Make a grab for it
In essence, Chrome OS is just another platform to learn that’s just a bit different to what you’re used to. Hell, Linux has the same problem. And that’s where the resistance lies for mainstream users. That, and the Chrome OS fatal flaw: without the internet, it doesn’t do much that’s useful. But as most of us are connected – our desktop PCs in particular – it’s a gamble that Google’s Chrome OS seems happy to make.
Chrome OS isn't unique in trying to get users to think different
Google isn’t unique in moving the goalposts with the tried and trusted models. I’m still grappling with Mac OS X Lion’s quirks and, rather than bend to Apple’s current vision of doing things, I’m constantly looking to find workarounds so I can do routine tasks as quickly as before. Having an OS that nags you because it woke up after an upgrade and now thinks you’re stupid, is a tedious affair, but I digress.
Talking of stupid and tedious, have you tried printing on Chrome OS? It’ll keep. Let’s kick off with the out-of-the-box experience. It’s quick to start, that’s for sure. Google reckons eight seconds and I concur. This speed makes the hardware appear much more nifty than it would be running another platform. With peripherals plumbed in, you go through the motions of language, keyboard type and network connection. Ignore the licence agreement – like you’ll read it, huh? – log in or create a Google account and then choose a pretty picture. And you’re in.
What you’re in though, is a bit of a mystery. The hints splash page confused me immediately. One of its arrows points to window resizing on the display page – fine, I’m with you – but the others are not pointing at anything within the page, but beyond it. However, I thought this was some kind of Windows Metro trick where menus would appear if I hovered around a corner long enough. But in this case, I needed to think outside the box. A
dock launcher on the left has shortcuts to apps and the right corner is home to various preferences. I guess if the splash page had matched my screen size properly, these helpful hints would have been a more obvious from the off.
One of the first things I did was to tweak the speed of the mouse – an old wired Logitech that crawls without its native drivers. I’m sure it’s not the only mouse that will behave this way on Chrome OS. The next thing on the list was to learn to take screen grabs. Now this should have been easy, but the help menu says Control + weird looking icon that is nowhere to be seen on the cruddy Dell keyboard I’m using. The Help doesn’t even say what it’s called.
Configuration details are patchy but you can switch between releases
A bit of Googling on Googliness – which feels suspiciously like the serpent eating its tail – and the answer appeared on Chromebook Central, a Google forum where folk regularly share gripes about undocumented changes. The quirky, not so Qwerty key is: Switch to your next window. But that didn’t help either, as it’s not marked on this keyboard. So, switch to your next function key and see what happens. A few prods later and Control + F5 caused the screen to blink. Ahh, that’s better. The images end up in the local Downloads folder.
Next page: Do you copy?
Was Chrome, as an OS still born?
I'm increasingly not seeing the point Chrome when I can buy a Windows device that does more the money. OTOH, as a desktop/Netbook play, I could see Android (with full Chrome browser experience) succeeding where Chrome is clearly failing.
Good review BTW; it's about time a reviewer took Chrome by the balls.
I am a bit surprised that Pi can't do an IDE. It may be far below modern standards (I assumed it would be on par with a PIII 700 rather than a PII 300 but either way), but it was not so very long ago we were using 300MHz PII with 256Mb RAM as desktop PCs - I worked with Visual C++ 6, Borland JBuilder and MS Office on such PCs as did everyone else, probably only a decade ago. And those PCs had nothing in the way of GPU acceleration at all.
And with Linux being so much faster than Windows (semi serious Linux barb) that should make it usable as a low-power PC. If not why not?
No device that needs 100% Internet, 100% of the time is ever going to work unless you have pre-loaded front end apps that can support Internet outages in the short term.
As a writer I use Google Docs to do a lot of work on the road. When Google is not available all I have on my PC is a 1K shortcut to my doc which does nothing for me.
Put it on the cloud, that is fine, but give me a copy to play with.
Re: I already have a virus-free up-to-date OS
I like Windows 7 as much as the next man but calling it virus free is worse than a Mac fanboi saying his platform is virus free.
Chrome OS has Linux at its core, and I believe the apps run in sandboxed web browser processes. You really shouldn't bother with computers if you think that's the same level of security as Windows 95.
@ Charles Calthorp - Re: when my raspberry pi comes
That Pi fits into that tin as much as this girl fits into these shorts: http://momgrind.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/muffintop.JPG