back to article Google Cr-48: Inside the Chrome OS 'unstable isotope'

Microsoft gives you the Windows Explorer. Apple gives you the Mac OS X Finder. And Google gives you, well, nothing. With Google's Chrome OS – the browser-based operating system that reached a handful of outside beta testers late last week – there's no ready means of browsing files on your own machine. In their lightning …

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  1. Dodgy Dave
    Thumb Down

    So, Google...

    ...I've got upwards of 20G of MP3s, 60G of digital photos, 100G of VMware images, and a terabyte or so of video sitting in front of me, not to mention 50,000-odd source files and assorted documents.

    If they were already 'on the cloud' I might be able to start using them on Chrome OS. But they're not, and given that I have no more than 448kbps uplink rate it will take _nearly a year of continuous uploading_ to get them there.

    It's a joke, less of a proper computer than an iPod touch.

    1. Samuel Walker
      FAIL

      Missed the point

      Someone needs to learn what netbooks are actually for.

      Netbooks generally aren't meant to handle "20G of MP3s, 60G of digital photos, 100G of VMware images, and a terabyte or so of video sitting in front of me, not to mention 50,000-odd source files".

      They're more meant for web browsing, occasional document editing, perhaps with the odd song thrown in. In other words, for when your out and about. Certainly not hosting VMWare images, or storing a terabyte of video. The odd movie? Perhaps, but even that is pushing netbooks beyond their market.

      It's not designed to be a 'proper computer' at least, not yet - perhaps in 10 years when BlueRays, DVDs, CDs and hard-drives are myths for most people....

      It's designed to be for run-of-the-mill office workers who do document editing (on Google Docs) etc. Or perhaps a general consumer who likes to sit in starbucks and needs to check their e-mail, or download something their smartphone can't open.

      Sometimes I wonder how some commenters here have managed to loose the distinction between the general public, and technophiles.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Coat

        were do these people live?

        "for run-of-the-mill office workers who do document editing (on Google Docs) etc. Or perhaps a general consumer who likes to sit in starbucks and needs to check their e-mail, or download something their smartphone can't open."

        Not in any real world I inhabit.

        I know I sound like an old fart now but this is the sort of nonsense that got us into the mess of the 'Dot com' Boom and the current Banking crisis we are trying to extract ourselves from.

        It is the thinking that implies 'Facebook' is an important business communication tool. It is if all you're interested in is presentation. Facebook, twitter and the like are for use by people with too much time on their hands and not enough active matter between their ears. Netbooks and this sort of OS are for those people and we need serious help if that is were technology is taking us.

        1. Samuel Walker

          @AC 09:13

          That is exactly where technology is taking us. The success of Facebook, Twitter et al proves that most internet people do fall into this category. For better of for worse, companies take us where there is demand, and that is where demand lies - with social networking media sites.

          Just because you don't like that direction itself is not reason to deny that that is where we are heading.

    2. Alastair 7

      I can only assume...

      ...that the actual joke in your post is the suggestion that you would somehow have a use for the 100GB of VMware images on your netbook.

      If you use VMWare regularly, you're not the target market for a Chrome OS netbook. I can't believe I had to tell you that. Yet another "Reg readers are not typical computer users" shocker.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        I don't have huge VMWare images

        But I do have movies I want to play. I do want to play games from Steam etc. I do have times where I am offline. Completely limiting the device so it ONLY works from the cloud is just stupid. I wouldn't put up with a phone like that let alone a netbook.

        1. Samuel Walker

          @DrXym

          Sure, but ChromeOS isn't meant to be your main PC.

          How often do you play any Steam game when your out and about, on the train or in starbucks? The percentage of people who do that is tiny.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Stop

            So in this case

            why would I spend my money on a yet another device for browsing the Internet ?

    3. Trygve

      On the other hand...

      If you add together all the:

      -Teenagers who never use anything but FaceTubeSpaceTwatRoulette

      -Grandparents who find it a struggle each time they need to write an email

      -Wage-slaves who just want to relax with a bit of iPlayer or Bejeweled after a long day of using their work computer

      Then I think us nerds with terabytes of accumulated gubbins are probably outnumbered 1000:1

      Google might not get anywhere with this in the near term, but the Simple Handy Internet Terminal (c)(R) concept is not such a daft one.

      1. Doug Glass
        Go

        Right

        "Grandparents who find it a struggle each time they need to write an email". We put a man on the moon and yet can't send email. Of course grandparents come in all flavors, some build PCs for fun and no profit; some just turn them on and off to warm the hovel their kids make them live in.

    4. Doug Glass
      Go

      Not A Joke

      Just desperation to make their stockholders more money. That's what corporations do in part, and not coming out with new products is stagnation. And as a money grubbing stockholder in a few corps I say keep up the good work. And bring on the lab rats.

    5. No 3

      The Real World

      Many on this forum, and many reviewers don't seem capable of stepping back for a moment and seeing the world as it is.

      So, here I am to enlighten.

      If you look at you average "young person", they are already at a point where they don't need much "local storage". Most of what they do is ALREADY in the "cloud".

      Look at the iPhone. Hate it or not, it's very popular. The iPhone doesn't have a file explorer. While it does have local storage, many use very little of it, and those that do use the local storage as a mirror of what's in the cloud (your iTunes library).

      As for young people using their laptops, almost EVERYTHING they do is online, they don't use an email client, they use MSN or Yahoo mail. Photos/videos? Facebook and Youtube. The only time they use local storage is when they're uploading something to an online album.

      I myself am an old codger compared to them, and yet most of what I do isn't local. While I don't use "the cloud" as much, I do remotely connect to my home servers for most of what I do. Think of it as a private cloud. The laptops/desktops I use don't really contain much data, it's all centrally stored on my server, so when I'm on the other side of the planet a quick VPN login and I've got all my email, docs and media right there.

