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Keeping Google's Consumer OS Options Straight 97

Posted by timothy
from the who-would-ever-want-local-storage dept.
According to Engadget, among others, Google is expected to show off the state of the Chrome OS on Tuesday of this week, and perhaps even to show off a netbook running the cloud-centric system. Since many of the things that Chrome OS does are also within the scope of Google's other consumer OS, Android, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has written a guide to the differences, as he sees them, between Android and Chrome OS.
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Keeping Google's Consumer OS Options Straight

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  • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Monday December 06, 2010 @08:08AM (#34458796) Journal
    FTFA:

    As for Android applications, where all the applications are Java-based and depend on Dalvik, I don’t see any way that those applications will run on Chrome OS.

    Yes because putting a Java JIT engine in a browser is easy; putting a Dalvik JIT engine in a browser is impossible! Google has NO WAY to leverage the base of tools and programs already created for their first OS, they will have to start from scratch...

    • What would the point in that be anyway? Why not just use Android?

      The only use I see for Chrome OS is for dual boot to quickly check something online.

      • by 91degrees (207121) on Monday December 06, 2010 @08:39AM (#34459010) Journal
        Quickly checking something online does actually cover most of the functionality of my netbook.
      • by ProppaT (557551) on Monday December 06, 2010 @09:11AM (#34459220) Homepage

        Because Google understands the importance of a good UI that does what it's meant to do, easily. Android is designed around a touch screen concept. Chrome OS is designed around a standard mouse/touch pad and keyboard input combination. It's one of the reasons why Win Mobile failed all these years. They tried to force a desktop interface onto a device that most definitely could not be used as a desktop. It's also the reason why tablets didn't become popular when they were first introduced 5-6 years ago running Windows XP.

        • by peragrin (659227)

          which when you think about it is odd. ChromeOS is perfect for touch devices. a very simple, interface that has primarily one purpose and that is to surf the web.

          keyboards are only so useful for that. The most data entry one does on the web is a quick email, or forms for ordering stuff.

          • The most data entry one does on the web is a quick email, or forms for ordering stuff.

            I'm not sure that Google -- a company that, after all, maintains a web-based office suite with a continuously-expanding feature set -- views the role of "what people will do on the web" the same way your comment suggests.

            Google's current online offerings -- coupled with technology like Native Client that is a key technology for the Chrome browser and Chrome OS and which enables native code to be run in a browser sandbox --

          • by hitmark (640295)

            The way i increasingly see Android is as a external project that happens to piggy back on the Google brand recognition. It seems to break the goodwill that Google have been able to build up, any chance it gets.

          • I have a Droid and let me tell you, trying to click on links on a touch interface is a pain. I very much do not ever want to attempt to do my main web browsing on a touch interface, ever.
            • by mattack2 (1165421)

              This is honestly not meant as an Android vs iOS statement. However, on my iPhone, I *rarely* open the wrong link. Once in a while (maybe once a week at most, and I use the browser many times a day) it happens, and I have to zoom the page to hit the correct link, when it's surrounded by a bunch of other links. But the vast majority of the time, it gets the right one. I wonder if Android uses a different heuristic for finding the touch point when your finger hits a big area.

            • by peragrin (659227)

              As the other poster said on iOS touching the wrong link is difficult. Maybe google should set some standards for touch resolution, as browsing the web on the iphone is a snap.

              The only feature that I want is the send to my device (to send url's images, clipboard data to and from my phone. I can buy it for the iphone but then i have to use a third party to host the data.

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      Yes because putting a Java JIT engine in a browser is easy; putting a Dalvik JIT engine in a browser is impossible!

      Why? Its the same basic concept, all you need is something to run dalvic bytecode and render the output in an on-screen area.

    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Monday December 06, 2010 @11:00AM (#34460414)

      Yes because putting a Java JIT engine in a browser is easy; putting a Dalvik JIT engine in a browser is impossible!

