Cloud Computing at its Finest with Chrome OS
Chrome OS is an operating system designed by Google for use primarily on Chromebooks. It is Linux-based, and is extremely minimalistic when compared to Windows or MAC OS. Because Chrome OS is stripped down to only include a web browser, Google Chrome, it is incredibly fast at booting up and operating when compared to other popular operating systems. When compared to Microsoft Windows, for example, Chrome boots up approximately nine times faster because it occupies one sixtieth of the disk space. Chrome OS aims to overhaul the traditional computing experience, and instead operates on the Cloud, which allows for its stripped-down interface. The cloud computing model means that all data and applications are stored online, in a "cloud", so that they can be accessed from any computer, anywhere. Instead of installing drivers for a printer, for example, users can utilize Google's Cloud Print service to print from any computer connected to the internet. This is the basis for Chrome OS - cloud computing.
Since Chrome OS is comprised of only a browser, applications are integrated into the browser within the operating system. One such application is a media player that is integrated into the Chrome browser to play MP3s, view pictures, and handle other multimedia files when not connected to the internet. In addition, there is an integrated file manager in the Chrome browser, which resembles those found on other operating systems. This integrated file manager allows the user to five files and folders using a variety of Web applications, including Google Docs.
Chrome OS is built upon an open source program, Chromium OS, which can be compiled from the freely available source code. While Chromium OS is free to the public, Chrome OS is a non-downloadable commercial version of the operating system. The only way to get Chrome OS is to buy a netbook from one of Google's manufacturing partners that come preloaded with the operating system. The first such netbook or "Chromebook" was released by Samsung and Acer in July of 2011. Chrome OS received mixed reception on its debut. On the one hand, it was viewed as a faster alternative to Microsoft Windows. On the other hand, some users claimed that Chrome OS lacked the power to run resource-intensive programs like Adobe Photoshop and was missing some native applications users were used to. Either way, since netbooks have been successful at capturing the low-end PC market, Google has focused its efforts to market Chrome within this market.