      My cell phone? Only thing I have stored on that that isn't in the cloud are the demos videos my phone came with.

      While CromeOS is very "limiting" to some here, for the masses it offers pretty much exactly what they want a computer for these days: a portal to their data.

      TTYL

  2. M Gale

    "Plans providing additional data start at $9.99 a day."

    HAHAHAHAHA... oh hang on, they're serious?

    Chrome. Useful maybe as a dumb terminal, company-owned device or info point. Completely fucking useless as a consumer product, with that kind of a price.

    Mind you, I really don't know what kind of "home user" would bother with this anyway. Businesses, if it comes with enterprise functions and the ability to detach it from Google's spyware, yes. Me? Give me a hard drive, files to put on it and various and sundry backup media.

    Not writing it off yet, not if they get the RDP bit right, but they are going to be screwed if they think this is the next iWotsit.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. nematoad Silver badge
      Alert

      Yep, pay, pay and pay again.

      I agree, this is another "screw the suckers scam". Unlike you though I can't see a real use for this thing. Maybe some people are dumb enough to want all their stuff locked behind a toll gate. I looks to me as if Google wants the penny and the bun. Get their hands on all that juicy personal data and also make you pay for the priviledge of handing it over.

      What concerns me is the rise of the rental mode of doing business in IT. That way you can pay and keep on paying. This might suit the likes of Google but it's not for me. I may be an old fart but to me the PC still stands for "personal computer".

  3. Carl W
    Jobs Halo

    no local file browser

    iOS as used in the iPhone and iPad offers no browser of local files. I suspect that OS X may start going the same way with Lion. For most (non techie) people the file browser and hierarchical folder structure is irrelevant. I'm not sure I concur, but I do increasingly find myself storing everything in a single directory and searching for it rather than navigating to it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Me too

      I used to be very rigid in my file organisation but since Windows 7 Libraries I am not that bothered. I have a documents library, a pictures library, music & video which bring together all the files from all the accoumts on the PC, plus the wife's netbook, plus my notbook. I dont have to worry about the location any longer, nor do I have to try and remember which folder I stored that particular file in

      1. Efros

        Libraries, jotters and netbooks

        I hate the Windows 7 libraries, seems counter intuitive to my old hierarchical brain. I like my files to be stored in appropriately organized directories. Having said that, I do see a use for something like this GoogleJotter; increasingly I find that I use my dual core 4Gb laptop as a netbook, actually doing very little on it locally whilst essentially using it to access online services and files, and as an RD/VNC terminal for my other machines. When this lenovo kicks the bucket I may be looking for something similar to the GoogleJotter, hopefully the netbook manufacturers by then will have curtailed their expansionist ideas and realize the idea behind the netbook isn't a compact laptop but a frigging netbook and pitch their prices and specs accordingly.

        1. Doug Glass
          Go

          Programic cure ...

          ... for laziness.

    2. pip25
      Stop

      Good luck searching...

      ... after you did not touch the thing for a year, for instance, and you no longer even remember the filename. Search is great for the stuff you use regularly, but as you have more and more things on your hard drive, it is going to need some organization to stay manageable.

      1. Doug Glass
        Go

        Business Axiom

        If it stays in your inbox for more than three days, you don't need it. The need for organization is never lost. You can have all the stuff you want on your desktop but you have to have pile control. And organized file location on a computer is just another method of pile control.

  4. Johnny Canuck
    Thumb Down

    nope

    Never going to own one...not ever. Frankly, keeping ALL OF MY DATA on the cloud creeps me out. I simply don't trust Google or anybody else enough to let them control everything about my computer use.

    1. Doug Glass
      Go

      Yeah, ...

      ... like the paperless office the idea just sucks.

  5. thecakeis(not)alie

    Might yet be useful.

    My Desire can serve as a WiFi hotspot. Baked into the OS, and the telco doesn't charge extra for the privilege. I was thinking about getting a fondle slab of some variety to eventually replace my netbook. Theoretically a ChromeOS netbook could do the same job the netbook is serving now: it’s not my primary computer, it’s a mobile internet device and media player.

    The only issue of course is that the ChromeOS device won’t play media. At least not from the gigantic store of media my roommate has on his server. Everyone in the house has applied to the beta in hopes that one of us will get one. I am very curious to see if we can make the ChromeOS netbook doohickey as useful as a (rooted) Android Tablet or a Fujitsu P1510d.

    Hmm…

  6. Ian Johnston Silver badge
    FAIL

    Let me get this right

    This is an OS aimed at the mobile market, right? Which means it will largely depend on mobile connectivity, right? Which is patchy as hell, right?

    Why exactly would I want a mobile computer which I can't use in the train?

    1. Code Monkey

      Mobile computer

      It's a mobile computer that tips the scales at almost 2kg. Weight is the reason my netbook travels with me and not my ThinkPad. This class of browser only device needs to weigh less than a netbook to make up for the lack of a hard drive.

      And it's not just we nerds that want a hard disk. Normal people want to store their music collections, too.

    2. Doug Glass
      Go

      Well, ...

      ... there were cars before there were real roads, but that wont work here. If you want to be the leading edge, you best have a place to go as the blade swings. And like you allude to, places to go in this case are just damn hard to get to on a reliable basis.

  7. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

    Brand game

    "<BLANKED>'s fundamental aim is to shift all your files and applications onto the web. There's no local file explorer because <BLANKED> wants you to forget about your local file system.[...] <BLANKED> is offering beta notebooks to at least a portion of the general public, and if you ask whether a particular feature will arrive with the official OS next year, it tells you not to think in such terms. If a particular feature doesn't arrive on day one, <BLANKED> says, it'll show up with update at some point in the undetermined future. Or words to that effect."

