Chrome OS Gets Grade of C-

Is the world ready see computers through a Google-colored web browser?

You either see Chrome OS's all browser OS approach as revolutionizing the PC industry or then next "technology solution looking for a problem" doomed to fail. Google's approach with Chrome OS is certainly radically different from the Windows, Mac OS and Linux approach we've used since the birth of the personal computer industry in the seventies.

Some might say it's time for a rebirth, a complete next generation approach that distances itself from the current PC OS (and virtually all other computing OS') paradigm. It's akin to the crossing the chasm metaphor entrepreneurial businesses face. You either make that leap from a small or moderately successful start up to one that really takes off. (See my blog post about the Chrome OS announcement and security improvements in Chrome OS.)

Can Chrome OS make the leap from interesting sideshow to a unquestionable success? Here's my Chrome OS scorecard at this very, very early stage of Chrome OS' existence.

1. Leap In Price/Performance. Grade = B. Chrome OS hates non-Chrome OS software. Not happening, no way. It's a closed system from a software perspective, which eliminates the potential of 3rd party software, background processes, or anti-virus software going rogue chewing up resources and degrading performance. Google is also very picky about the hardware Chrome OS will run on. Specific chip sets, solid state drive.

From a theoretical standpoint, Chrome OS might get an A or B+ in this category but we haven't seen the full hardware specs, nor can we experience Chrome OS running on a compliant device, and we don't know the price points for Chrome OS devices. It's early so we'll give Chrome OS a grade of B until we have more facts.

2. Versatility vs. Special Purpose. Grade = D. Chrome OS is more than just and OS. It's defined by the web apps Google, and others, deliver through that browser. Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google [fill in the blank], etc. means it's a multi-purpose device. Because everything is delivered through the browser, the world is your oyster, provided it runs in a browser.

Depending on your belief about the world moving away from installed apps solely to browser-based apps, then you or may not buy Google's Chrome OS argument. I don't happen to believe the 100% browser story. I believe the world is moving to virtualized apps, app components and app services that can be distributed between PC, mobile device, server and the cloud. Apps aren't installed, they run in a virtual machine wrapper, just like OS's do today with VMware, Xen, Hyper-V, Virtual Box, Parallels and others.

3. Do New Things We Can't Do Today. Grade = D-. Does Chrome OS let you use a computing device to do things you can't otherwise do today, or couldn't do without significant difficulty or inconvenience? No. Functionally, a Chrome OS device delivers a much smaller subset of what a PC OS does today. It's not a special purpose device OS, used for a specific task or use case. Chrome OS' premise is that you will do everything you do today through a Chrome browser. More than anything, this is the radical bet Google's making, and why Chrome OS succeeding is such a big question.

4. Jump In Reliability and Stability. Grade = B. The same reasons Chrome OS theoretically delivers better price/performance, could make it a much more stable and reliable operating system. Complexity of a traditional OS is greatly reduced. Tight hardware specification means driver issues close to a non-issue.

And no installed 3rd-party software means compatibility issues aren't a factor either. Since data is stored in the cloud, there aren't issues with losing data on the device, though we've seen cloud / SaaS services have their availability and data loss problems on occasion too (ah-hem... Microsoft Danger, Google Gmail, Blackberry network... ah-hem.)

Proof is in the pudding and all we have to go on today is an extremely early version of Chrome OS and no devices. So again, in theory, Chrome OS should deliver a more reliable and stable experience.

Where we stand today. Final Grade = D-

It's early. There's more to unfold with the Chrome OS software, compatible hardware and additional apps and capabilities from Google. Google's

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