Live-blogging the Google Chrome OS event

I’m sitting in a room at Google waiting to hear more about Google Chrome OS. You can watch the webcast along with me if you like.

For starters, here’s what Google announced about Chrome OS back in July. At that time, Google called out “speed, simplicity and security” as the key ideas behind Chrome OS. Google released Chrome a little over a year ago with a novel idea–a comic book to describe the features and design decisions behind Chrome.

Looks like Danny Sullivan is live blogging too.

Google OS just noticed that the source code for Chrome OS is available. (Maybe they’ll call the open version “Chromium OS”?)

Sundar Pichai (a Vice President of Product Management at Google) is talking about the progress of Google Chrome over the last year, and the progress of HTML5 as well. Pichai notes some large-scale trends:
– Netbooks are becoming more popular.
– Hundreds of millions of users are living in the cloud. [Yup, I went Microsoft-free as a challenge and I haven’t looked back. I do almost everything I need to do in a browser.]
– Innovation in computing devices. For example, phones are getting smarter and more capable–more like mini-computers.

MG Siegler is live-blogging over on TechCrunch.

Every application in Chrome OS is a web application. Sundar Pichai repeated this for emphasis. That means “don’t expect to be able to run .exe files.” 🙂

Pichai emphasizes that Speed, Simplicity, and Security are the pillars of Chrome OS:
– Speed: the goal is that boot and execution is blazingly fast. The OS currently boots in 7 seconds.
– Simplicity: the browser is the front-end. If you can run a browser, you should be able to use Chrome OS.
– Security: no code is installed on the system, so detecting malicious processes is easier.

Demo time! 7 seconds to boot. Ooh, they’ve been running the demo on a Chrome OS machine. 🙂 The UI is still in flux (final machines might not appear for a year).

Chrome OS looks very much like Chrome. There’s an extra pinned tab on the left-hand side to open web applications. When you open up a web application, up pops a “mole” (because it comes from underground) that’s a persistent small window. These “moles” are expected to be called “panels” in the external release. The panels persist as you move between tabs and can be minimized down to the bottom right or they can be closed.

You can also have different windows or workspaces, so you could have a set of tabs for some work and a set of tabs for blog post and switch between them easily. You can drag and drop tabs just like with Chrome.

You can plug in a phone and browse pictures or video files. Then from there you could upload stuff to the web. They showed Flash working. Everything is web-based, e.g. they took a Excel file and loaded it into SkyDrive and viewed it using a Microsoft web app for viewing Excel files.

I want this OS, like now. Matt Papakipos, an engineering director at Google, just announced that they’re releasing the Chrome OS. They’re also releasing a bunch of design docs, not just code. Everything is flash-memory-based–no hard drive.

Matt Papakipos is talking about verified boot. It looks like the Chrome OS team is working hard to verify that code is secure via cryptographic signatures. If you get typical malware, you just reboot–seven seconds later, you’re clean again. Chrome OS does a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure that from the firmware upwards, everything is secure and has the latest patches. The application security model changes in Chrome OS. Instead of running with the privileges of “you” (e.g. administrator capabilities). Under Chrome OS, web applications can’t change your underlying hardware settings, so things are safely sandboxed (chroot, namespaces, stack protection, toolchain). The root partitiion in file system is read-only, including the Chrome executable, which is unusual.

User data is encrypted on a Chrome OS machine. If you lose your laptop, the attacker gets nothing of value. Aside: what will people call these machines? Netbook? Chromebook? Webbook? Webtop? Chrometop? I don’t know what people will decide to call these machines. I like “chromebook.” 🙂 User data and settings are synced to the cloud. So if you have a wifi network you’ve configured, that data is stored in the cloud. If you dunk your “Chromebook” in a pool or lose it, it sounds like you can pick a new one off the shelf, log in, and it will be as if you never lose your machine.

You can’t download Chrome OS and be guaranteed it will work on a random machine. Target time is end of next year. Google will work to ensure that these machines will be a good experience (good keyboard, resolution). They want compelling devices.

