In case you haven’t heard (really?), Google has re-invented the wheel, and is gearing up to release their brand new Operating System.
Until this year (it’ll like be released in the second half of 2010), there have been three choices for operating systems:
- Windows (PC)
- OSX (Mac)
- Linux (Geek)
Yes there are hundreds of different flavors and versions, but there really are only three main OS’s being used by any sort of numbers.
That is until Google announced they’re going to change the world with Chrome OS.
Since it’s not out yet, it’s not possible to tell you everything about it, but we already know a lot. Here are the facts:
- Open source, this means it’s free.
- Is built to run on specific hardware with no local data storage.
- Requires the internet to function.
- No programs are installed locally; all applications used must be Web Apps.
- There are no program updates, patches or viruses, since nothing is actually stored on your computer.
- You can never “lose” data, since it’s always stored on Google’s servers.
Well, instead of writing out all the facts about Chrome, just watch their video:
Here’s a video showing an early “concept” version of Chrome. The actual version is planned to look and function almost exactly like you see here.
So now you know what Chrome OS is. Here’s why I hate it:
I just had a huge argument with a good friend of mine about this issue. The problem I have is this: Once you’re using Chrome OS, Google now has access to, indexes and stores everything you do in your life. This means they have 100% full access to:
- Your email
- Your documents
- Everything you ever search or do on the web
- Every conversation you ever have with any other person online
- All Personal information you put online
- Phone calls (assuming you start using Google’s phone services)
- All images you have or view
- Every video you ever search for, or look at online
Now to me, this seems like a gross violation of privacy. My friend’s argument is that even if you don’t use Chrome OS, the same stuff is already happening to you.
Go read the privacy agreement you accepted with Facebook, you’ve given them access to everything but your second born … your first born belongs to them.
Lots of programs you have installed already have the ability to scan every file and process on your computer and send back the information to the owners of the product.
So his argument is “You’re already screwed, so why not get screwed while using a product that actually works?”
My argument is this: Other companies are being sneaky, or are outright stealing information on you. With Chrome OS, you’re offering to give it all to them. Seems like lying down without a fight.
There have been many claims and theories about Google having a connection with the FBI, CIA or other government agencies, but as of yet it has never been confirmed as fact.
Who knows, maybe Google saves records of everything you ever do on your computer just for fun (they say it’s for targeting specific advertising to specific users).
4) Auto Updating
Although some people call this a perk, the fact that since every program you’re using is a web app means you never have to update any program, ever. Once there’s an update the program will be updated. You’ll never have to actually do anything yourself.
Unfortunately, this isn’t really a good thing. Not every update makes a program better; in fact some updates make programs significantly worse. But most of all, I don’t like the idea that absolutely everything I do on my computer is out of my control.
If they decide they don’t like your favorite web app and remove it, too bad, it’s gone. Although this may never actually be a problem it still bugs me.
It’s like when I yell at my roommate when he puts my chef knife in the sink. I’ve never cut off my fingertip before, but just knowing that it could happen upsets me.
3) Forced Google Gears Monopoly
The world erupted in a cry of “monopoly” and “un-ethical business practices” when Microsoft first packaged Internet Explorer with Windows.
They said that it created a monopoly, and killed the business of any other browser, such as Netscape (which was kind of big back in those days).
Now with Google OS, you literally cannot use any browser other than Chrome. You can’t use any word processor other than Google docs (until someone else builds a web-based office suite). In fact, at this point, you can’t do ANYTHING on your computer, unless it’s made by Google.
Not only is this about 18 million times worse than what Microsoft did, no one’s putting up any resistance.
Sure, Chrome OS is free, so it’s hard to say that anything it does is un-ethical, but let’s be serious. If no one who purchases a Chrome OS Netbook has the ability to use any browser other than chrome, that seems like the definition of a monopoly.
Finally, Chrome doesn’t even work for some web pages. About 10% of the work I do on the internet is incompatible with Chrome. As much as I like the browser (yes I’m a hypocrite), I can’t function online if it’s my only choice. Yes, these incompatibilities are a result of poorly written code, and web pages using non-standard compliant functions.
City roads aren't supposed to have potholes either, but that doesn't mean you should build a car without struts. I wish everyone who wrote web pages did it correctly, but until that wish comes true, I need access to a browser that actually works.
2) No Local Files
It seems really nice that you never have to backup your data, can never lose data, and any computer you ever sit at (using Chrome OS or the Google web apps) will have access to all of your data.
Seems really convenient right?
Here are the problems:
- The hundreds or thousands of songs you’ve downloaded (and paid for, obviously), are no longer of any use to you. You can’t store them on your computer. To use them you need to carry an external hard drive, and you have to find a web app which will read that HD and play the songs. As of right now, I don’t know of any such app.
- Every video you have, same problem you’ll have with music. There’s no such thing as an in-browser VLC media player.
- Also, if you can’t store local files, it’s no longer possible to have a database on your computer. This means no more poker hand databases, or player notes.
1) No Local Programs
It’s not really important that you can’t store a local database of poker hands, since you can no longer install any programs. This means a couple of things for us poker players:
- You can only play on sites which offer in-browser online play.
- It’s impossible to use Poker Tracker, Hold’em Manager or any other poker database/HUD/stats tool.
- You can’t save player notes on any site which stores these notes on your local drive. As far as I know, all poker sites operate this way.
Even away from the poker world, no local programs means: No local games (shut down your COD:MW2 or WOW account), Photoshop, Video Editing, Winamp, iTunes (ohh yeah, you can’t update your iPod or iPhone anymore), Skype, Outlook, Thunderbird… basically everything you use on your computer every day, well you can’t anymore.
Unless the only things you ever do on your computer are: Email (online email only), Internet browsing and occasional word processing (you must have constant, reliable, internet connection) then Chrome OS is not for you.
In short, Chrome OS is probably the perfect operating system for your grandmother, or your step mother who has never turned on a computer before. But for anyone who uses a computer, plays games, or more importantly plays online poker, stay far away.
Before I sign off, I do want to mention that I absolutely love the idea of Google Chrome OS. It's a huge step forward in how we believe computers should function, and it truly has the ability to change the world via the technology we use every day. I'm glad they came out with it, as I believe it's the first step towards a rather awesome future of technology.
Unfortunately, these first steps are almost certain to include a stumble or two. Until everything we do on a computer embraces the idea of constant connectivity, and 3rd party data management, Chrome OS will never be the best OS choice for the serious computer user.