      First, Google can include things in Chrome OS that aren't part of the browser, and can allow the browser to provide access to them, so it wouldn't have to put the JIT engine in the browser.

      Second, there is no reason that Google couldn't build a Dalvik engine into the browser if they chose to. Heck, Chrome already includes facilities to run sandboxed arbitrary native code (Native Client), so certainly Google doesn't show any signs of conforming to conventional ideas of what "can't" be done in the browser.

      Google already has a Dalvik engine, building hooks for it into Chrome -- whether specific to Chrome OS or more generally -- is certainly not impossible.

      Google has NO WAY to leverage the base of tools and programs already created for their first OS, they will have to start from scratch...

      Google explicitly stated a long time ago that their long-term plan was to converge the two platforms. I doubt that they have that plan and no vision of how to accomplish that, and "throw everything out and start over" is probably not the course to convergence they have in mind.

  • Now that Chrome browser renders pdf files ridiculously fast, what else can Chrome OS do that Chrome Browser can't?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Daengbo (523424)

      Single signon to google apps in thirty seconds from cold boot.

      • by rsborg (111459)

        Single signon to google apps in thirty seconds from cold boot.

        I already get this on my Macbook Pro with SSD (Sandforce). If I disable login prompt and have it auto-launch Safari, it takes literally 20 seconds to get to Gmail from boot.

        I bet boot times are similar for say, a new Macbook Air which is a retail product.

        • you can do quite a bit better than a Chrome OS netbook can. The question becomes - how much did it cost to buy the Macbook Pro and then put a 3rd party SSD in it? Is a Chrome OS netbook without such power going to cost less (it certainly going to DO less than your setup so I can't imagine it would be as expensive)?

        • by Daengbo (523424)

          Oh, then in that case, you get an extra $800 in your pocket. You may like your purchase, but there's definitely a market for this (hint: Schmidt's a big fan of SunRays).

      • 30 seconds seems a bit long compared to my macbook pro with its SSD.
        • by Daengbo (523424)

          It could be less than 30 secs. I don't know. It will certainly cost over $800 less. Schmidt intends these to be appliances for enterprises running Google Apps (a.k.a. thin clients, a la SunRays, which he worked with).

    • It's not a replacement, Chrome OS uses the Chrome Browser. It's a replacement for Windows/MacOSX/Ubuntu/etc, for people who just use web apps anyway, or to have a faster OS for dual-boot and access some site.

    • run without MS windows nor Linux

      • Chrome OS is a Linux-based OS. Maybe you meant without a full Linux desktop environment like KDE or Gnome?

    • by rednip (186217)

      what else can Chrome OS do that Chrome Browser can't?

      Force the user to maintain a google account. From 'the three differences link':

      It's not a traditional fat-client...all of it's "applications" will be cloud-based.

      • Wait, how would it force a specifically Google account?

        Presumably, you can associate different local files with different web applications, which is about the only thing Chrome OS does other than show you webpages. Although Google has a spreadsheet offering, one of their Chrome OS demos was sticking a USB thumb drive into the netbook, clicking on an Excel document, and having it open in Microsoft's own Office Live.

        So if you're that fucking paranoid, there's absolutely nothing about Chrome OS which forces yo

    • Now that Chrome browser renders pdf files ridiculously fast, what else can Chrome OS do that Chrome Browser can't?

      It can be used by the user without going through the hoops of booting up another operating system and clicking through whatever desktop UI that presents to get to the browser.