    Now for a funny game. Which brand name was blanked in the above text:

    a) Google

    b) Apple

    c) All of the above

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      a) only

      ...but only because b) would never, in a million years, give anything away much less not track down and flog anyone discussing one of their betas in public.

      Sans the free beta part, good point and c) all the way!

    2. Bilgepipe
      Gates Horns

      Yawn

      Let me guess - you've never actually owned or used any Apple equipment, have you?

      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge
        FAIL

        re: Yawn

        "Let me guess - you've never actually owned or used any Apple equipment, have you?"

        Yes I have, and that's irrelevant.

        I wasn't even criticizing Apple, I was pointing that they follow exactly the same trend with iOS as Google does with ChromeOS (sans the free/open part).

        Fanbois sure are ticklish these days. Not sure how you selected your icon, either. The Beast Of Redmond was never mentioned.

        Equip Flail.

  8. da_fish27
    FAIL

    100MB a month?

    More like 100MB a day for realistic usage, even more so on Chrome OS as everything would use the network.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      The idea, as I understand it

      ...would be to use WIFI/Local network primarily and use the cell network as little as possible (i.e. maybe between destinations instead of all the time).

      A friend of mine's daughter was using their ATT 3G card to watch Netflix movies around the house instead of their home broadband connection and ran up a $500 bill recently for going over the 2GB or whatever ATT allows each month.

      Of course, in the states at least if you don't give Verizon your credit card you don't have to worry about any of this. You also don't get your free 100MB a month.

  9. ZenCoder

    The cloud should be used to better mange local data not to replace it!

    My three favorite services at the moment are Dropbox, Evernotes, and GMail (accessed via Thunderbird on the PC, Mail on OSX). I can access data from my desktop, laptop, macbook and ipod touch, or any web browser. Each of these devices (with the exception of the ipod touch) has a local copy of my data kept constantly in sync. There is also the copy in the "cloud" and the one on my external hard drive.

    That works really well for a few GB of important data, but even if storage costs were dirt cheap I simply don't have the bandwidth to keep 25 GB of pictures, and 25 GB of music and 100 GB of home movies ... etc in the cloud.

    1. Doug Glass
      Go

      Just Damn!

      What a great idea! Enhanced data security via offsite storage of mission critical but maybe not sensitive data. Damn!

  10. Greg J Preece

    A dumb terminal for the entire Net/

    "It gives the option of skipping the photo, and it tells us that when you use Chrome OS, Google collects no more data about your habits than it would if you were using the plain old Chrome browser on Windows or Mac."

    Well that's not saying much! It may not collect any more data than that other massive infosink they developed, but damned if it collects less!

    From day 1 ChromeOS has sounded like a bad idea to me, and it still does, so I'm sure it'll be massively popular. The Beeb will do their normal techgasm over something they don't understand, the clueless will buy into it, I'll keep using an actual laptop.

    And "ChromeOS" still pisses me off. It's Debian. DEBIAN! DEEEBBIIIAAAANNN!! Google just keep building apps on top of Linux and calling it a new operating system. Knock it off, fess up and call it Googlenix, or Lingle.

    1. Marky W
      Coat

      Personally...

      ...I prefer 'Loogle'

      Hat, coat, taxi for one!

      1. Greg J Preece

        I concur!

        I like this name. "Hock a Loogle on someone from a great height."

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        ha ha ha ha

        I assume this is some kind of Joke. A computer is a fix cost in my household. The only variable is the cost of broadband. Anyone who gets into the game of paying for 'cloud' based file storage and metered access to computing resources is a mug.

        sure a Net only machine is a great idea if you live in South Korea - but for the rest of the world it's going to be one big fat inconvenience.

  11. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    WTF?

    Remind me again...

    Why would any sane person want to keep all their data on *somebody else's servers*? What is the point of a device which is effectively useless without (no doubt expensive) connectivity? What is so difficult about *my fuckin' device, my fuckin' data*?

    Oh, wait. I'm not a user, educated or not. I'm a monetised consuming unit. I forgot for a moment.

    Take it, roll it into a convenient diameter cylinder, and shove it, Google. Sharp edges or not; your choice.

    1. Doug Glass
      Go

      I Wonder ...

      ... whatthe single down-voter was thinking. Must be a really trusting soul. And very young.

  12. Greg Eden
    Linux

    Can be useful for some

    I have Chromium OS installed on an old EeePC, and it is rough as guts - but you get the idea. The Chrome OS netbook will be useful to many people. For a start they should be cheap as chips, light and come with a good keyboard. So if, for instance, you are a student then you have a light cheap device to type up notes and save into you Google Account. When you get home you can download them to your main computer or just access them from Google Docs. If someone steals your netbook it does not matter as your data is elsewhere. If you upgrade you just login and you are running as you left the old machine. You cannot seriously type on a phone. Tablet touch screens are better than phones, but not anywhere as good as a keyboard. You can add an external keyboard to an iPad and have lots more functionality, but then it will be 4 or 5 times the price and you would not want it stolen.

    I cannot see a Chrome OS netbook being you only machine unless all you do is read the web and email, but I can also see that it will be very useful for a lot of people as an adjunct to their main system. It just has to be cheap enough to make it a disposable item.

    1. Ammaross Danan
      Coat

      Agreed

      I could see such a machine being potentially more useful (and cheaper!) than, say, a Tablet. However, I don't agree with Google's mindset of a home PC is/will be nothing more than a web portal. Perhaps for a 15-yr-old who myTwitFaceSpaces all day, but not for me. Accessing your 4MB+-per-pic high-res photo album would be ludicrous from the cloud, not to mention your home movies.... imagine how long a "zone load" would be for <insert favorite game here> if it had to d/l it each time? That and 100MB wouldn't be enough to browse/edit more than 12 photo album pictures.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Cloud is just a pipe-dream for most

        I am an amateur photographer and even with my piddly Canon DSLR regular average RAW picture sizes start at 25MB and balloon to at least 250MB or more once you start playing about with them in Photoshop.

