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Google Chrome OS - the story so far

Round-up of rumours ahead of today's announcement

Google Chome OS, which Google is expected to preview today, has been the subject of much speculation and rumours since its announcement last summer, when Google made public its plans to develop a lightweight, open-source Linux-based OS aimed primarily at netbooks. Ever since, a series of fake screenshots and speculation as to what Chrome will offer has bombarded the web.

Google Chrome OS: the Facts

Unfortunately, so far we know very little in terms of solid facts about Google's Chrome OS project, with the company providing only scant details. The Linux-based OS, which is built upon the company's browser of the same name, is expected to arrive in the second half of 2010, and although it will be geared toward netbooks, it'll run on higher-end PCs as well. Google has revealed a number of the manufacturers involved in the project, such as Acer, Asus, HP, and Lenovo. Intel is also in on the act.

Google's focus has been on providing a speedy, simple, and secure OS. The operating system will be heavily oriented around the web, and will likely make heavy use of cloud computing. Chrome OS is by no means the first cloud-centric OS, but it will undoubtedly make an impact on the industry, effectively changing the more commonplace 'windowing' system people are more familiar with.

Beyond these limited details we know that the Google Chrome OS will run on x86 and ARM processors, and all of Chrome's web applications will work not only on the new OS but also on any standards-based browser. Although this effectively means that Chrome OS will see no exclusive software, it's all good news for developers as they can create one single application and see it work on the largest number of platforms, be it Chrome OS, Mac, Windows, or other flavors Linux.

Chrome OS Screenshots & Speculation

The first batch of fake screenshots surfaced within days of Google's announcement; one blogger clamed to have seen a "private developer beta" at an Acer preview event. Within hours the clearly fake screenshots made the rounds on a number of blogs and news sites, and links to the images were all over Twitter. Within less than 24 hours over 120,000 people had viewed the original images, and it wasn't long before the hoaxer came clean, openly admitting the screenshots were a "really bad attempt".

The second round of fake screenshots arrived shortly after that, this time premiering on Endgadget thanks to an anonymous tipster. These alleged shots claimed to be part of the 'Chrome OS Alpha 1.01' build, and like the earlier "screenshots," lacked the authenticity to be taken to seriously. Not only was the timing suspicious, but the images features some odd user interface (UI) elemenrts, such as a horrifically chunky blue scroll bar.

However, this second batch of images did exhibit some interesting ideas as to how the new windowing system could be implemented, borrowing the Chrome browser's tab interface to display information. For example, Picasa, Google's photo management software, is seen running in its own independent browser-like tab. These screens also showed a status bar providing information on battery life, speaker volume, web connection, and so on.


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