      Chrome OS is essentially the Chrome browser with a specialized Linux distribution underneath designed to get out of the way with the browser as the main UI paradigm. Many of the features of Chrome browser are were developed

  • "It's a bit odd that we still haven't received an invite to this planned event"

    Yeah, seriously Google? Where's MY invite? I want to be there so I can then get paid to blog about it!
  • by Chrisq (894406) on Monday December 06, 2010 @08:14AM (#34458846)
    I don't know how to reconcile these differences with Sergey Brin's assertion that "Android and Chrome will likely converge over time" [cnet.com]. Does this mean that all we can say us:
    1. 1) Android is for Phones & Tablets; Chrome OS is for Netbooks for now but they may converge into a universal system
    2. 2) Chrome OS won’t run Linux desktop or Android Apps ... yet
    3. 3) Chrome OS Constantly Updated, but may go into a release cycle later as its capability expands [this isn't really an OS difference anyway]

    Or was the likely convergence prediction premature?

    • by Patch86 (1465427)

      The differences in TFA seem largely arbitrary to me.

      1) Android is for touch devices (despite the fact it works great with a keyboard, as demonstrated on netbooks), while ChromeOS will have no touch-screen capabilities (despite the fact there are no obstacles to implementing the relatively light-weight Android solution in ChromeOS as an option).

      2) ChromeOS won't have compatibility with Linux apps (despite being Linux based and running on the same hardware) or Android apps (despite them being Java-on-Linux ba

  • by Jugalator (259273) on Monday December 06, 2010 @08:15AM (#34458854) Journal

    He claims that Android is for the smaller formats, and Chrome OS for the netbooks. It's funny if this is Google's goal, since the netbooks use to have much more flexibility in offering better hardware and performance, not being tied to a small form factor, and then give it the OS that offer only a subset of Android's functionality. Android offers a full OS running native applications, along with the Chrone web browser -- where the latter is the *only* thing Chrome OS offers.

    I always found this aspect of Google's new operating systems weird. If Google were serious about Chrome OS, shouldn't that one have been aimed for the phones and tablets, with Android for the netbooks? Chrome OS is at least the OS that does less, and is more simple to the end user. It can basically only run a web browser (and all underlying stuff that's necessary to run that web browser compiled for Linux, of course).

    • by Daengbo (523424)

      Chrome OS is Google's enterprise push on top of Apps. it need a lot of bandwidth. the mobile world hasn't gotten there yet. expect Android to become more like Chrome OS over time.

      • by mlts (1038732) *

        If Google is going this route, they may be a bit presumptuous. Bandwidth is not going to increase with cellphones that much, and where you see it increase, large fees are tacked on (like VZW's LTE offering, or Sprint's WiMax.)

        If Google can get providers to get 20Mbps LTE Advanced without charging $10 a gig, this might be a workable solution. However, as of now where the going rate for bandwidth is $10 a gig, it just won't fly presently.

        • IIRC, the 4G standards call for a peak downstream rate of 1 Gb/s, which is multiple times what my cable provider gives me. If such speeds start rolling out within the next decade, this will be workable many times over.
    • It remains to be seen how expansive Google's interpretation of "web app" is...

      With their NaCl project, it could include entire native binaries, "installed" just by going to a web page, cached via HTML5 methods, sandboxed for security. Such a model wouldn't be very "web" of them; but it would mean that ChromeOS can do basically everything except run legacy applications not designed for it.
    • by joh (27088) on Monday December 06, 2010 @08:59AM (#34459124)

      If Google were serious about Chrome OS, shouldn't that one have been aimed for the phones and tablets, with Android for the netbooks? Chrome OS is at least the OS that does less, and is more simple to the end user. It can basically only run a web browser (and all underlying stuff that's necessary to run that web browser compiled for Linux, of course).

      I think Google was somewhat surprised by the success of Android. As so often Google threw lots of things at the wall and then looked what kept sticking. Android stuck extremely good and then Google looked at it and noticed they can't profit that much from it.

      Google is all about the Web and Chrome OS is nothing than a web browser. Use Chrome and you use the web and nothing else, which means you're bound to get served ads by Google and that's what Google wants. Use Android with lots of apps and the browser being just one app among others is not helping Google much.

      Google has never been really excited about Android being used on tablets, they actually tried very hard to convince everyone to use it only on smartphones. And now they still try to get Chrome OS at least onto netbooks.

