Chrome OS beta's Achilles' heel: Its reliance on the Web

In its first public version, the forthcoming cloud-based alternative to Windows and Mac OS X is too limited by -- ironically -- the cloud

By , InfoWorld |  Software, Chrome OS, cloud storage

Google has bragged that Chrome OS is really fast and that Chromebooks would turn on or awaken in just a few seconds. Both statements are true, but the operating system is overall much slower to use because it lacks the interoperability that desktop and mobile operating systems provide. I turn on my computer once a day, so saving a couple minutes of boot time is meaningless. What is meaningful is all the extra time that the Chrome approach takes to switch among resources and work with files -- I do those all day long. Plus, my MacBook Pro and iPad both awaken in just seconds from sleep mode, so a Chromebook has no advantage there.

I'd gladly lose the faster bootup for faster operations. Operational speed matters much more than boot speed.

Using Chrome appsAs I mentioned previously, the first Chrome apps are primitive, like most Web apps. They also tend to assume you work with only a single app. I believe that apps are the Achilles' heel of the Chrome OS. They will need to be significantly more capable for most users to accept them. I can tell you I gained a newfound appreciation for desktop and mobile apps after using the Web apps available for Chrome OS.

For example, there's currently no unified email client. In Chrome OS, I keep separate windows open for my Gmail account, my Exchange account, and my personal IMAP email account. I have a Gmail account only because one is required to use Google tools; otherwise, it doesn't need to be open. But in Chrome OS, I have to switch back and forth between the Webmail pages for my two regular accounts. That's a pain I don't experience on my desktop or on my mobile devices, all of which support a unified mail account. In Chrome OS, my calendars and contacts are also separated -- unlike with my desktop and mobile devices. Frequent switching among these accounts costs me time, context, and flexibility.

Worse, Webmail sucks. Working with folders is very difficult, for example, and you don't typically get message previews to help you prioritize what you read in depth. And Exchange's Webmail warned me that Chrome is not a supported browser (of course not!), so I might have some functional limits, the details of which are currently unknown to me. The net result is that one of the key daily tasks -- communicating -- is harder in Chrome OS. If I used only Gmail and didn't care about folders and the like, it'd be fine -- but that's grandma-and-office-drone usage. The rest of us need more.


Originally published on InfoWorld |  Click here to read the original story.
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