        I know the Chrome Notebook thing is not for this sort of thing, it's early days but until we get suitable network speeds to cope with all this data we all hold, these things will simply be novelties or 'on-the-go' tools.

        Quite frankly a good quality smart-phone can handle most people's needs, you don't need to lug a notebook around.

      2. Doug Glass
        Go

        So ...

        .... experience over the last twenty years has taught us that first generation toys, components, and etc. are cheap? I must have been buying from all the wrong places. I'd expect cheap to be a future thing. For somebody else .... I'm still driving a cherry 1999 Ford F150.

  13. Philip Sargent

    Trusted path at logon

    That security at point of entry, and in depth, should give MS federal systems division a lot of sleepless nights.

    Don't the usage patterns described here sound an awful lot like standard daytime work usage for most employees of large organisations ? And with security at logon that other PCs can't match.

    ChromeOS does a cryptographic check at bootup, why not an article about the implications of that? They are huge.

    Philip Sargent

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ^^^ This

      The security architecture is interesting and deserves a little more coverage.

  14. Bob 18

    Less is less

    OK, so I'm looking at two laptop computers of equal size and spec. One of them can browse the web, via Google Chrome + all its various extensions. The other one has the same Chrome browser installed on it (or any other browser of your choice) --- but can also do all sort of other things locally, if you want.

    I see no compelling reason to choose the Chrome-only version. EVEN IF all you want to do is browse the web, keeping the capability to do other stuff doesn't really cost anything on a modern computer.

    1. thecakeis(not)alie

      I don't know about that.

      If ChromeBooks come in under the magic $100 mark and you'll see uptake...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Happy

        That's the problem

        or not, since google has massive money to subsidise these things.

        I'm betting these will be round about the same cost as a small netbook, then you'd have to ask yourself should I spend the extra few quid so I can have a "real" netbbook?"

        1. Code Monkey

          Yup

          Netbook and laptop pricing does overlap quite a bit, where it becomes a question of "do I want to carry the extra weight?".

          If "cloudbook" and netbook pricing overlap I can't see what would prompt me (or anyone else) to get the less capable device.

    2. BorkedAgain

      Dirt-cheap and instant-on

      ...and no accumulation of cruft over time. What's not to like?

      Okay, it's not going to replace the "proper" workstation for most of the people on here, but I can think of several people who'd find this perfect. Not all of them teenagers.

      But, especially for teens who insist on downloading crap and trashing their machines with viruses and suchlike, this is great!

      1. Doug Glass
        Go

        Huh

        " and no accumulation of cruft over time. What's not to like?"

        You can say the same thing about castration, but that has never been a selling point to me.

  15. Darryl

    One problem

    How are everyday users going to save every file that they ever open, download, or create onto their desktop?

    1. Greg J Preece

      Oh man, I hear that

      I had a user at work complaining that she couldn't find her most recently created files. Thinking that might be Bad Mojo, I went and took a look. She'd made so many files on the desktop that it had completely filled, and the new files were appearing offscreen.

      Nearly hooked her into the projector for a laugh...

    2. Elmer Phud

      Nostalgia

      Ah, the old days of 'My machine is really, really slow' and 'Oh, I just save it all on to the desktop.'

      Desktop seems to be the default for many people - that and 'close eys and click on Save'.

      Still, all Google need to do is rename the cloud target as 'Virtual Desktop' or (more likely) 'Cloud Desktop' and all will be well.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Black Helicopters

        I save to the desktop all the time...

        ... and I'm not stupid!

        My company takes a sort of 1990s "cloud" approach to data security and won't let you save anything to the local hard drive. It all has to be saved in a network folder (with offline use).

        Only problem? The network is extremely slow, and my documents have to come from a server 200 miles away. My 2 gig files...

        Only solution? They haven't stopped me from building a local file structure on the desktop...

        Take that, 90s cloud!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          So long as it's only copies that's fine...

          But should your PC go "phut" what happens to your files?

  16. Jim Preis
    Thumb Up

    Thinking differently

    I believe part of the reason Google gets static is because they unapologetically use failure as a means of discovery. Nexus 1 distribution model, Wave, (Android or Chrome; pick one 'cause one's going to die) etc.

    It is hard to wrap your head around this concept in when we've created a consumerist environment that prizes only instant, perfect exceeded expectations and punishes mere goodness.

    This is the bounty of uber-profitability. It guarantees constant iterative progress with yummy milestones along the way.

    So often failures are used as arrows; what a dis-incentive to persistence. Google's found the magic in harvesting and mining failure as the building blocks for success.

    (Did this come across too obviously as a job wanted ad? Excuse me while I Google "cheating on MENSA puzzles"...)

    Jim Preis

    1. BorkedAgain

      And the fabled "20%"

      Asking your staff to "waste" 20% of their time on blue-sky stuff is part of this as well. Most of that time goes nowhere; occasionally something sticks and grows into something cool.

      Hands up anyone who *doesn't* waste about 20% of their work hours? Anyone?

      Have you anything to show for it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I'd love to have 10% for research/development

        But my boss can't get his head round the fact that the work we do in our little corner is dependant on me as the only authorised person on most of the SOPs since my colleague retired.

        With even 10% free thinking time, I could probably come up with a dozen avenues of improvement worth considering. But I'm narked off so I waste real business time reading the Register instead of doing the paperwork.

  17. Someone Else Silver badge
    WTF?

    Uhhh, Cade...

    "Come back in, say, another five years."