      I don't think anyone will care much about what Google wants. Smartphone, tablet, netbook... running nothing but webapps sucks on all of them.

      • by whoop (194)

        That is why they bought Admob and then pursued Rovio to make Angry Birds free on Android with those ads. So now, Android is profitable.

    • He claims that Android is for the smaller formats, and Chrome OS for the netbooks. It's funny if this is Google's goal, since the netbooks use to have much more flexibility in offering better hardware and performance, not being tied to a small form factor, and then give it the OS that offer only a subset of Android's functionality. Android offers a full OS running native applications, along with the Chrone web browser -- where the latter is the *only* thing Chrome OS offers.

      Google developed Native Client fo

  • by MorpheousMarty (1094907) on Monday December 06, 2010 @08:29AM (#34458948)

    IMHO the only way Chrome OS is interesting is if it is released on netbooks that cost 150-200$ less than their Windows counterparts. Sure, it won't do everything a full OS does, but at a $250-300 price point, it would be very compelling for the same reasons netbooks were popular in the first place. If Chrome OS can bring netbooks back to their bare bones, dirt cheap, linux roots, they may have a hit on their hands. If they offer this for about the same price as a Win7 netbook, they shouldn't even bother.

    Anyone else have any ideas how this could be an interesting/successful product?

    • Isn't Windows XP licensed for netbooks at around $40? I doubt you will see much of a price decrease.
      • by Chrisq (894406) on Monday December 06, 2010 @08:47AM (#34459044)

        Isn't Windows XP licensed for netbooks at around $40? I doubt you will see much of a price decrease.

        There could be other factors like reduced need for local storage, (maybe) running better on a lower spec. processor and with less memory.

        • by 91degrees (207121)
          I suspect this is tactical. If it's a lot better than XP on the same resources, and has a decent selection of apps, and is no more expensive it may well gain a following. That could allow Google entry into the desktop/full size laptop market/
        • There could be other factors like reduced need for local storage

          Chrome OS runs web applications, and web applications that can work offline must make heavy use of CACHE MANIFEST [w3.org] and localStorage [w3.org], both of which can be big if someone tries to implement photo management (from your Android-powered camera?) as an offline web app.

        • reduced need for local storage is counterbalanced by the increased need for a permanent connection, which in the end is a lot more expensive and cumbersome than local storage.

          i doubt running apps as javascript within a browser requires less power than stand-alone, compiled apps.

          • reduced need for local storage is counterbalanced by the increased need for a permanent connection, which in the end is a lot more expensive and cumbersome than local storage.

            That is not the usagecase for Chrome OS. Although Chrome OS will allow you to work off-line, it expects you to do that only as a last resort. If you don't plan to spend the vast majority of your time on-line, then don't use Chrome OS.

            If you are buying internet just for your Chrome OS computer, it will be more expensive than local storage, but more likely you already have the connection, so it is not an additional cost of the OS.

            • If you are buying internet just for your Chrome OS computer, it will be more expensive than local storage, but more likely you already have the connection

              In some parts of the world, it's common to have a Wi-Fi connection inside some buildings (which have a public hotspot) but not others (which lack one), or to have a Wi-Fi connection inside buildings but nothing while riding public transit. In the United States, Google's home country, mobile phone service plans allowing tethering are uncommon, so one must purchase separate data plans for a phone and a PC.

      • Isn't Windows XP licensed for netbooks at around $40? I doubt you will see much of a price decrease.

        I think they could save a lot on hardware, for example local storage needs would be next to nil, so a 8gb flash drive could replace the hard drive. The system overhead should be much lower, so you could use a cheaper processor. All that would take some load off the battery, so you could trim that as well. In the end you could have a system which is just as fast as windows, but significantly cheaper.