Google is going to be good open-source citizens and contribute code upstream (e.g. to Linux, Ubuntu, Moblin). [I’ve seen this with Chrome and it’s worked well.]

We’re watching this video which is on the Google Chrome channel on YouTube:

Okay, it looks like Google has released a ton of Chromium OS videos on the Chrome channel on YouTube.

Question: How much will it cost?
Answer: You’ll hear that from our partners. Expect prices in the range of what people expect for computer products today.

Question: What are machine you running?
Answer: Sundar Pichai says that the demo was running on an off-the-shelf EEE PC.

Question: Standards?
Answer: MattP: Google is going to be a good citizen on pushing web standards forward, but standards take a while to be finalized. They want e.g. HTML5 to run in multiple browsers.

Questions: Drivers and hardware?
Answer: We’re looking for high-quality components with open-source drivers wherever possible.

Question: Applications?
Answer: Use case is web only. Again, don’t expect to run .exe files on a “Chromebook.” Web-based applications (e.g. photo-editing) can do most of what you want. If you’re a lawyer and editing Word files all day, this wouldn’t be your preferred machine. Sundar mentions that this might be your “backup” machine in that you might want a “primary” machine that can run Windows or Mac apps, but your Chrome machine might actually be your “primary” machine in terms of the time you spend.

Question: Compatibility between Chrome and Chrome OS?
Answer: Everything that works in Chrome works in Chrome OS. Things like Native Client are an important of this story.

Question: Will it run different browsers?
Answer: “Chrome is the OS.” End-to-end is/will be open-source. If someone wanted to make a similar OS with a different browser, they can. But don’t expect e.g. Opera to run under Chrome OS.

Questions: Is this netbook-only?
Answer: Initially focused on netbook-type form factors because they want a compelling experience. Can go bigger later, but for 2010 focusing on netbook.

Questions: Call out hardware partners?
Answer: Probably in the middle of next year?

Question: Size of the code base?
Answer: It’s open, so people can check it out themselves. They want to simplify things, so they don’t want a huge code base.

Question: Any offline access?
Answer: Primarily intended for wifi connectivity. If you use HTML5 you could in theory do offline. You could plug in media and run (say) a Flash game off of the media too. [For example, I played Machinarium, which is a Flash-based game, offline on a plane with my vanilla Ubuntu machine on a recent trip.]

Questions: Wide-band or other unusual networking?
Answer: Mainly focused on 802.11n.

Question: Can it be run in a virtual machine?
Answer: Yes.

Question: Can Android apps run?
Answer: No, only web apps.

Question (Mike Arrington): No plans for native executables?
Answer: Current plan is to only support web apps.
Arrington: That’s exactly what Steve Jobs said, and he changed his stance within a year.
Sundar Pichai: But even the

Question: Native Client implies an Intel processor. Do you plan to support ARM? < - [Smart question from InfoWorld.] Answer: (Pichai) we want to work with a wide variety of possible partners. MattP seemed to indicate interest in ARM. Question: timeframe for non-netbooks? Answer: Focused on netbook for 2010. Question: Business model? Answer: Just people using the web more can be really good for Google. Every app is the same web app (seemed to imply no additional ads). The OS is free/open-source, so you could always strip out ads. But the demo didn't show any ads. [This question reminded me of the people who claimed that Android would be a mobile phone OS that would show ads everywhere. That clearly didn't happen.] Question: Reliability? e.g. Gmail down for two hours stalls me. [My answer: Cloud-based services are still more reliable than client-based solutions ]

Sergey Brin just showed up.

Question: storage devices?
Answer: Anything that identifies itself as storage should work. They’re taking a new approach to printing (Chrome OS will be able to print) but will share details later.

Question from Niall Kennedy: With Chrome, the release was a stake in the ground and about inviting the community in to help out. This event seems similar?
Answer: Exactly. Officially supported hardware will take a while, but the community can come and join in.

Question: Is this a “War of the Clouds”?
Answer from Sergey: We focus on user needs rather than obsess about strategy. There’s a real user need to use computers easily. You could buy a bunch of netbooks, but managing the software would be unwieldy. If your machine is “stateless” then they’re much easier to use.