    What makes you think I'll be any more interested in storing **my** data on a so-called "cloud" server than I am right now?

  18. Lance 3

    Cloud issues

    There are serious issues that I wonder if Google has thought of. More and more ISP's are putting bandwidth caps on connections. You also have net neutrality issues as well as peering like Comcast and Level 3. The more things that are put in the cloud, the worse bandwidth caps and peering issues will become. While Comcast has a 250GB limit, there are many that have much lower caps. Many have slow transfer speeds as well.

    I wonder how many customers will like paying their ISP, then more to Google and then maybe additional bandwidth charges to their ISP.

  19. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Badgers

    @ thecakeis(not)alie

    Get the price under a hundred bucks and there'll be uptake - once people have worked out how to remove the OS and install, say, Ubuntu.

  20. TeeCee Gold badge
    Grenade

    So it *is* a "network computer"?

    "...Chrome OS is close to useless if you don't have an internet connection...."

    Thank you for all the effort Google. Don't let the door hit your arse on the way out........

  21. Spartacus
    Boffin

    Are we ready for a NOT-DOS?

    What is a file system without files? more to the point are we ready for one? well maybe a six year old or my granny would be fine with that, but am I?

    Do we need to know what is going on in our machines OS? do we need to access OS files? could we do anything with an OS file once we have accessed it? how long before we have an encrypted OS?

    I certainly do not see an end to my documents and my pictures and my music and my other stuff.. but perhaps we really dont need to access the OS or program files anymore...

    1. Elmer Phud

      yeah but . . .

      Isn't that pretty much the default windows setting?

      'Don't bother with the tech stuff - all you need is My Docs, My Pictures, My Movies etc.'

      1. Spartacus

        Exactly

        So is it a non-story.... and are we ready for it?

  22. bitburp
    WTF?

    Why would you buy one?

    I cannot understand why anyone would buy one. Hardware-wise, they have pretty much the same components as any other netbook - screen, keyboard, CPU, disk, RAM, so the cost of the machine would be similar. On a standard netbook, you run Linux/Windows and can do the "local" computing you need/want to, and use the "cloud" via Google Chrome or whatever other web browser you like.

    So why would you choose to spend the same money and be restricted to doing it all on the cloud?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The hardware...

    ...is the most interesting part of it. That screen is 16:10, it's almost impossible to find a laptop with a 16:10 display now.

    1. Doug Glass
      Go

      Why Buy One?

      Ever heard of pet rocks? Fads power a lot more of the economy then you want to believe.

  24. DrXym Silver badge

    That file explorer

    Looks like a standard GNOME / GTK file dialog. It's probably the case they've left some vestigial trace of something which was in webkit or enabled for debugging purposes.

    Anyway ChromeOS looks like an utterly pointless exercise in its current form. If you're going to release a notebook which has no local file storage you had better damned well make it thinner, lighter and more attractive than the multitude of laptops which *do* have local file storage. I'm struggling to think of any reason I would want to use ChromeOS at all. It wouldn't even work without 3G/wifi and even then its design would render it useless for playing movies, music unless you streamed them.

    Google would be so much better off to scrap the thing and make Android work in notebook form. Then people have local storage for movies, music etc and of course apps and browsers could take advantage of the cloud if they wished to.

    1. Doug Glass
      Go

      What's in a name?

      A netbook/notebook/laptop/xpad without local file storage is just a TV with savable selections.

  25. frank ly Silver badge

    Clouding the issue

    Many people are uneasy about this, on the basis of their data being stored on Google's servers, thus being at the mercy of Google and their ISP/internet connection. Would it be possible/desirable/likely that Google could sell (to an organisation) a private 'cloudy server'? Then, you could 'log on' to your corporate cloud service via the corporate LAN (high speed usually guaranteed) or using VPN over the internet.

    If a Chrome OS netbook can be made cheaply and designed to have few maintenance requirements, then a corporate entity should be willing to pay for a Google sourced cloudy server on their premises and under their control.

    1. Peter Ford

      Private cloud

      That thought occured to me too - it should be reasonably easy to set up a mini 'cloud', even for a small business: one server would do, with some VPN shenanigans in the firewall.

      In fact, a home operation might even be able to manage it: Google might put together a "Private Cloud" appliance, bundle a Cr-48 with it and off you go...

  26. Da Weezil
    Grenade

    Stick it...

    MY data stays on MY machine. If I need access from anywhere to a huge number of files it will be from a private server that I control.

    Google can swivel. I don't use them for search and I sure as hell don't trust them with my data.

    Speaking s a forum admin in my spare time, its a shame Google dont invest as much time and energy in getting the eastern bloc spammers out of Gmail and all of its variants.

    Grenade - its all I would upload to these data scraping parasites.

  27. Chris Beach

    Missing the Point

    It's amazing how many people keep trying to fit ChomeOS into their established ideas about what a PC should be/do.

    Yes it doesn't work well offline, its not supposed to, and why does it need too? We only think its a need at the moment because wireless is still in its infancy.

    Why do you need to manage your files locally? Just because you do on all the other OS's doesn't mean you should need to. What are you actually achieving when your managing your files?

    If there is a negative point to be made about ChromeOS, its that its not answering these questions in a clear manner. So people are just lumping it as a kinda netbook that doesn't work as well.

    Personally when I had my netbook, I could have used ChromeOS instead.

    1. nematoad Silver badge

      Not quite

      "So people are just lumping it as a kinda netbook that doesn't work as well."

      No, I think that the wories about this O/S is one of trust. Do you trust some mega-corp to have your best interest at heart? Not without some rigorous SLAs thrown in. With the Wikileaks/Amazon example so fresh what if Google decide that your face doesn't fit?

