% [as per]. They don't distinguish Linux versions [which would include Chrome OS].
        I don't think ChromeOS will be as popular as Windows or even OSX in any of our lifetimes.
      • Chrome OS Linux

        I respectably disagree with you. Have you ever used the latest Chrome OS Linux. It is based on Open Suse It is not that bad as you say, it is fast, safe. I believe it is the future since the sexiest applications will be on the web. What can't you do with Chrome OS Linux???? you even synchronize LibreOffice with Google Docs.
      • Chrome OS Linux != Chrome OS

        @ oldman60
        The Linux distro "Chrome OS Linux", built on OpenSUSE, is not the same as the Chrome OS developed by with Google from Chromium OS. There is no LibraOffice in Chrome OS.
  • Drop the price dramatically and I see these selling really well indeed

    The new UI makes it look a whole lot more usable. Just drop the price dramatically and I see these selling really well indeed.
  • A bit?

    The new Chrome OS UI looks 'a bit like' Windows and a Geely GE looks 'a bit like' a Rolls Royce Phantom.
  • Google....

    Give up on ChromeOS. It is sinking like the Titanic. Nobody wants it.