64 Responses to Live-blogging the Google Chrome OS event (Leave a comment)

  1. Matt live blogging? Should be fun. 🙂 Shouldn’t you use Google Wave? Ah, can’t embed a wave yet…

  2. Just like you, the much u are waiting to hear more about Google Chrome OS from google, we r waiting to hear more about it from you too, because we believe on your words.
    Please write something on google chrome in your blog also, after the webcast…

  3. Can you take pictures and upload them here of the slides they are presenting?

  4. Very Very Very exciting video

  5. I was laughing while watching that video because it reminded me of that Odd Todd video he did years ago about getting laid off. Epipheo studios did a nice job with it.

  6. Web has evolved since Apple tried cloud concept, might be time for this.
    Great for home use, campus, but for all off-liners, keep a dual boot.

  7. It’s about time old Bill had some serious competition in this area.

  8. This is really exciting. This should serve the needs of most people online. My background is in design and the only concern I have is the time it would take to upload large files to work with if Adobe moves their offerings online. Internet in Canada is so lame for uploads in most neighbourhoods.

    The other question is cost for these web apps. With a current machine you can buy it and run your OS and apps as long as the machine lasts if you don’t have cash to upgrade. But if for example Adobe moved to a subscription based model, we would be constantly paying to use our machines each month. Unless of course Google is planning some free alternatives to Adobe products? Matt…?

    Either way this is the future. It’s been clear for a few years now and I’m really happy to hear the news from Google.

  9. kerching. i cant wait for this. 75% of what i do now is in the cloud and it will hopefully mean we can get rid of all these big boxes

  10. I couldn’t help but notice how many of the journalist didn’t really get it. Like the guy who asked whether it would run Android apps … twice. One guy asked about whether Google would be the only cloud storage provider or not. That’s an interesting questions that didn’t really get answered. All in all, I was very impressed.

  11. I like the idea of a (relatively) cheap device or several devices with lightweight OS and all the data synced (i.e. I can create a file on my main laptop, pull out my ultraportable or smartphone, sync them and continue working), but I have concerns about this (some already expressed above):
    1. Cost of data transfer – might be “free” when at home or office or your cell provider plan, but very expensive when traveling (in EU, data roaming on GPRS/3G costs EUR2 / $3 per MB, so a GB costs $3000!)
    2. Cost of web apps / SW – can I “buy” a certain version and use it indefinitely (like XP from 2001) or I need to constantly pay subscription/upgrade fees. If software will be costly, this negates cheap device concept & free OS.
    3. How does such a scheme handle sensitive / confidential data? Data is encrypted on the machines, but is it also encrypted in the cloud?

  12. Looks pretty cool !! So, one more year to see the OS on devices ?

  13. Google seems to be making an awful lot of assumptions about the bandwidth available on the road that, from my experiences, just isn’t justified at the moment. 3g signals are patchy at best around where I live and you can only get a decent signal in the middle of very large cities. Using purely web based apps on the road would be a painful experience for me. Stopping work every time I go through a tunnel ont he train would be a pain. Perfectly understandable when browsing the web, but when typing a letter or using a spreadsheet?

  14. I like “Chromebook” too, but I’m more biased towards “Webtop” since it’s the name I gave my blog 🙂

    I *love* the “drop it in the pool, then get a new one from the shelf and it will feel as you’ve lost nothing” concept!


  15. Chrome OS could take over the world. There may be an issue of faith – faith to not have your documents, data, etc. on your own machine but to have a place that you totally trust to leave them out on the web.

  16. I’m not sure that this can actually be called an OS at this time. You’re not really operating anything you’re simply browsing. Nice idea mind you and within intranets this could be a really powerful and low cost alternative to some of Microsoft/Apple has to offer.

    But as someone who’s living in an emerging country where bandwidth is limited in availability and even more limited by price this just isn’t practical. At present it’s just not possible to work with 5MB files online, nevermind run everything via the cloud.