      Sadly I think that there will be some take-up of this device but then as RMS has said there is a mug born every minute. We have to make sure that we still have the choice to store our data where we choose in five years time.

    2. Doug Glass
      Go

      Nothing Like It

      Personal responsibility that is; the idea that you can best take care of you. Gotta love all the lab rats willing to put themselves at risk to test a system though.

    3. Doug Glass
      Go

      Exactly

      And who needs to visit a doctor really? Just read about your symptoms on the almighty internet and you'll know where to go from there. No need to sit in a waiting room or an emergency room, just trust others to take care of you. Yeah right!

  28. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Not convinced

    Is this a joke from Google?

    Firtly if i want to share something with my partner or just generally bring my laptop along when i visit him then i can.

    If everything is on the net then i'll have less battery and no way to access anything without unplugging his computer and taking his connection.

    Although on the pro side, i think Google may have beaten a lot of viruses and Trojans with the all on the web idea.

    That or we'll see more keyloggers and rootkits?

    1. THUFIR HAWAT
      Thumb Up

      virus, etc

      Which might be the point of this OS -- it has better security than Windows. On that point alone, think of the saved time, money and aggravation. On the flip side, think of all those who would be put out of work supporting the OS, which Google seems to have a strange take on. Under this concept, the unemployment in the US would worsen, and it's not like there are other jobs for those displaced, what with globalization.

      In that sense, this *idea*, if perhaps not the implementation, is disruptive, which is good (overall). I see it as another step towards the commoditization of the OS. Nothing wrong with that.

  29. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Some People Just Won't Get It

    'Cloud computing' seems to be very divisive. There are arguments both for and against keeping data on the cloud, valid debate on where that cloud should be and who controls it. I don't like the Google model which seems to seek to 'own all data' but can't object to the principle.

    As I see it, it's no different to back in the 8086 PC days of diskless PC's plus a floppy disk with COMMAND.COM and BROWSER.EXE on. A lot fancier now but not much different.

    Some people seem unwilling to shift their mindset from it not being a full-PC to just an access device. Chrome OS is likely not for them, but plenty of others will understand it. I've got a Bush IBX internet STB which is just a browser which connects to a TV; Cr-48 with Chrome OS is only a newer, more capable version in a different package.

    The debate on 'cloud computing' is certainly valid, but to dismiss it, and ChromeOS, as a fail is really just, 'it's not for me, so it shouldn't be for anyone'.

    If 'Google Cloud' doesn't appeal, then how about; 'personal cloud' in a cupboard under the stairs and a hacked ChromeOS to access it ? Does that feel better ? Consider the possibilities and opportunities, don't just dismiss.

  30. James Hughes 1

    More information needed

    For example, can it stream from my PnP server? If it can, then this would be a great tablet OS for sitting next to me on the sofa. Doesn't need 3G as always inside the house, doesn'[t need local storage - all comes from cloud or local server. I have a desktop for all real work. I just need a device for internet access and media consumption.

    If however, you have to steam from Google servers, and are unable to look locally, then its a no-go. Android or Ubuntu would be the choice then.

  31. RussellMcIver
    FAIL

    Doesn't sound terribly new

    All seems a lot like Jolicloud (http://www.jolicloud.com/)

    Only less useful.

    This sort of computing will catch on massively eventually, but they need to make it easier for people to do the things they want - work with THEIR own media and files. Until there is an easy and reliable way to transfer/access these files on a dumb-internet terminal such as this then they are going to struggle. That means no loss of capability regardless of where you are in the country/world and much greater flexibility in terms of network usage limits.

  32. Justin Clements

    Too many drawbacks

    I kinda like the idea of all this remote computing, but having no connection makes the device nothing more than a brick.

    I like our iPad, but it needs a connection to shine. It really does. You can still use a few applications offline (which you won't on the CR48) but when friends want to see it in action, you need that connection. No connection and the device is really quite flat. We still love it and use it without a connection but that's because it can fulfill some of our needs offline.

    But the CR48 needs a full time connection, so traveling with it rules it out, commuting with it rules it out, it's not going to double as an iPod type device easily if its streaming, and so forth. Anywhere with a poor signal (eg most of the UK and the majority of the US), and it's not going to work well.

    It'll work well in your office, at home, and at MacDonald's.

    I dislike Google most of the time, but I like the CR48, but I wouldn't invest in one. "I'm ooot" as they say.

  33. David Griffin

    Why I need to get at files

    I'm a bigtime gmail user.

    Now maybe gmail on Chrome is different, but assumign it isn't here's something I often want to do

    Reply to email #1, (quoting most of it) using an attachment I just received in email #2.

    If I'm not going to save the attachment to my hard disk first, I have to do a silly amount of cut and pasting to make this happen entirely within gmail.

    I would like to be able to store attachments in my "cloud storage" and attach them from there to outgoing emails at will. I must say I expected Chrome was going to include a nice "explorer" like drag and drop file manager for my chunk of cloud storage that would enable me to manage my cloud files nicely but I haven't seen it described in any review yet.

    What would make Chrome very nice for me is if I could

    - use gears

    - write an offline mail and attach a file that is in my cloud file storage, by picking it from a locally cached list even though the file itself might not be fully accessible to me offline.

    Then when I next went online the email would be attached to the email and sent.

    My feeling is that the gmail teams and the apps teams don't yet work together in a close enough fashion for this.

  34. Herbert Meyer
    Boffin

    err...

    Can I enter "file:///" in the browser's locator line ? Does it have a locator line ? Perhaps even "smb://" ?

    I know, technical solution to a political problem.

    Personally, I have an Apache in the basement at home. Use it as a media server and remote disk.

  35. dirk_diggler
    Linux

    I know this isn't going to unpopular..

