Google Chrome OS leaked screenshots: is this Microsoft's newest rival?

The first purported screenshots of Google's Chrome OS have leaked, courtesy of a snap-happy Acer parts supplier and a momentarily careless Google demo rep.  Apparently taken at the end of a demonstration of Chrome OS for Acer, installing the software in just 10 minutes on a formerly Vista Acer Extensa 4620Z laptop, even this early build of the platform showed its speed credentials: a desktop to desktop reboot in around 25 seconds.UPDATE: The screenshots are fake, as we suspected might be the case.  Just a video designer hoping to drum up business. 7/9/2009More Google Chrome OS feedback after the cut

Only one restart was required to complete the install, and only the Google Talk app was loaded as standard.  The so-called "Chrome Bar" at the bottom of the display has a blue "Start menu" button and clock, and auto-hides; the Windows key and space bring it back up, but on proper Chrome OS netbooks there'll be a dedicated key.  There's also the possibility of adding a search box to the bar.

Two forms of navigation are present, "Exploration" and "Browser"; the former is a simple Explorer-type folder navigation, while the latter uses local search in the Chrome browser.  It will also show "most visited" files.  Icons can be resized, and there will be wizards – such as the internet wizard, which is described as "very quick" – to setup different features.

Of course, it would be very easy to fake screenshots like these, and only Google (and their hardware partners) can say whether they're authentic or not.  It's probably too early to judge the visual side of the OS, as the Google rep apparently kept reiterating that it was a very early beta, but it looks as though simplicity is the order of the day.

[via Engadget]