    I’m interested to see where this might indeed end up. But if these features are all that is planned I reckon it’s mostly pointless at this time. But hey, that’s just my $0.02

  17. should this be the beginning of our dissolution from one monopolist
    and could it be the start of a bigger monopolist?

    Google is going 2 become more and more a danger 2 the government.
    Because they must fear, that in future Google will better know what people wants, needs, sees and knows as them, which will be a better base 2 act than they oneself have had in any time.

  18. oh dear sounds like network computers Again! hasnt worked for any of the last N times. And the sort of bandwidth that will be required is not going to be realy practible. Look at the problems people are having with iphones in major cities like SF.

    The more I hear about this the more I dislike it and the security model of putting all the seurity in the browser you of all people shopuld know the risks that involves.

    And peopel like the flexability of a GP computer thats why PC’s took off retuning to the old skool mainframe model and not allowing aps to be installed wtf? the regulators and your competitors will have a field day.

  19. There is this one lingering horror in online computing, and that is data security. Once data has left your computer (offline), it is all over the world, and it can be accessed anywhere and anyone. Now that is the problem which needs to be solved before everything (and everyone) goes into the cloud.

  20. Matt, doesn’t making software, open source, mean it becomes less secure?

  21. There is this one lingering horror in online computing, and that is data security. Once data has left your computer (offline), it is all over the world, and it can be accessed anywhere and anyone. Now that is the problem which needs to be solved before everything (and everyone) goes into the cloud.

    I don’t think it really can myself, and this is why I refuse to “join the cloud”. The best security measures are the ones people create and employ for themselves. The more you do to protect yourself, the less it’s worth it for a hacker or someone with evil intentions to try and break through it. The problem with that statement is that the vast majority of people don’t know how to employ such measures and don’t want to learn.

    This is what makes the cloud inherently dangerous as a means of data storage. People rely too much on the security measures provided by others and not enough on their own intuition and enhancements.

  22. Wow, this is exciting! I loved the video (VERY well done!) and I can’t wait to see the Google OS.

    While I know many are concerned about security, I see Google OS as (at least for a little while) being a big supplement to the computer world. While I would not want some things “in the clouds”, I do much of my professional work in the clouds. I love being able to sit down at any computer and get to work anywhere.

    I agree that this is probably the future of technology and I am excited to see where it goes! Thanks for the updates Matt!!

  23. If I type in in the URL address of Chrome a URL why does the Google search appear and not that Web site? You just add another click. Is this because you think that the Google search satisfy the needs of the visitor better than the web site he wants to look at?

  24. Finally… someone with some common bleedin sense!

    Who will own the rights to all this stuff stored in this ‘cloud’?
    Will google be indexing peoples documents?
    Will the apps be FOC, one off payment or subscription?

    will anyone actually trust google enough to expose potentially very sensitive data to them and what will google do with it?

    Bear in mind google is in business to make money, its not doing anything out of the goodness of it’s heart. Google is the company that put copyrighted books on the internet and used camera’s mounted high on vehicles to peer high over peoples fences/hedges then puts the pictures on the internet. It is currently being dragged into the swiss courts by the swiss government for these very actions.

    It is my belief that once Chrome OS is up and running and they have enough data that someone within the company will claim that according to an obscure interpretation of the law in some far flung country like outer mongolia, Google can sell any data it likes to advertisers etc and publish your documents without even consulting you.

    Its a pity google doesnt expend as much energy in getting it’s SERP’s right.. In my experience Bing is now returning far more relevent results than google.

  25. If the demo didn’t show any ads, I hope it remains ad-free, otherwise it would be nice to have a version of the OS that is ad-free as well as one with ads and let the user choose between the two.

  26. “Question (Mike Arrington): No plans for native executables?
    Answer: Current plan is to only support web apps.
    Arrington: That’s exactly what Steve Jobs said, and he changed his stance within a year.
    Sundar Pichai: But even the”

    What’s the end of that last sentence?

  27. Very exciting video….

  28. I gotta agree with Karl, how is this going to be different than MS’ anti-competitive behavior? Coding it specifically so that third-party applications don’t work is clearly going to prevent other browsers from functioning.