    And perhaps I trust Google too much but I've been trying for ages to get Chromium on my EEE PC as it's the perfect combination - a small, light, ACPI-compliant netbook with a very lightweight OS running the Chrome browser. The CR-48 is a better version of that.

    I currently have this EEE PC running Ubuntu Netbook. All I ever run is Chrome on it to access GMail and random web sites so why wouldn't I want to remove any cruft slowing it down in the form of Ubuntu?

    I've got a fairly powerful desktop to edit videos, compile stuff, keep my local version of photos etc. so why wouldn't I be desperate to get as much as I can backed up in the cloud? I know I'm giving Google access to knowing anything they want about me, but I'm not really that interesting, and Google haven't exactly been shown to be misusing this data have they? (have they?)

    1. Greg Eden

      Chromium OS

      "but I've been trying for ages to get Chromium on my EEE PC"

      This 17 year old makes daily builds of ChromiumOS. It works on my EeePC900 and WiFi "just works". It is still a bit rough around the edges as you need to refresh the home page and app page a couple of times when you first boot as it loads them before it establishes the WiFi connection. Very much a work in progress. I have not tried my 3G connection as I have a mobile hotspot. You login with your gmail name and password.

      http://chromeos.hexxeh.net/

      Good to experiment with, but it is not yet ready to be used seriously.

  36. Steve Button
    WTF?

    Phone that works out of the "cloud"?

    "...so it ONLY works from the cloud is just stupid. I wouldn't put up with a phone like that let alone a netbook."

    So, your phone works when it's away from "the cloud" eh? That being near to a cell tower.

    What does it work for? Angry Birds?

    1. M Gale

      What does it work for? Angry Birds?

      Yes.

  37. Robert Flatters
    Thumb Down

    One small issue with googles idea

    While it sounds all nice and and all, there is one small hole i wish to make in their dream idea. What happens if the router drops dead or the connection to the internet get cut off..... no access to files or anything.

    Why dont they have a box that has wifi connection and allow the user to view their stuff and develop the OS for the tablets in stead that would be a far more interesting idea.

    I guess in the future when we do have 1000 mbits download/upload speeds and the likes then i think it would be interesting.

  38. Jeff 11
    Thumb Down

    Useless without an unlimited data plan

    It's little wonder there's a rumour about that ChromeOS is going to be abandoned as Android's popularity explodes. We're talking about a device that's useless without a fixed data connection everywhere you take it, or, if you don't have one of those, a generous data plan. 100MB a month (or even a day) is unrealistic if a large proportion of your data and app session persistence info goes over the network. Both things are necessary if you want an experience where you can just log in on another box and resume where you left off.

    And this is where the 'cloudbook' concept falls down - unlimited, always-on, mobile data connections are horribly expensive or simply don't exist in 99% of the world. And there's nothing to differentiate these devices from netbooks, which have all the advantages of being self-contained devices instead of dumb terminals.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    ChromeOS

    Isn't that the Klingon home world?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No, you're mistaken...

      ChromeOS was the mythological figure who hacked off Uranus's balls with a sickle and threw them in the sea.

      Thereafter he remained in charge until usurped by his own offspring and cast into the abyss.

      Draw your own parallels if you can find any.

  40. ForthIsNotDead
    Thumb Down

    Why?

    You have to ask yourselves, what is the reason for this? They are not a charity. They are not philanthropists. They are not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. They are doing it because there is *clearly* a lot of money in it.

    If they have their way.

    They are not doing this to make money from selling the hardware. That's for sure. Google are an advertising company. I can only conclude that by hosting your data on the cloud, they will:

    1) Mine your saved information to build a profile on you so that they can serve you targeted advertising.

    2) Mine your saved information to build a profile on you so that they can sell your profile to somebody else, who can then serve you targeted advertising.

    One day, you will click on a link in your favourites, and Google will say "We're directing you to <web site> right now, but while you are waiting, here's a video from Motorsport Magazine and a voucher giving you a 10% discount on a years subscription." They can do this, because of 1 and 2 above.

    Then, later on, much later on, you will find an email in your GMail, which you never read, since your main method of communication is Facebook/Yahoo Mail/Whatever which will say something along the lines of "Hey! We've updated our T&Cs with a teeny weeny change. No big deal, check it out when you can". You will of course ignore this email.

    However, the T&Cs will say "Hello. All your files are belong to us. If you don't agree, delete them within 14 days. Love from Google. Do no evil."

    So, all those photo's of your kids when they were babies will belong to google, to use elsewhere on the web, or sell to advertising agencies. That blog you are writing? Google's. That book manuscript you were writing? Google's, and they've already cached it anyway and it's fully searchable online, so thats your book sales gone.

    Basically, it's the privacy equivalent of Facebook, cubed.

    You will be touching up a photo 'in the cloud' when Google Chrome will say: "Hey there! Based on your location, we've uploaded your photo to a local photographic agency who will provide you with a top quality, framed print for only £49.99! Mention Google for a 10% discount!"

    No thanks.

    1. M Gale

      +1 for truth.

      And there's some very naive downvoters.

  41. Lewis Mettler 1
    Thumb Up

    phones, pads, tablets and ???

    Phones, pads, tablets and just about any mobile type device is going to be useless without a connection. So what?

    It would appear the Chrome OS may provide multiple devices that could be useful on a daily basis without having to port them all around the place. Borrow one at Starbucks? That should work fine. Borrow one at a motel? Sure, why not? Have one at work and at home but not be required to port it back and forth everyday. Even corporations could have a few spare ones laying around that could be borrowed by visitors.

    There are a lot of advantages to not having your personal data on the machine you carry around. Like not having to carry it at all.

    The mindset may need changing. But, many companies may find that it is much easier to do that for the employees. Give them all a device that gives them remote access to their data but not be subject to being ripped off in transit. No local personal data means a lot fewer headaches.

