The Future of Chrome OS Could Still Be Running As a Secondary OS
Now that Chromebooks--portable computers based on Google's Chrome OS--are proliferating, including many online ads for them from Google, some interesting reviews are rolling in. In a post called "Chrome OS: The Cloud-Only Problem is Coming Home to Roost," I pointed out that the achilles heel of Chrome OS-based computers is that they force the user to work with data and applications in the cloud, when many users demand some level of local storage and application functionality.
Some recent hands-on reviews of Chromebooks (and the Chromebox) suggest that this may not be such a problem anymore, though.
Mark Hachman has a very interesting post up in which he describes his experience forcing himself to use a Chromebox for a month. Hachman begins by noting that in early iterations, Chrome-based systems did have too much of a tendency to ignore things that users are used to:
"Users do need some basic capabilities: a file manager, peripheral support and the ability to print, at the least. And the early ChromeBooks had a file manager that took forever to scan something as simple as a USB stick. With ongoing updates of the operating system and the release of new Chromebook laptops and the ChromeBox compact desktop in May, however, those issues have largely been resolved."
Chrome OS-based systems have some advantages, of course. They offer airtight security, and they also boot up instantly. Hachman notes that Google Drive--the cloud storage solution--is also now fully integrated in Chrome OS "...so that there’s always a cloud backup available. Google also created a 'Downloads' folder to make it easy to find PDFs or other files that you’d like to have stored locally (the ChromeBox includes a small amount of internal storage)."
However, a review of one of the latest Chromebooks from Mobile Tech Review still does note that Chromebooks have a very two-fisted approach to the cloud:
"...we're not sure the world is ready and able to live life solely online."
The answer, as noted here, may be for Chrome OS to become a secondary operating system on computers that also include an OS capable of local functionality. Many people use multiple operating systems now, and so few use Chrome OS as one of their choices. Among other reasons why Chrome OS can function as a great sidekick to the more prevalent operating systems is that it's more secure.
Does Chrome OS have to beat other operating systems to succeed, or could it be useful running side-by side with them? Hey, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.