Nov 28, 2009

"Wickedly fast" boots

Google sketched out more details Thursday about its Chrome operating system, which is slated to become available before the end of next year. Google said the project's initial target is to get Chrome OS up and running on the computing devices that depend most on Internet connectivity.

Chrome OS marks a radical departure from today's operating systems because all the applications and even the user's data Relevant Products/Services will reside in the cloud Relevant Products/Services, noted Google Vice President Sundar Pichai. "We are initially focused on netbook-like form factors with a color display and real keyboard," Pichai said, though the company eventually wants Chrome OS "to run on full laptops and desktops."

In Sync with the Cloud

Google touted the enhanced stability and security Relevant Products/Services that Chrome OS is expected to offer. For example, every time users restart their machines, the operating system will verify the integrity of its code and if it needs a fix or an upgrade, the appropriate version of the OS will download to the machine automatically.

"If your system has been compromised, it is designed to fix itself with a reboot," noted Caesar Sengupta, Google's group product manager. "While no computer can be made completely secure, we're going to make life much harder -- and less profitable -- for the bad guys."

Because of the changes that Google has made to the Chrome OS file system, all user data will become encrypted and synced back to the cloud, which offers security advantages, noted Engineering Director Matt Papakipos. So if the machine is lost, damaged or stolen, all the user's data is protected from theft and "will sync back to a new machine in a matter of seconds," he said.

Moreover, unlike traditional operating systems, Chrome OS doesn't trust the applications that users run on their machines. Instead, each app is contained within a security sandbox -- just like the Chrome web browser -- which makes it that much harder for malware and viruses to infect the computers running Chrome OS, Papakipos said.

All the software running on top of Chrome OS will consist of web applications exclusively. However, Pichai said Google will ensure that users have easy access to millions of web apps.

An Open Platform

Though the design emphasis is currently all about delivering great Internet connectivity, primarily over Wi-Fi, Chrome OS users won't necessarily need a wireless connection to use their machines.

"You also can cache video" and other data "locally so you can continue to work when you are not connected," Papakipos explained. Moreover, Chrome OS will boot "wickedly fast", which means it will "get you on the web as quickly as possible" whenever a wireless connection is within reach, Papakipos said.

Google said it's working directly with its OEM hardware partners to ensure that the products that emerge next year comply with all the hardware specs necessary for running Chrome OS. "We really want software to understand the underlying hardware so that it can run faster," Pichai said.

All development work on the Chrome OS project from now on will be done in the open and with the assistance of the open-source community.

"We are incorporating open-source products from many open-source community projects, including the Linux kernel," Pichai noted. And going forward, the Chrome OS code will be free, accessible to anyone, and open for contributions, he said.

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