Today Google announced more details on the new Chrome OS, it’s not an OS release (which will be sometime next year), not even a beta release but the source code is open to the public for people to tinker with. So give it a day and people should have working copies on their machines to review.
I was reading the post of the live notes from the conference on Tech Crunch and the part that really caught my eye was this:
You cannot download and install Chrome on any machine. You will have to buy a new one.
End of next year. Before the holiday season.
I don’t like that at all.
I was looking forward to being able to throw Chrome OS onto my netbook as a quickboot alternative when I just want a quick web lookup or some thing similar. This makes it sound like you can only get it if it comes preconfigured on the device as it comes from the store.
Think about that, even Windows can be installed afterwards onto an existing OS and be given the option to dual boot into one or the other. In fact my netbook works exactly like that now. When I boot I have the choice between the initial install of Windows XP (I keep for legacy networking programs) or Windows 7 with Win7 being the 5 second default.
In fact I also have Backtrack 4 beta on the SD card where I can hit “esc” during boot and boot over to that instead of the two OS’s on the hard drive. During the POST and 5 second timer I have the choice between 3 different OS’s to go into. I was hoping Chrome OS would be similar for a quick lightweight alternative OS when I don’t want a full Windows OS.
Things may change, this is just a quick comment from a live blog. The other bad news in the quote, the fact that its due at the end of NEXT year means a lot can happen in the meantime.
Which comes to the final point. There are many great OS’s out there now that do everything I want in a quick light-weight OS. There are some really good Linux builds made especially for netbooks that take most of the hassle out of dealing with driver installs and the initial setup I ranted about in the last post. Another TechCrunch post mentioned JoliCloud which sounds very similar to what I’d like in Chrome OS, with great optimization, device sync and the ability to choose your own apps (as opposed to using all google), and it’s available for beta testing NOW.
Chrome OS still look great but the biggest news of the announcement seems to be potentially bad news IMHO.
I almost always disagree with John Herman’s Apple Butt-kissing posts over at Gizmodo. But I could not agree with him more in his post about what Chrome OS needs to “be a contender”
I’d add to it but I’ve got nothing other than a big +1 to that.
I usually don’t get a new OS until it’s been out for at least 6 months so it can work out all its bugs. This was a godsend for Vista since I missed out on all the compatibility issues and had a smooth transition from XP. But since the WIN 7 beta went so well for me, and 7 is just a refinement of Vista I decided to install from day one.
Before I mention the install I want to point that Vista is a GREAT OS and light-years beyond XP. People who bad-mouth Vista (looking at you Gizmodo bloggers), either A: just parrot other articles on the web or are Mac fanboys, B: were dumb enough to install a new OS on a 5 year old computer built for XP, or C: installed on day one, got frustrated with the driver issues and never came back or fixed the issues.
Like I said, I installed Vista about 6 months after it came out, on a new system built with up to date components that were Vista certified, and I NEVER had any issues with it. Even now, 2 or 3 years later I can count the number of times I had a system crash on one hand (and I load a lot of buggy betas on my PC), where as XP I could count the number of blue screens I had in a week on one hand. Shadow copy saved ALL of my contacts, notes, tasks, and other PIM info one time when my synch schedules conflicted (due to me tampering where I shouldn’t). And frankly it’s nice not seeing the system slow down to a halt when you get within 10% of C drive being full.
Vista was a great OS and people who say XP was better were fools of one kind or another. That being said Win 7 is MUCH better. Vista was great but is was a bit bloated, Win 7 is a refinement that smoothes the rough corners and makes things a bit more efficient.
That being said, how did the transition go?
Again my system is very good and up to date hardware wise. I have a geforce 9800 GTS video card that can handle high end games. Quad core 6600 intel processor that can handle more than one thing at once. The whole system is 64 bit rather than 32 so I maxed out at 8GB memory, memory is dirt cheap so there is no reason to skimp (Vista and 7 use 1 Gig just to run). And finally for this install I got rid of my last IDE drive and filled the system with SATA2 500GB drives, and two 250GB drives in a RAID0 config to hold the OS.
Again, Win 7 is about 8 years older than XP, don’t install it on 8 year old technology.
The biggest hang-up was that the discounted copy of the Win7 I got is an upgrade edition, not standalone. I didn’t notice when I bought it so I was caught off guard when I couldn’t enter the product key on the newly formatted RAID array. 4 hours later I figured out what was wrong, threw Vista on in 30 minutes and then dropped Win7 on top in another 30 minutes.
So the install of the OS took me:
- 5 hours on Friday to organize and document everything I wanted to carryover (my system was a mess). And like I said before, I prefer to install a new OS clean just to “clean house”. Mac ads describe doing this as a detraction; with as messy as my system (and mine is cleaner than most) is it’s a benefit.
- 5 hours Saturday night to install the OS. 4 was me not noticing my mistake, 30mins me fixing that mistake, and 30 mins to install the OS on the new machine. People gripe about 8 hour install times. Even prepping my files the day before and installing the OS took less time than that. Again don’t upgrade from a mess, install on a newly formatted machine (or throw an old OS on a newly formatted machine and upgrade from that).
- 1 hour to reinstall the programs I wanted on the new machine and to run Windows update.
