As Google announces that Chrome OS will be available in mid-2011 on devices from Acer and Samsung, one thing I’ve heard from tech pundits is ‘why’ another OS? How just a browser isn’t enough. Or why not pay more for a full-featured laptop?
In my opinion, the ‘why’ and the reason Chrome OS will be successful is the facts that Google wants to make it the “most secure consumer OS ever shipped,” and I also think people’s computer habits are changing.
When it comes to techie folks, I think many of us balk at our machines ever getting infected with viruses, malware, or letting anything bad into our systems. But at the same time, we’re constantly hounded by friends and family to ‘clean’ their computer because its been compromised.
The real world I see when doing in-home computer service are approximately half if not more of the computers I come across are infected with some sort of malware.
With Chrome OS, there shouldn’t be any dark spaces for malware to hide. According to Google’s Sundar Pichai, Chome OS devices will be the first to have verified boot. In addition to tight security, Chrome OS will offer sandboxing and will allow apps to run only in their own private session.
Verified boot involves storing the initial boot code in read-only memory, thus checking for any system compromises. It will use both a kernel and firmware-based verification system. When combined, the two verification system will detect changes at boot time and provide a secure recovery path so that new installs are safe from past attacks.
Sandboxing includes mandatory access control implementation which limits resource, process, and kernel interactions. Additional file system restrictions include user home directories that can’t have executables.
In addition to security, people’s computer habits are changing. With Google Chrome OS on a laptop, users can do all the lightweight tasks such as surf the internet and checking email.
This fits my current habits. When it’s time to do heavyweight tasks such as video and photo editing, I use my desktop. Checking the latest Twitter updates and gmail can be done on the couch, within the safety of Chrome OS.
Will Chrome OS break out of the malware-infected world of Microsoft and succeed where others haven’t? I’m not sure, but what the majority of computer users endure now to keep safe while surfing the internet isn’t working, so why not try something radically different?