Nine Must-Have Features We Want To See In A Google OS

Nine Must-Have Features We Want To See In A Google OS

What’s inside Google’s just-announced Chrome Operating System? How does it work, exactly? Nobody outside Google knows. We can, however, build a dream operating system from the ground up, and that’s what we’re doing with some help from the hive mind.

We asked on Twitter what features users wanted to see in Google’s Linux-based, web-focused operating system, due to be released in code later this year, then on sponsored netbooks in the second half of 2010. We’ve compiled ten must-have features that we’d like to see from Google’s upcoming operating system here.

Speed, Speed, Speed


“Well I’ll be more than happy with a 10 sec. boot time. Also, Google should drive software companies to consider Linux seriously.”

TomRittervg says:

“If they want me to care, it has to make me go “holy crap, THIS IS FAST”; just like did when I started using chrome”

There are two schools of thought on the boot-up speed wars—one being that, if you’re going to work all day on a computer, a few more seconds at start-up don’t really matter. The other idea, though, is exactly what Google’s aiming at: the netbook as something you fire up, quickly jump on the net with, then suspend or shut down when you’re done or moving again. If Google can recreate the relative speed of Chrome as a browser to Chrome as an operating system, it’s definitely going to open more eyes.

Of course, it’s not just about boot-up speeds. Regardless of how quickly an operating system boots up, what matters the majority of the time is how fast it works when you’re actually using it. Google will probably be aiming for the sweet spot between kitchen sink functionality and fast, lightweight operation. We’d guess that the first few releases will be fairly barebones to keep things snappy.

Seamless Syncing Of Your Browser And Desktop


Browser with syncable bookmarks. Thats A+ #1!!

It is odd, isn’t it? Despite the plethora of syncing services, there is still no viable bookmark synchronisation service for any browser you want, whether on your phone or across desktops. Fixing this would go a long way toward demonstrating Google’s commitment to openness—even in an OS named after their own browser.

We’d go even further and suggest syncing all over the place. For example, I want instant, no-brain-needed synchronisation of files and cloud data-whether through a “G Drive” or Dropbox or my own server space-between my laptop, my browser access, and my Android phone (or, in my Happy Land fantasy on Lollipop Lane, any phone out there).

Support For All Kinds Of Hardware

mpwalker says,

“I’d love to be able to load Chrome OS on my eight year old laptop and see it speed along. any chance of that?”

The Linux kernel that Chrome OS will run on is notably adaptive and swift on older processors with less memory. That said, compatibility with peripheral hardware like video cards, Bluetooth devices, and, especially, wireless networking gear, is the reason most clear-eyed Linux fans can’t quite say it’s ready for mass appeal, so it’ll be interesting to see how Google navigates this terrain. It’d be great if Google could churn out a lightweight OS that would work well with aging hardware as well as cutting-edge netbooks.

Further Blurs The Line Between Web And Desktop


“cloud storage (seamless) separately launchable webapps IE Fluid on OS X, fast standby/resume, ability to export settings to liveCD”

Wow, that’s a mouthful (tweetful?). Fluid/Prism-like apps seem like a given, based on what we’ve seen in Chrome’s built-in “application” powers, but it’d be nice to see web and desktop integration grow even stronger. Let me drag attachments into Gmail or access all of my apps whether I’m online or off. Last, we kind of think that live CD export is just a great idea.

An Eye For User Privacy


“must-have for chrome OS: no google snooping on me”

This will be the conversation that rises once the initial turbulence of “Google Trying to Kill Microsoft?” subsides. There will be licence agreements and privacy disclosures, sure, but those concerned that Google’s holding too much of their personal data now have to contend with an operating system where “most of the user experience takes place on the web”. Let’s hope for controls, placed somewhere accessible, that let you manage just how much data is saved, collected and reported.

In a similar vein, total encryption of passwords and user data (in the case of loss or theft, a la BitLocker/FileVault) would be great. We’re particularly concerned about saved password encryption for web pages and (Wi-Fi) networks, and presumably so is Google.

Support For Current Linux Applications

jussinen says:

As it’s built, Linux apps should work. Having wine in to allow windows apps would be nice. Running mac apps be brilliant.

Linux apps can likely be made to work on Chrome OS, but many Linux apps work on just a choice distribution or two (these days, mostly Ubuntu and Fedora), then painstakingly ported to meet other distributions’ library/system/kernel requirements. Google has experience tweaking WINE to the needs of their apps like Google Earth and Picasa, and could potentially make it more accessible for Windows porting. As for the last bit: Sure Mac compatibility would be “brilliant”, but also very unlikely.

Integrated Quicksilver/Quick Search Box

Keyboard Shortcuts And Other Power-User Considerations

Enterprise Friendly


“must have? for enterprise use, must run, Oracle, SAP, etc in browser with no hitches. Oh, and Google Apps.”

A good question, and one we’d expect for any new platform. We’d assume that Google can’t, or won’t, rewrite their browser product to support proprietary protocols or handlers, but would hope that the increasing popularity of standards-compliant browsers will push enterprises down that road. It’s not that sexy for general consumers, but it could make a huge difference in widespread adoption, especially if Google wants their OS to compete with Microsoft.

There’s still plenty of room for discussion on the must-have features of a modern OS, so tell us what you’d like to see included, or stripped out, in the comments.


  • Sometimes – and by that I mean very very occasionally – I feel sorry for OS makers, even Microsoft. Everyone wants their OS to be fast and stable, but then they also want another plethora of cool features put on top of that and they still want the OS to be fast and stable. Vista is the classic example of this. MS got carried away with all the Aero features and what-not, and forgot the basic rules of fast and stable. At some point you have to ask where the problem lies – is it really the OS makers?

    I think it’s time we wised up as consumers and realised we can’t “have it all”. That there really is an EITHER before Fast and Stable and an OR before feature rich.

    I’m really hoping Google go for Fast & Stable, and feature poor.

  • It needs to be able to game!! DirectX is going to be needed.

    I dont care about book times so much. Maybe a dual boot option. One for lite weight.. one for full blown OS.

  • @Sage

    Solution already exists for Linux and Mac and its called Crossover Games and you’ll happily be playing at almost native speeds (take a few frames). Just needs support for more games.

  • Its needs to be able to run the Adobe suite or else its useless to anyone in the design field, if a solution could be found then, I and many other design people would gladly jump at it. Without adobe support I would never have the chance to use it other than for novelty value, much like any other linux system.

  • Run Linux apps? Windows apps? You’re missing the point. This won’t be a computer – it will be an appliance. Google is not interested in a general purpose OS – they’re trying to make the web the operating system, so they won’t be putting a skerrick of effort into making normal linux (or windows) apps run on this. Sure, developers might add these features once the source is released, but I’d bet that google won’t be interested. Besides, windows apps on ARM? Good luck…

  • The #1 feature that Google must have is the written promise not to resell all your data they are hosting and collecting on you or impose a penalty of $1 million if they disclose it. They are just going to collect this data for their World library. You have to be crazy to trust them with your private and office work files.

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