I'm live blogging while the Chrome OS Webcast is occurring. Today, Google has released the code to Chrome OS for open source developers. You can download it here: http://src.chromium.org/
Google is explaining how the OS is really a souped up browser (Chrome) and how this will speed it, improve security and eliminate the need for applications on a hard drive.
Google says devices will be available in about one year -- holiday season 2010. One big takeaway ... Google will be dictating to netbook OEMs the hardware requirements -- down to the component level -- to run Google ChromeOS. It will not be the kind of thing that you can download and run on any machine. It not support a hard drive. It will require a solid state disk. Google will tell OEMs what kind of wireless cards to run. It will also require slightly larger netbooks -- with full sized keyboards, high resolution screens.
Android apps won't run on ChromeOS. Neither will other browsers.
I'm gathering up photos from today's demo and have people looking at the source code to give me their opinions (want to hear yours, too). In the meantime, here's a rather dorky, dumbed down video produced by Google marketing that gives you a glimpsed.
The device won't be able to load drivers. But will support devices that have storage ... like cameras or thumb drives. Google is working on "something innovative" to allow ChromeOS devices to support printers, but promises that it will.
As for accessibility for when an Internet connection is down. That's a bit of a problem. Google says that these devices are essentially web devices, intended as companion devices to another PC you would own for your offline work. However, Google said that it would be up to the application developers to add offline capability to their Web apps. If a Web app can access the device's solid state storage, so the app and data are available offline, then these devices will support that. Google has a project out there that does such a thing, Google Gears. Not many Web apps support it at the moment. I suppose that would change if lots of Chrome OS devices were sold.
Here's a quick demonstration video of Chrome OS