On April 16, 2012, I wrote an article, New Google Chrome OS: Admission of a Mistake? in which I stated that it appeared that Google had given up on the idea of a browser-only operating system. At the time, I also mentioned my disappointment with Google for not offering the new OS to those of us who own the Cr-48 laptop systems. However, I did understand that, since Google had graciously given these computers to us for free, it had no obligation to keep them updated with additional free software. Nonetheless, at the time I was disappointed. Then, approximately three weeks ago, it appears that Google had rethought its decision and did a flip-flop, offering me a new updated operating system. However, there was one restriction in order to receive the new update. I had to select the Developer build at the time from which I chose to try out the beta (aka test) versions of the OS.
Knowing that this was a test version, I found myself somewhat leery and thus reluctant to install the update since, for the most part, the original OS worked OK. When I say that, I mean that it was OK for surfing the Internet, checking emails, and doing an occasional article here at LockerGnome using the Google Docs software. To me, the plus of the Cr-48 is that its lighter than my 17″ laptop, and I am able to take this unique little computer with me when I travel. However, in my opinion, the Cr-48 and, I would guess, most Chromebooks in general, have one major flaw. This flaw revolves around their filing systems, which are just about non-existent, or, if in existence, are difficult to use. The latter was evident with the Cr-48 that came equipped with a card reader slot. However, the process required to copy to or from the disk was a major chore and a pain in the rump.
What I found with the new OS, however, was how much Google has fixed on the original beta version. First and foremost, this is how the new Google Chrome OS (Aura) looks today:
For those of you who are viewing this for the very first time, you may wonder why this is such a dramatic change. To understand the difference, you have to realize that prior to this update, the user only had a browser as an interface; there were no other options available. Now, as you can see from the screenshot above, the Google Chrome OS now resembles Windows, complete with a taskbar, desktop, clock, Internet connection icon, and settings icon.
But there is more. Here, you can clearly see that the new Chrome OS also has a bit of Android on board:
So what makes all of this so sweet?
- The entire operating system is now more intuitive and easier to grasp.
- There is a hint of Microsoft Aero Glass.
- The translucent features, both on top and bottom, are a nice touch.
- Google has also borrowed the Windows snap feature.
- The Title bar has an X button to close the window and a square button to maximize the window. Sound familiar? It should, since all of what is being made available has been around for Windows, OS X, and Linux for years.
So why am I recommending the new Google Chrome OS, when previously I thought it was just a gimmick?
First and foremost, Google has improved its file transfer system so that it no longer poses the nightmare scenario that previously existed. For display purposes, I am including a screen shot of files that I have copied over to an SD card or USB drive, which can now be moved to Google Drive with ease. With this improvement, Google also updated its software, making it possible to open documents in Google Docs and photographs in Picasa.
Over all, with the improvements made to the new Aura interface, you will find that they are a vast improvement over the previous limited abilities of the originally released Google Chrome OS. So, while it took Google 18 months, it may surprise some to realize that all it did was to make the new Aura a simple emulation of Windows, OS X, and Linux. Is this change just a little too late to enable the company to catch up with the tablet craze or even Microsoft’s new Windows 8?
Here is my personal opinion of what the future is going to hold for consumers.
- Tablets will continue to be favored by consumers over other devices.
- Apple will continue its domination of the tablet market.
- Windows 8 is being made for the enterprise sector in an attempt, by Microsoft, to keep others like Apple away from its cash cow.
- Google and Microsoft must accept the fact that (whether it be Windows 8, Google Chrome OS, or Android), they can only expect limited success in the consumer market when introducing tablet products.
This further means that, if Apple actually comes out with the rumored 7″ Apple iPad (as some rumors suggest), it can only expect to further strengthen its hold on the consumer dollar. An additional marketing tool would be if the company could reduce the cost for this mini-computer to the $25 range, thus making it more affordable for the vast majority of consumers who would wish to own one.
Just my two cents. What do you think?
CC licensed Flickr photo at the top of the page shared by michperu