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Google Chrome OS: A simple FAQ

By JR Raphael
November 20, 2009 06:31 PM ET

PC World - Everyone's all a-twitter over Google's newly announced operating system, Google Chrome OS. Some swear it'll be a hit; others are convinced it's destined for failure. Love it or hate it, though, this puppy's one tough piece of software to ignore.

So what's Chrome OS all about, and what could do it for you? Here are some answers.

What is Google Chrome OS?

Google Chrome OS is a lightweight, cloud-based operating system demonstrated by Google for the first time this week.

How's it different from Windows 7?

Well, it won't feature any launch parties, to start (at least, as far as we know). But the primary difference is that Google Chrome OS is designed to operate entirely off of the Internet. That means you won't store data or run programs on the computer itself; rather, everything will Web-driven.

So, what's the advantage?

Speed is one big plus: Because of the cloud-based configuration, Chrome OS can boot within as little as three seconds. That instant-on capability is a large reason why Google describes the Chrome OS experience as more like using a TV than using a computer: You press a button, and seconds later, you're doing your thing.

Security is another expected advantage. Since you aren't storing data or running applications locally, the odds of contracting a virus are significantly reduced. In fact, the Chrome OS won't even allow applications to make changes to the operating system if they want to -- and, on top of that, the OS will continually update itself and correct any corrupted modules automatically. The critical pieces of the OS will also be stored in read-only memory.

Do you actually save any data locally?

Not much. Chrome OS will store a small amount of data locally, such as your system preferences. Even that data will be encrypted, though -- and synched with an online storage center, too. The idea, as Google explains it, is that you could lose your Chrome OS system, go get another one, and have everything back exactly the way it was within a matter of seconds.

Will you be able to work offline?

Kinda-sorta-maybe, a little. Since Google Chrome OS runs cloud-based applications, your options will be limited when you aren't connected. Developers, however, may be able to build in a small amount of offline functionality for their programs.

What's the Chrome OS interface like?

No big surprise here: It's just like the interface of the Chrome browser. All of your applications run in tabs, and all of the tabs reside in windows. You can drag and drop tabs between windows at will. And there's a permanent tab called the application menu that shows you new and noteworthy apps for your system.

Originally published on www.pcworld.com. Click here to read the original story.
Reprinted with permission from PCWorld.com. Story copyright 2012 PC World Communications. All rights reserved.
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