Thursday, 8 November 2012

Cloud Operating System - is it Chrome OS?

As per my previous post regarding cloud Operating System, the question still remains, or does it? You have probably already heard or worked with Google Chrome OS, if not, its new operating system that revolves almost entirely around web apps and browser extensions built around Google's Chrome browser. The apps you are cloud-based services -- things like Gmail and Google Docs. But taken out of the typical operating system context, all those elements take on a whole new feel. Working with Chrome OS you are immediately struck by its simplicity and you are ready to roll within a few seconds after you have pressed the power button.
There are many advantages of having a cloud based system, first to come to mind is that you never have to worry about software updates, antivirus can also be managed in similar fashion. The new release of Chrome OS does have a desktop like feel, although initially a bit unfamiliar but once you get going it is actually very pleasant. Working on Chrome OS and with the apps, I need to remind myself that everything is in the Cloud, so no local programs required. You can still however plug a memory card or USB storage device into the Chrome Book and access your files and you can even listen to your music on a “offline” USB device.
Something that has to be kept in mind is that you cannot yet work on Chrome OS without an internet connection; I understand that Google is working on this. Not being able to work on your Chrome Book in “offline” mode might be a big limitation especially in Africa where internet connectivity is still expensive compare to the rest of the world and might also be a requirement elsewhere in the world. One also has to consider that the quality of your internet connection will have a direct impact on your Chrome OS experience.
So is Google Chrome OS a true Cloud Operating System? Let’s look at the patent that was filed for Chrome OS “Network based operating system across devices" this in my mind covers a very wide patent classification which will make it very difficult for anyone else to patent an operating system over a network. It would be interesting to see how Microsoft reacts to this, because effectively with this patent the Cloud OS for client computers are now patented.
Again turning to –wikipedia (to refresh my memory) regarding the definition of an Operating System?  Wikipedia defines it as, “software, consisting of programs and data, which runs on computers, manages computer hardware resources, and provides common services for execution of various application software. The operating system is the most important type of system software in a computer system. Without an operating system, a user cannot run an application program on their computer, unless the application program is self booting.”  -wikipedia.
So Chrome OS does run “programs” and provide access to data and manage and run the Chrome Book hardware so in my view I believe that Chrome OS is a Cloud Operating System and this is the start of something big, which in my mind will be very difficult for Microsoft to counter. I cannot wait to see how this all evolves.

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  2. The inventor, Jeff Nelson, was way ahead of his time. He left Google almost two years before the patents for Chromebook were filed by Google's lawyers.

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