Except for a 4 hour mistake on my part wondering why I couldn’t load things putting Win 7 on was virtually painless. In a half days amount of time I’m upgraded and have a much cleaner, more organized computer. I’m sure I’ll still discover small tweaks to be made over the next week or two of use but for now everything is back to full operation.
Some key points people upgrading might want to be aware of:
- Upgrade disks need to be run from an existing OS, not to a blank reformatted drive. I don’t know how Microsoft detects the old OS but it needs to be there before it will install.
- When I installed Win 7 from the freshly installed Vista, I reformatted the drive during install and it worked. Again I don’t know how it knew Vista had been there, it must have left some hint in the temporary install setup files.
- All devices were discovered immediately and drivers installed on their own except for a Rosewill dual SATA port card; even the HDTV tuner card was automatic and immediately integrated into Windows Media Center. Most of my hardware is a year old or more.
- Windows Media Player data couldn’t be manually transferred over from Vista, it had to re-detect the library. The ratings and album art are embedded in the tags so they carried over but the Play-Counts are reset to zero; kind of a bummer but I use last.fm to track my music anyway. And with over 45k tracks even in 4 years most still said 0 anyway.
- I couldn’t figure out a way to move the Speech Recognition Training files over. But I hardly use it so it’s no big deal to me.
Bottom line. Easy and cheap if you have a student email address, all for a snappy upto date machine. Ars also has a great overview of of installation and quirks incase you’ve been living in a cave the last 6 months.
The rumors have been flying around first about Apple making a netbook (which was shot down by execs) and now pretty confidently that Apple is making a small tablet device, smaller than the Macbooks but bigger than the iPhone. For those of us who have been around a bit the Newton immediately pops back into our heads.
Newton was more a PDA than a tablet, it was only sized as big as a tablet because of the technology of the time. It failed due to a lack of interest and becaue there wasn’t a demand in the market niche it filled; in comparison today all it’s features could be done on an iPhone with no problem. Although one of my iPhone gripes is that for all it’s advanced tech the iPhone still can’t fully duplicate the old Newton as a PDA. Half the programs aren’t there natively and when you “get an app for that” you can’t run multiple or background apps.
Back to the modern iTablet (not its real name, I just made that up for simplicities sake), PCWorld writes an article why they don’t think it will work. I usually don’t agree with PCWorld but here they made a few good points.
While I think a multi-touch display is a great idea, using it to host a virtual keyboard takes too much real estate on a petite 10-inch display. Eliminating the physical keyboard would make the device very thin, but at the expense of the screen protection a closed laptop offers.
The iPhone and iPod Touch work as keyboard-less devices because they are designed to be hand-held—something which would be difficult and clumsy with a 10-inch tablet.
Exactly why the onscreen keyboard on the iPhone sucks, it takes up more than half the screen in landscape; 9-10” screens are barely big enough for surfing as it is, there is no room for a keyboard. And on the tablet you can’t thumb type because of the size of the tablet. When typing you’ll need to sit the tablet down on a flat surface or in your lap which will make viewing the screen a royal PITA, especially if they stick with a glossy fingerprint smudged screen.
On the plus side there should be more room for the keyboard than on the iPhone, and people are brainwashed enough to ignore that and some even call it a “feature”. Also as a netbook/tablet the keyboard will be relegated to more infrequent use; it’s the same reason I can barely stand the keyboard on my 9” EEE PC, I never really have to use it except in a pinch. But I still think a convertible laptop/tablet like the Asus T91 is a much better way to go to get the best of both worlds in this device size.
The second major strike is the possibility of the tablet running the iPhone OS or a hybrid; at this point all we have is rumor but many people hint at an iPhone OS relation running on an ARM processor for the tablet.
The iPhone OS as-is would be an epic fail. Unlike Android and Windows Mobile the iPhone OS is built to run on one platform and one resolution only and all apps are optimized for that phone, that way Apple can be sure all apps will run well. If the iPhone OS had to deal with all the variations in hardware that Android and WM deal with it’s wouldn’t be nearly as slick. Trying to stretch that phone OS out to 10” wouldn’t work without some major redesign. Thus a hybrid OS is far more likely
The Hybrid OS that the tablet will likely get is something that looks like a big iPhone OS but has some added capabilities to it; however this will still be insufficient.
Regardless whether this is designed to compete with netbooks or not, at 10” it will be placed in competition with netbooks in everybody’s minds anyway. So running anything less than a full OS will seem crippled when compared to netbooks/tablets running Windows or Linux. Apple will have to go with OSX or an “OSX Basic”. But Apple charges the price premium to put good hardware in their devices so a thin 10” tablet running OSX is entirely possible if they can keep the battery usage down.
I disagree with PCWorld that the tablet will be a train-wreck. It will sell like a beast and the Apple faithful will ignore the keyboard drawbacks or short battery life or limited OS. Like the netbook fanatics they will load complex software into device poorly designed to handle it and claim that since it can barely run without crashing the tablet that it’s “full featured”. But best of all it will accelerate competition in making a useful tablet PCs, hopefully prodding competitors like Asus into making a convertible netbook with a decent video processor (Asus T92 perhaps?) that will combine the best of both worlds between the Apple tablet and the current netbooks.
I’ll be happy just so long as we don’t get the “iPhone effect” where people become so brainwashed they start to remove advantages like a physical keyboard, stylus input, background apps, and copy/paste in an effort to copy Apple.