Google Chrome OS & CR-48 (or, the future!)

On Tuesday, December 7, 2010 Google announced the deployment of its Chrome Opearating System (OS) to a live audience (see above) and streamed the presentation via YouTube. The presenter talked about how Google wants everyone to use the cloud, and what better way to do that than to develop a Google laptop that uses cloud computing and the Chrome OS to do everything.

What is cloud computing? It is “Computing in which services and storage are provided over the Internet (or “cloud”)” –from You don’t store anything in physical devices like your computer, but on powerful servers housed in distant lands. Cloud computing is not really new—Google already stores your e-mail on their servers, along with everything else, readily available on demand over an Internet connection.

So now that Google has developed their own OS, it will be delivered in two ways: one is via a new 12.1” netbook called CR-48 (the name will probably change when it’s ready for sale), and another through Google’s browser, Chrome. The netbooks won’t be available until 2011, but if you use Google’s browser Chrome, then you’re already using Google’s OS. The Google’s netbook is a cloud computer, and it uses Chrome as its main OS. Think of it as a browser made into a netbook, since the netbook itself doesn’t have any other function than to house Chrome, and use the Internet over a wireless connection to do its thing.

I was lucky enough to receive a bare bones, beta-tester CR-48 netbook, thanks to the magic of a QR code (I’ll tell you that story some other time), and sure enough it is a sleek and spartan netbook. If you already use Google, then your Google login and password are all you need—all the other services you depend on (Google Docs, forms, sites, etc.) are automatically loaded because, well, they’re online too, tied to your Google account.

Best. Christmas. Ever! #ChromeOS  on Twitpic

The CR-48 doesn’t have an optical drive (can’t play DVDs or CDs), doesn’t have Caps lock, has no F keys, and instead has buttons dedicated to simple tasks like volume control, brightness, and a search button; there are hidden Ctrl-Alt power keys, one USB port, one VGA output, but for the most part you’ll use this netbook to work and do things online—and only online. No wi-fi at your house? Then the CR-48 becomes a sleek paper weight. It needs wireless connectivity to be of any use, which, when you think about it, makes a lot of sense in a continually hyper connected world.