  29. It is very true that even I spend more time on the browser than real application and this could be a promising platform for netbooks. I can almost see how Google Gear will integrate nicely towards the Chromium OS. The only thing I am worried about is to use it on slow or unreliable internet connection on developing countries.

  30. I love this idea. For the last few weeks, I have been moving my world into the clouds – using a new googlemail account instead of my regular paid email via outlook, which did create problems when I was away from my work network, and also trying to put more files into Google Docs, rather than carry around a USB everywhere.
    I think the problem lies in convincing old-style IT departments that this is the way forward, which is a bit like convincing marketing that SEO is better than collecting PR clippings!

  31. Good stuff, this looks exciting indeed. I’m particul;arly anxious for a couple of years down the line when its been tried out on a variety of configurations and advanced afew revisions in capability and flexibility, I think it could be a force to be reckoned with. M$ You have been warned! The Big G is coming for you!

  32. I really hope people power their atom based net books with chrome OS. It just makes sense to use a stateless OS for this type of platform . Microsoft should be worried about Windows viability on this platform. Maybe they should focus more on the OS side and less on trying to buy Google’s content providers (ie. Murdoch) lol .

  33. Ah ha, the penny drops, I now need two computers! The irony being that, the cheaper of the two will be running chrome and used 90% of the time. This is going to get messy.

  34. Matt,
    My perception of Google Chrome OS is that the storage will take place on the internet. The concept sounds good since you use less space on your computer but there is some obvious security fears that would prevent me from having confidential material left out in the open. At least when you store information on your computer the alleged attacker has to find you. In this instance they just have to find a huge datacenter. Maybe the security could be explained further?

  35. There’s this Chrome OS VM going around. Is it legit?

  36. Hello Matt,
    I have a (general) SEO question:

    I noticed that “city service” and “service city” return different results. I’d like to include both terms/phrases but ***wouldn’t that be considered keyword spamming?***

    (My specific example “Toronto product photographer” and “product photographer Toronto” — I think the gist is the same so I was surprised to see that the results were different).

    Thanks in advance and sorry if this isn’t the place to ask. Couldn’t figure out any other way to contact you.

  37. How would the security of the cloud be guaranteed? The data must be held somewhere – what is to stop the ‘cloud-owner’ gaining access to that data?

    Surely no business would hand over all their company information, data and documents over to someone else with one password for access.

  38. Surely no business would hand over all their company information, data and documents over to someone else with one password for access.

    There’s a sucker born every second and Google can dream 🙂

    This is why GoogleDocs is no threat to MS Office, Web security can NEVER be as secure as keeping docs on ones PC or network with basic protection in place.

  39. Hi Matt,

    My company would be very interested in bringing you to Australia for a series of seminars/lectures.

    If this is of interest to you, please email.

    Kind regards,
    Shaun McGowan

  40. Nice Post Matt & Some great comments,
    Personally I think the security and trust issues are overplayed here. Users are always initially hesitant (e.g. online banking, early eCommerce). History shows that positive experience builds trust and eventual acceptance.

    Keep the Chrome OS stuff coming! Exciting stuff

  41. Are you aware of the site Matt? I think some people is way too smart, it doesn’t look like a site made by Google to me.

  42. I definitely like what I’m hearing, but it sounds like a nightmare for ISPs who’ll get called whenever someone’s computer doesn’t work. And if you can’t get a decent broadband connection it’s not even an option (trust me there is still some shoddy coverage of broadband even in the UK!)

  43. What type of interface between Chrome OS and Unbuntu can be expected? Will Ubuntu apps be supported on Chrome OS? Will servers running Ubuntu be able to access special cloud content not available to other OS platforms? I like the flash memory concept I am currently running a Phenom II 965 with 8GB DDR3 1800 OC and a DDR5 ATI Graphics Card; the bottleneck (believe it or not) are my dual 10000 RPM Velociraptor hard drives set up in a Raid 0 configuration. Solid state drives will be replacing the archaic platter based drives of today So, it is nice to see an OS with an eye on performance, solid state technology, and end user experience.