    Would I want one? Not as my main machine. No way. But, if I knew I had access elsewhere and did not have to port around all my stuff and risk losing it in transit, I could be very interested.

    How many employees carry their laptop to and from work on a daily basis? How much fun is that? How many have arranged for means to avoid that port?

    A light client can be quite useful on a daily basis. One that you do not have to worry about. One that you could lend to a friend? Safely? One that you could borrow from a friend?

    Mobile devices just are not the same as a big fat and fast desktop system. And they never will be.

    Do you really carry your favorite movies back and forth to work every day?

  42. Doug Glass
    Go

    Google's "Do No Evil" Perfect Name

    Given that Chromium can be poisonous and chronic exposure can cause eye injury.

    Precautions

    Hexavalent chromium (chromium VI) compounds can be toxic if orally ingested or inhaled. The lethal dose of poisonous chromium (VI) compounds is about one half teaspoon of material. Most chromium (VI) compounds are irritating to eyes, skin and mucous membranes. Chronic exposure to chromium (VI) compounds can cause permanent eye injury, unless properly treated. Chromium(VI) is an established human carcinogen. An investigation into hexavalent chromium release into drinking water formed the plot of the motion picture Erin Brockovich.

    World Health Organization recommended maximum allowable concentration in drinking water for chromium (VI) is 0.05 milligrams per liter. Hexavalent chromium is also one of the substances whose use is restricted by the European Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive.

    As chromium compounds were used in dyes and paints and the tanning of leather, these compounds are often found in soil and groundwater at abandoned industrial sites, now needing environmental cleanup and remediation per the treatment of brownfield land. Primer paint containing hexavalent chromium is still widely used for aerospace and automobile refinishing applications.

  43. Jim Preis
    Black Helicopters

    Wonders...

    ...how many authors/conspiracy theorists herein that are worried about trust and their data on other people's clouds are running their own e-mail servers in their domiciles?

    <sarc>

    I guess that's different.

    </sarc>

    Jimbodidium

    1. M Gale

      Because that's totally the same thing!

      Ever heard of a local email reader? Y'know, like Outlook Express, for a really awful example?

      I know the tendency is to webmail a heck of a lot of stuff, but there's a big difference between a service that's used to transfer shit from someone else to you, and a service where shit stays because it can't be transferred to you.

      And as said already, there's some interesting implications when it comes to ownership of "cloud" data.

  44. rvt
    FAIL

    Just one app?

    I don't understand,

    when I got my C64, I got a simple terminal basic thingy, when I got my Amiga, I got a single amiga basic thingy. When I got my first PC I had a single DOS thingy.

    later I got good computer with applications, full control what I could do and could not do (but did anyways) I could play a game on my desk, later on my sofa... I could bring it on hollidays and at places where I couldn't reach a BBS.

    No google comes with the same thing, a single computer with a single app that only works at a place where there is internet?!?!?!

    My god... this is going back like 20 years again, a single computer with a single app.

  45. Alan Bourke
    Pint

    Niche.

    Quite a sizeable niche, probably, but niche.

  46. Neal 5

    So many missing one point about it.

    What is Googles main purpose?

    Do I really want to be blitzed by ads without the ability to be able to do anything about it. It'll be ads when I boot up, ads when I login, ads when accessing "my" data, ads when I surf any website, ads when I log off.And worse, I'll have to pay for the privilege. It's more than just a money making machine for Google,and so many people will go for it, it defies sanity.

    Just proves the power of advertising, along with the gullibility of people. Still, if you want to end up paying to work for Google, what can I say, you have free will. It's bad enough having to work 6 months of the year for the taxman. Still, a sucker born every minute, Google just soaks them up. What's going to happen when they have to start sharing with Apple or Microsoft.?

    I'll not be buying into this concept Thank You very much, nor Apples version, nor Microsofts.

  47. Rob 103
    Happy

    Hello

    Some people are really very short-sighted. Yes, this is to a large extent an experiment. One which may work or may not work. No-one on this forum knows the answer, no matter how smart-ass the comments sound.

    Regarding the argument "why would I want to store my data in the cloud omg how stoopid can you get google are so f*cking thick", I had a thought (prompted by a previous comment):

    I have a NAS device at home, its not a huge stretch to imagine a "Google Cloud" service installed on it that allows me to access the data from my ChromeBook, and play movies/music etc. In fact, you could probably do this already. Now, my data is in the "cloud" but hey - its still sitting under my desk at home*.

    *with copies regularly backed up to tape and stored in a fire-proof safe, naturally.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    designed for the faceless masses

    Chrome OS is a product designed for a market segment which I'm sure Google has invested considerable time and money researching. Specifically, people who invest about as much neurological activity thinking about a personal computer as they would, let's say -- a toaster. Glazed eyes and quizzical expressions in response to any technological challenge beyond “this is where you turn it on…” and “this is where you turn it off”. A sizable market segment, to be sure. Google will undoubtedly enjoy the same overwhelming success as other attempts to tap into this “collective aardvark consciousness” that were demonstrated by similar products such as a certain “web PC” product a few years ago 

  49. Spearchucker Jones
    Grenade

    Google calls this "defense in depth,"

    Lol :-) That term was so not coined by Google.

    However, leaving that aside for a minute, I'd love to see their threat model. I pretty sure they've covered all the bases. Except privacy. The part where they get to trawl through... everything!

  50. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Dumb implementation

    Why are ANY localised files stored?

    Surely all customisation and session data should be held in googles cloud.

    How on earth can an OS that only has to run a browser take 12 seconds to load?

    They are obviously using the wrong OS - Try an amigalike OS, or uCLinux, or even QNX type OS and get a boot time < 1 second. You don't even need memory management.

    What a dumb implementation.

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