In late 2010, Google released their Chrome OS laptops via a pilot system allowing consumers to test what has been billed as the world’s first internet operating system. Using the slogan “Just the web,” Google has created a laptop that eliminates the normal processes of a standard operating system like Windows or Mac and simply boots straight to the internet.
To understand Chrome OS as an operating system platform, one must understand what function an operating system serves. When a computer is booted, the operating system communicates with computer hardware to run hundreds of applications. It allocates memory, determines priorities, and creates an interface so that the user can interact with an application such as an internet browser.
An internet operating system bypasses the need for extraneous processes and allows users to access applications that are already on the internet. In many ways, Chrome OS works like the operating system of a smartphone. A user engages the application interface and connects to the internet as a means of performing a task such as reading email or tweeting. Anything that user does on their phone is not stored on the phone itself, but rather on a series of remote servers that can be accessed from any device. “Cloud computing,” as the system is called, is the reason a user can open an email on their laptop, read it again on their phone, and respond using their work desktop.
Chrome utilizes the cloud technology to create an infrastructure of hardware that interacts with a user’s computer and allows for optimal web-sharing. With Chrome OS, users simply boot their computer and are instantly connected to the internet where they can use Google Apps for everything from word processing to social media.
Chrome OS is currently undergoing consumer testing with the intention of releasing on retail laptops in the summer of 2011.