Chrome OS gets strong rebukes for privacy, pointlessness

Amid lukewarm receptions by reviewers, Google's netbook OS gets strong words from the GNU founder and GMail's creator.

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In the past week and a half, Google’s Chrome OS has garnered quite a few headlines. Some of them have been for the demo of the OS itself and Google’s web apps store, but many were for early reviews of Chrome OS running on the Cr-48 (Google’s reference notebook for the platform). Most of the reviews have been lukewarm about the OS and the Cr-48 (though this isn’t the hardware that will ship with Chrome OS next year – actual shipping models will be made by various manufacturers much the way Android devices are).

One of the big criticisms of Chrome OS is that it is entirely web-based and built on a network computing model in which no data is permanently stored on a Chrome OS device (no file system is even available to the user). That may be attractive to IT, but even experienced tech journalists penning the reviews say that’s jarring to them and it will likely be a major culture and workflow shock to users.

Even with the centralized model for data storage that IT might prefer and the ease of deployment (since no software needs to be installed and there are minimal settings to configure), some IT departments may be hesitant to put so many proverbial eggs in Google’s basket or to force users into a new model of working (particularly with investments in other office tools and collaborative suites that may not integrate well with Chrome OS). Virtual desktop solutions like those offered by Citrix may actually be a preferred network computing model because they can be hosted internally or externally and can offer the experienced of a desktop interface (even if they interface is completely generated by a server or cloud deployment).

There’s also the argument that Chrome OS may be to late to the party as the general trend in mobile computing has shifted to tablets and discreet apps that leverage Internet capabilities for specific tasks rather than putting all apps in a browser environment, which I discussed last week.

More recently, Chrome has gotten some hefty criticisms from the open source and social media community, which could be even more damaging than anything reviewers or pundits have offered up.

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