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Chromium OS

Russ asks:

What is Chromium OS? Is it an operating system that can be used by an average computer user without knowledge of programming, just the average guy who uses Windows?

Russ, as an average (or perhaps below average) guy who uses Windows, what I can tell you is that the answer to this question has been difficult for me to understand. But I’ll attempt to explain it anyway. Chromium OS is an open source operating system, that is basically an enhanced web browser, still in the development phase. This will be a cloud based system, meaning most, if not all, work will be performed on the web.

According to Google, “Chromium OS is an open-source project that aims to build an operating system that provides a fast, simple, and more secure computing experience for people who spend most of their time on the web.” Chromium OS is comparable to Google’s Chromium, which was an open source project that provided the foundation upon which Google’s Chrome browser was eventually built. In similar fashion, Google has offered a platform for developers to find the open source code for Chromium OS, with which they (the developers) can build or tweak the elements of an operating system.

The fruit of this labor will likely be used in the development of Chrome OS, a stripped down operating system; a web browser, with no installed programs. All interaction will take place on the internet. Applications will be available, but they’ll be web based, rather than installed. Examples of apps currently available include Gmail, YouTube, and Google Docs along with several others (see below), with more in development.


Initially, this OS will be offered to consumers in netbooks, with plans to make it available for laptops and PCs in the future. However, the Chrome OS will only be installed on hardware approved by Google. The launch was supposed to take place in November, but will more likely happen in early 2011.

Aside from the obvious profit motive, Google may have pursued Chromium OS due to real or perceived security weaknesses in Windows operating systems. It’s rumored that Google employees are required to use either Mac or Linux, and must get special clearance to use Windows.

As someone with a website, who works for an internet based company, and who does most of his correspondence and work electronically, I should embrace a browser based operating system. However, I like the idea of being able to access applications and files with or without a web connection. And, while I haven’t used web based applications enough to make a valid comparison, it’s difficult to believe that the extensive editing capabilities of installed software (Photoshop, MS Office, etc.), can be matched by existing web based software.

For more on Chrome OS, Google has provided several informational videos. Links to two of them can be found below.

What is Google Chrome OS? [1]
Google Chrome OS UI Concept Video [2]

Russ, thanks for the question. I hoped this helped.