Google demoed its upcoming Chrome OS this morning, giving us a closer look into how it's actually going to work on real-world devices — including their pilot program hardware. Here's what to expect.
Chrome OS has always planned to offer "an experience that is nothing but the web," and that makes for some easy setup. In today's demo, Google showed how you can set up a Chrome OS notebook in just four steps. You log in to Google, set up your web connection, take a picture of yourself (or not), and get started.
Chrome OS easily supports multiple users so you can let your friends use your machine without any issues. You can easily add guest users, which will open an "incognito" private browsing session so none of their user data will be saved on the machine or mix in with your own.
Easy Security and App Updates
Like Google expressed in their Chrome browser presentation, Chrome OS comes with many of the touted security features like sandboxed plug-ins and automatically-encrypted user data. Additionally, Chrome OS is designed to keep an eye on changes in your device on the hardware level, saving a backup copy of any settings and warning the user when it detects a change. Because Chrome OS is web-based, webapp updates will happen automatically and you don't have to worry about trusting the security of any particular app. Google's Chrome Web Store will help to provide a secure experience when buying and downloading web apps.
Google's partnered with Citrix to make it easy to deploy desktop applications as a service to Chrome OS. Citrix Receiver is a well-established application that allows businesses to deploy desktop applications, such as Microsoft Excel. Citrix and Google have been working together to make Receiver work seamlessly, making Chrome OS a viable platform for businesses.
Speed was certainly the theme of today's event and Google wanted to highlight how fast Chrome OS notebooks will be. We've all owned computers and known them to grow slower over time. Google claims that Chrome OS devices will actually increase in speed for two reasons. First, the experienced is based on the web so the machine won't get bogged down with tons of files. Second, Google will release updates to the Chrome OS very frequently (every few weeks) to increase the speed of the operating system.
The Chrome OS Pilot Program
Acer and Samsung will launch Chrome OS notebooks in mid-2011. Other manufacturers will follow with additional devices in additional form-factors. Google has, however, launched the Chrome OS Pilot Program. In this program they've announced a Chrome OS notebook called CR-48 to be used for testing right now. It'll feature a 12.1-inch screen, a huge touchpad, a full-sized keyboard with no function or caps lock keys, and an eight hour battery life. A jailbreaking mode is a built-in feature of the product. You take out the battery, flip a jailbreak switch, and you're "jailbroken".
Google's making these CR-48 notebooks available to businesses and individual users right away, but there are a limited number. If you want to apply for the Google Chrome OS Pilot Program you can do so in a few ways. One way is to submit a video to YouTube explaining why you want to be a part of the program. Another is to just fill out a form.