        But all that is speculation, there is a lot that remains to be seen, Chrome OS may have severe issues, especia

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        A large amount of the savings should come from hardware.
        Windows must use and X86 while Chrome can run on ARM or maybe even MIPS

    • by iserlohn (49556)

      ChromeOS is compelling because netbooks are slow running native applications. With the underpowered CPU and lack of memory, it makes a lot more sense to run web apps. Just boot up to a quick and efficient browser and you have everything you need.

      • Yes, because running JavaScript and Ajax applications is so much faster than running native ones. /sarcasm/ And yes really how often are you without internet. Ooh can't connect to a wifi/my internet is out , I guess I wont do my homework...
        • And yes really how often are you without internet.

          There's a reason that Android Market officially works on smartphones and not PDAs or "smart MP3 players". Most of the popular phones can buy apps, but Archos 5 and Archos 43, which are the closest thing to an iPod touch, don't come with the Market app. Though Chrome supports HTML5's proposed offline app mechanisms (CACHE MANIFEST and localStorage), I imagine that Google is trying to target people who pay $$ per month for 3G cellular data. These people are more likely to use other Google services and look at

        • by delinear (991444)
          It depends on the app. If you're doing heavy duty number crunching, it may well be better to have a JavaScript interface and have the heavy lifting done on some dedicated server in the cloud, but I suspect for most people who just want to write up the odd essay, you're likely correct (besides, I suspect what we'll really see is the people behind the apps pushing all the data down onto the machine using HTML5 mechanisms so the client is still stuck doing the donkey work, just less efficiently, but maybe I'm
        • And yes really how often are you without internet.

          Never.

          No, seriously, absolutely fucking never. Disregarding the possibility of mobile connections, which would also give me Internet as a passenger on a road trip, I currently have Internet at every building on campus, including large swaths of central campus. Also pretty much every coffee shop or restaurant, even the cheap pizza joints have wifi now. Two of the last three times I've flown, there's been in-flight wifi.

          And that's disregarding mobile connections.

          A better question might be, when are you withou

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It's odd, I used to do much of what people do on their netbooks in 1997 with a Pentium 100 with 16MB of ram.....

      • by jonwil (467024)

        To me, ARM powered netbooks with some of those fancy higher-end ARM chips, a decent mobile GPU and maybe a hardware chip to decode video is what Chrome OS should be aiming for. If ARM is good enough for web apps on an iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, Android handset etc, it should be good enough for the same web apps on Chrome OS (and such a setup should get better battery life than any of the x86 ATOM Win7 laptops out there)

    • The obvious other way it could be an interesting/successful product is by doing what a large number of users want more cleanly and with less distractions than Windows. Which, after all, is largely the point of using the browser as the central UI paradigm.

      Its the same model that made the iPod a success -- and, for that matter, did the same for Google's clean-interface, good-results search engine in the era of search engines trying to be portals and everything else at the same time.

    • by goltzc (1284524)
      I really would like chrome OS on a tablet device. Seems like the perfect place to use it IMHO.
    • by Volvogga (867092)

      From the concept reading/videos that I have looked at, it seems that Google is looking to boot this thing straight from ROM. They state they are bypassing a lot of standard startup procedures and skipping any boot-loader; instead they are going to a kernel load and letting their OS do all that lifting (not because they can do it better than the hardware manufactures, but because, I would think, they don't actually want all that hardware there that you could do something with that isn't on the cloud). This m

  • by Twinbee (767046) on Monday December 06, 2010 @09:07AM (#34459186) Homepage
    I'm closer to being a Google fan than most probably, but after seeing the video, they intend to abolish the desktop, and nothing (yes none of your own files) will be stored on your own computer. I'm sorry, but ignoring everything else, I dread the amount of lag if everything ran off the internet. Programs such as Photoshop or Visual Studio would download every time instead of run immediately? No thanks.

    In a perfect world with infinite bandwidth, and no lag, maybe it's doable.

