I’m writing this on a web-based laptop: The Google Cr-48, running Google’s newly released ChromeOS. I don’t normally write about technology here, but Whisky2.0 is all about the convergence of whisk(e)y and technology. So this is at least partially relevant….
Ok, so what’s the big deal about ChromeOS? From my perspective, its biggest innovation is also its Achilles’ Heel: Everything is in the cloud. No apps run off the local hard drive. In fact, there is no hard drive in the traditional sense. It has some amount of local flash-based storage for the OS and caches and such.
You might be wondering what it’s like to use: The whole operating environment looks like a multi-tabbed browser. It’s probably one of the most familiar things you can imagine, if you’ve been using web browsers in the last 5 years. So far, I haven’t found any site that doesn’t work well (except Outlook Web Access, which probably only works really well in Internet Explorer, as you could have guessed). I’ve seen other people report glitches. For me, so far it’s been remarkably stable. Note that I didn’t add any qualifier like “…for a beta product.” As far as I can tell, this is solid.
- The ease-of-use is impressive, though I find the keyboard layout to be frustrating (the Mac keyboard puts the Control key further away from the space bar, and when I click the alt key instead of the control key, that’s frustrating).
- The feature that makes me want to use it more and more is the super-quick wake from sleep. It takes almost no time for the computer to wake up.
- The OS updates itself.
- It is designed to recover from corruption caused by misbehaving web apps.
My friend at Google who put me in line for this free laptop (I call it a webtop, other people have called it a Chrometop, but mostly it’s just a laptop) is part of the ChromeOS team and in fact worked on the power management subsystem. He’s partially responsible for the insanely quick wake-from-sleep. For me, this is what makes this laptop so usable. And the fact that the battery life is 8+ hours of continuous use or 8+ days of standby time!). It’s always ready whenever I am. I know I can open it up and it will be ready to go. Instantly. Other laptops need an extensive wakeup period. Oh, and the Chrome Sync is the bomb. It picked up all my bookmarks etc., right from the cloud. I love the vision.
ChromeOS is a real OS…it’s just that you don’t know that there is an OS. The boot time is less than 10 seconds. Seriously. The fact that the web is the only application (in the traditional sense) is what makes this OS seem invisible. The new world is a world of apps on the web. The code is downloaded to your computer to run in the browser and all the interactions are mediated by online servers.
p.s. WordPress works great on the Cr-48.
p.p.s. Cr-48 could be interpreted as the chemical symbol for the isotope of Chromium with the atomic weight of 48 (Chromium has 24 protons, so its atomic number is 24, and Chromium-48 has 24 neutrons to go with the 24 protons). Chromium-48 is an unstable isotope of Chromium with a half-life of just under 22 hours. It does not occur naturally.