You’ve got to love Google’s marketing machine. Despite having little new to say about Chrome OS, the media has been eagerly reporting this week’s “launch”. You can’t open a newspaper without reading something from an excited journalist who’s obviously confused by the difference between an OS and a browser.If, like me, you were expecting to download a fully bootable ISO, you’re going to be disappointed. The launch consists of:
- A name change from “Chrome OS” to “Chromium OS”.
- A new Chromium.org website containing information for UI designers and developers.
- An early version of the source code.
Google has stated that the OS is a full 12-months away from release. The source code is not a beta or even a pre-alpha. It’s possible to create a build but few people will bother: you need Linux, various developer packages, and a lot of patience.Screenshots and videos are available, but they’re mostly conceptual line drawings rather than actual footage of real-world use. This video is one of the more informative:
So have we discovered anything that we didn’t know before?
- It’s a pure browser-based OS. It’s essentially the Google Chrome browser with additional pop-up management. Even simple applications such as the calculator appear to be web-based rather than an OS executable.
- The left-most tab shows the Chrome menu which links to standard applications like GMail or panels.
- Small panels can be opened which overlay the main window or can be docked at the side of the screen.
The OS is mostly what I expected, but I’d really hoped to be booting a virtual machine today. It’s great that Google has released the code and is asking for developer contributions, but whipping up frenzied media excitement wasn’t the best move. I can’t help feeling a little underwhelmed.Have you built or tried Chromium OS?
Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.