Google is gearing up to launch its Chrome OS, the platform for its Chrome web browser. Since its release in 2008, the Chrome browser has quickly been gaining a share of the market. Currently, it accounts for 9.27% of browser use, competing with Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.
For many, it is still unclear why Google should put efforts into Chrome OS, especially as it already has its Android operating system, which is the first open source mobile operating system. Since its release in 2008, the Android OS has come to represent 23.5% of the market share, which is just shy of Apple’s iOS (at 24.6%). Unlike the Android, however, Chrome OS will be designed for computers, rather than smartphones. It will address the needs of today’s users, who work for the most part in an online world, rather than accessing and storing data locally or offline. The Chrome OS is also designed to address users’ frustrations with the traditional operating systems, including long boot up times, and other accessibility issues.
OS in the Cloud
In contrast to traditional operating systems, Google’s Chrome OS doesn’t require users to download software or store data internally; rather, data is stored in Google’s cloud, in its data centers worldwide. Chrome OS runs web applications in the Chrome web browser, which are stored on Google’s servers. Users then have access to the web apps and data in the cloud, through smartphones, notebooks or tablets.
Developers can build and offer apps in the Chrome Web Store, a marketplace for free and paid web apps, only accessible through Chrome netbooks. The open-source platform of Chrome OS, based on Debian Linux, presents an alternative to Apple’s Mac and Microsoft’s Windows machines. Some observers point out that Google is pushing the Chrome OS to disrupt the staggering market share of Microsoft Windows.
At this point, the Chrome OS is being tested in the Chrome OS Pilot Program. On December 8, 2010, Google had distributed thousands of Cr-48 notebooks with the OS to partner companies, the media, friends and select consumers. This offers an opportunity to get feedback and refine the product, before it is launched on Acer and Samsung-branded machines later in 2011.
The Cr-48 notebook is a true cloud machine. It does not allow for any internal storage, nor is it able to port photos from smartphones or cameras. According to testers, the Cr-48 does boast a simple, five-minute set up time, boots within six seconds and powers up/down in a second. Any web pages or apps are reconnected instantly, a convenient experience for users.
How to get the Google Chrome OS?
Unlike traditional operating systems, Chrome OS cannot be downloaded or installed on a computer. While it has been released to developers, consumers would only be able to acquire the operating system by purchasing a netbook that comes with the Chrome OS preinstalled on it. Google has planned to release them during the fourth quarter of 2010; however, the release date has been pushed back to early or even mid-2011.
The critics say…
Critics of the Chrome OS Pilot Program argue that the inability to store data locally significantly limits users’ control of their data. Richard Stallman, creator of the GNU open source operating system and founder of the Free Software Foundation, points out that the Cr-48 represents careless computing. Because data is not stored on their own local machines, users will lose legal rights. Running an OS from the cloud requires a significant amount of trust. However, Rajen Sheth, product manager for Google Enterprise firmly believes in the concept of cloud computing. Sheth argues that the three million businesses that currently rely on Google Apps is evidence enough that of the security, reliability and return on investment for moving to the cloud.
This article takes a look at the Google Chrome OS, a Linux-based operating system that accesses and stores data and applications in Google’s cloud. Chrome OS is designed for users who spend much of their time online, allowing accessibility to data and apps from anywhere. The article also introduces contrasting points of view regarding this product. Some experts argue that an operating system in the cloud represents an erosion of users’ rights, while others believe it is a secure, reliable and convenient way to do business. It is anticipated that the Chrome OS will be available to consumers in mid-2011.
CCSK Exam Preparation
In preparation for the Cloud Security Alliance's Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK), a security professional should be comfortable with topics related to this post, including:
- Cloud Service Models (Domain 1)
- Enterprise & Information Risk Management (Domain 2)
- Three Dimensions of Legal Issues (Domain 3)