    What would make me truly respect them is if they came up with something like BeOS, or QNX (Haiku), but which also had a metadata/database file system [skytopia.com] where everything is searched for, and folders become less of an issue (or not needed at all). Encouraging programs to be more self-contained would also be a step forwards too.
    • by jimicus (737525)

      See, I don't think that's entirely impossible. Google for Domains already provides Docs, and while that's no competitor to Microsoft Office yet, the key word here is "yet". For basic tasks, it's a perfectly competent office suite, it works perfectly well over a plain ADSL connection today and it's included automatically with Google for Domains. Which costs rather less per user than Exchange.

      There is a reason Microsoft are terrified of Google, a reason why Steve Ballmer throws chairs. It has nothing to d

    • by yelvington (8169)

      I dread the amount of lag if everything ran off the internet. Programs such as Photoshop or Visual Studio would download every time instead of run immediately?

      That's now how it works. [google.com]

    • by delinear (991444)
      I think the intention is that either the app would run on the server side and you'd just have an in-browser JavaScript GUI (so instead of downloading that 60MB PSD you're working on, you'd get a 200k PNG represenation or whatever), OR the libraries etc required to run the app would be cached client side (using HTML5) so the app can run almost entirely locally. I suspect Google would like the first approach, since it puts everything in "the cloud" - their domain - but in reality I think companies will like t
    • by Anonymous Coward

      they intend to abolish the desktop

      FINALLY!!!! Linux on the desktop once the desktop is abolished. Oh, the irony.

    • by rmcd (53236) *

      I agree with you that this makes no sense, which makes me hope that the "nothing stored on the local computer" is a bit of an exaggeration. *Some* of the time, you are going to be without an internet connection and you may still want to work on that document or read/write e-mail.

      We're a long way from people asking "Off-line? What does that mean?"

      • I agree with you that this makes no sense, which makes me hope that the "nothing stored on the local computer" is a bit of an exaggeration.

        I think its a bit of a simplification. From everything else I've seen from them on Chrome OS, I think its perhaps more accurate to say that the real intent is nothing stored directly on the local filesystem by applications (other than basic OS components.) Things might be cached in the browser cache, stored using HTML5 local storage APIs, and so forth, and by those mean

    • Can't watch the video ATM, but unless they have radically changed their goals I don't think the point is to completely replace the desktop. Programs such as Photoshop and Visual Studio are not run by the masses and I don't believe they intend to kill those off. Most people use their computer for email, web browsing, web video, and maybe some light document editing. All of these are completely possible with just a web browser and google apps. This type of usage on netbooks and nettops are the target market f

    • by asvravi (1236558)

      Paint Shop Pro was 2MB in size, it would take a few seconds to download at today's speeds. Not everything has to be as bloated as Photoshop or Visual Studio.

    • What would make me truly respect them is if they came up with something like BeOS, or QNX (Haiku)

      I'm sorry but Haiku and QNX have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Haiku is a clean room implementation of BeOS. Two entirely different things. The only thing Haiku and QNX have in common is that they are both alternative Operating Systems.

      • by Twinbee (767046)
        Yes, I realised that after posting it. Slashdot doesn't have an editing facility though as you know.
  • What does this give us except perhaps security in a less is more sense? Moving processing/storage etc to the cloud and eliminating the microsoft tax might allow cut rate hardware though.
  • while Android will continue to be popular. That is the real difference.
  • Of *course* ChromeOS will eventually run Android apps. There is no good reason not to. And Dalvik runs on both ARM and x86 today. Also Android phones will be able to use Chrome OS apps because they are HTML5 or Flash.
  • Anyone know if this thing is going to have even limited support for USB peripherals/drives? With the browser being the OS (at least it sounds like), would you even be able to load up photos from a camera hooked up via a USB cable, to view on the (relatively) larger screen of the netbook? Will you be able to do any sort of printing to a USB or network printer? Will it support reading and writing files from/to USB flash drives, SD cards (i.e. the types used in most cameras and phones)? I wouldn't expect to ru

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