Chrome OS: Waiting Is The Hardest Part...Though Necessary

Google has more than emphasized that its Chrome operating system will be super speedy; it will boot in only seven seconds and surfing the web will be just be quicker. The irony is that you will actually have to wait for Google's OS to arrive and for a pretty long time in the technology world.  After giving a preview yesterday of what is in store from the Internet giant's computing platform, Google's Sundar Pichai said that they are "a year away" from releasing products with the operating system. Yep, we are going to be waiting for a solid 365 days!

When it comes to technology I'm an instant satisfaction type of girl, so naturally I was less than thrilled about the long wait before we start seeing new laptops with Google's Chrome OS preloaded. (By the way, the fact that you cannot download and install the OS yourself is total BS and a subject for another column.)   But, I am resigned to accepting the product delay not only because it relates to Google geeks' needing sufficient time to work on the back end of the OS and on other techy stuff for quality assurance, but also because other improvements and developments in mobile technology over the next year or two will make the Chrome OS worth waiting for and make it an overall better experience.

More ubiquitous wireless connectivity. Given Google's deep roots in, you know, the Internet it makes sense that they have built an entire operating system on top of the web browser. Not only will you have the main functionality of a browser, but you will be able do more through web applications that are to be developed over the next year. Point is Google wants you to spend your time online and it is clear that there will be very little functionality (details are few and far between on this) to the OS if it isn't connected to the Net.  With WiFi being spotty at best, I would assume that most Chrome notebooks will have some sort of 3G technology. However, beyond 3G's kick to the wallet it is also slow.

The fourth generation of cellular wireless is beginning to be rolled out with sporadic WiMax coverage areas, but that uptake will be a lot wider over the next year or so. In addition, Verizon's 4G LTE network which promises even faster speeds is slated to be rolled out during 2010 and into the next decade. With the evolution of 4G in the coming years, Google Chrome OS netbooks will be a lot more useful and powerful than they would be if introduced at this moment in time.

Improved netbook, notebook form factors. In the last year alone we have seen the physical evolution of the netbook. What started out as a notebook with a 7-inch screen has now evolved into almost a real size laptop. With 10 to 12 inch displays that can accommodate better ergonomics and longer usage, netbooks are not only better in terms of function, but have improved in design and style. And this is only going to get better in the 2010 with companies designing and releasing smartbooks that can accommodate different types of form factors because of the smaller and fanless processor architecture. By mid-2010 we will have even better looking and more interestingly crafted mobile computers that will have hardware, as we are told by Google, that will be optimized for the new OS.Web applications with more functionality than ever before. Apple released its application SDK a few months before it actually rolled out its application store, giving developers time to create some of the most impressive applications around. It will be the same with Chrome OS. Similar to the way Adobe Air has provided a whole new crop of connected applications for the desktop, developers will be hard at work for the next year figuring out services and features to bring to the new platform, including many that will support hardware graphics acceleration and multithreading. I have no doubt that Google's web applications will surprise us with their capabilities, just as Android and iPhone applications have during the last year. The more time for those to brew the better.

Chrome OS netbooks and notebooks if released today just wouldn't be as compelling as those that will hit the market a year or two from now. (In fact, I actually think that the end of 2010 may even be too early for Chrome OS given the wireless ubiquity issue.)  As Google has said, it is working on the future of computing and, as always, we must wait for the future to arrive, just as we must wait for our operating systems to boot up.