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Google Chrome OS unveiled

Web-based operating system takes on Windows 7

Google Chrome logo

Google Chrome browser icon

Google has unveiled the first video showing users what to expect from the open source Google Chrome computer operating system (OS), and showcasing its browser-centric approach.

Google Chrome is the first OS to dispense with the traditional PC desktop to become entirely web-based. This means that instead of applications such as office suites and photo-editing software being stored on your PC’s hard drive, they are applications stored on the web – often referred to as ‘cloud computing’.

For the user, this means that all interaction with their PC takes place through the web browser. Google claims that because all apps are web apps, users benefis from not having to deal with installing, managing and updating programmes.

Read the Which? review of the Google Chrome browser and guide to Google Docs and cloud computing

Google claims Chrome has security benefits

Google maintains that there are significant security benefits from the Google Chrome approach. The Google blog says: ‘unlike traditional operating systems, Chrome OS doesn’t trust the applications you run. Each app is contained within a security sandbox making it harder for malware and viruses to infect your computer. 

‘Furthermore, Chrome OS barely trusts itself. Every time you restart your computer the operating system verifies the integrity of its code. If your system has been compromised, it is designed to fix itself with a reboot. While no computer can be made completely secure, we’re going to make life much harder (and less profitable) for the bad guys.’

If your PC is running Windows, read Which? expert reviews of the best security software

Watch the ‘What is Google Chrome OS?’ official video on YouTube

Google Chrome OS: ‘turn on PC and surf web in a few seconds’

One of the features of Google Chrome that looks set to be particularly popular, when compared to traditional operating systems such as Windows 7, is start-up speed. Google claims that ‘you can go from turning on the computer to surfing the web in a few seconds’.

Which? tech expert Al Warman said: ‘Google’s Chrome OS is a radical reinterpretation of how users interact with their PCs, and could offer huge benefits in terms of cost, speed and flexibility. 

‘For consumers who are already content to trust the web with their data and files, the cloud-based interface is the next logical step. Others are likely to find it hard to adapt to the concept of having no software installed on their PC, apart from a web browser.’

Google Chrome OS is predicted to be available to consumers in November 2010, and is also likely to be pre-installed on laptops and netbooks.

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