  44. Thanks Matt for sharing these answers 🙂

    I’m testing it on the last ubuntu version. I’m trying to compile a portable version customized for travellers 🙂

    Mozilla thundebird and other portable software that we need in travel.

    So Chrome OS in a live usb version would be very interesting 😉

  45. This is cool stuff! I am excited to see what Goog creates. Since making the switch to Mac, I have realized that Apple has no competition, since simply Windows doesn’t work consistantly, and UNIX/LINUX machines are beyond most people. This should give Mac some good competition!

    I would be totally in the cloud not too except that too often I end up in locations with crummy wireless access, and so would not be able to access the data. Also, of course there are specialized aps like my file maker pro database, that I don’t know of any good cloud replacements. I’ve recently given my team some assignments using google docs, when it makes sense.

    I am here on the sidelinese cheering goog on! I would love $100 computer with no data on them. Makes total sense to me.

    Rock on goog!

  46. Matt,thank you for sharing these answers.

  47. I think there is still a long way to compete with others for google’s OS.
    But I believe google’s potential and ability.
    Come On

  48. wowo .. it is fantastic, yes it is fast and the best thing about Google Chrome is, it doesn’t care about what hardware you use, it use google technology and it makes it faster browser in the world. it’s great thanks

  49. This all sounds like some seriously cool stuff! I, for one, am also hoping that the name chromebook takes off as the nom de plume (and sends me some traffic)!

  50. Sergey Brin was once personally irritated at the lack of a Mac version of Chrome. Even today, he is not satisfied with it’s stability.
    To Matt Cutts: What do you think, as the one who started the MS-free initiative?

  51. Great article, I love this video, it’s features as a part of their 2010 D&AD Brief:What is a Browser.

    They recently conducted a survey in New York to see how many people knew what a web browser was, and found under 20% of people actually knew. Crazy!

  52. I’m still waiting around for Google Chrome Browser for the MAC – i know theres fanboys over in Google right? Looks like Beta version will also be extensionless….sigh….

  53. “If your machine is “stateless” then they’re much easier to use” we’ll see about that… I’ll try it out on my notebook later.

  54. Hi Matt,

    I love this video, can I ask if this was done inhouse, or was an external company used? If so, can you let me know which company it was as I want something like this done too.



  55. If Google Chrome OS cannot automatic handle .exe files – forget about any success in the internet. Linux is good but most people on practice using Windows. I’ll say – linux but consumers say windows and they will be right. On practice Windows cover all their expectations as OS (too many bugs, tech issues and more BUT useful and workable for the end users). If you look in statistics (visitor’s browsers) Chrome as a browser has no more then 5% comparing with IE and Firefox. Ubunto / Kubunto and etc as OS are a little bit closer to that’s what end users are looking for but once they get involved with linux enviroment they understand that kind of impossibilities to handle it and it is become unuseful. Example – about 70% of consumer bought notebooks with Ubuntu installed are transfering to Windows after 1 week later. I’m not optimistic about useless development of OS without consumer opinions (It is not enough to create something good – it has to be useful for the others first.)

  56. Hey Matt,

    Do you know when Google docs is going to start displaying xlsx files since the rest of us with Office Excel 2003 cannot view the new excel files? I’m stumped and I don’t want to pay for a converter, that by the way doesn’t work anyway 🙂

  57. Google must really be expecting bandwitdh speeds to increase exponentially with an OS that works apps off the web. I thought that over in USA most people had very poor connections if any at all?

  58. Google Chrome is now my favorite. It is fast on surfing and the Windows are open faster.

    I´ve got a nother Question, can I download somewhere themes for Google Chrome?
    Thanks for posting this article and many regards from Germany, Cologne.

  59. A computer is not just for browsing although thats what we do all the time. What about creating word files, programming/developing, syncing your phone, trying other browsers like firefox, IE, burning DVDs, PC Games like Modern Warfare 2 etc. If I go on counting the things you should be able to do with a PC, well its gonna be a few days.

    So calling chrome as an OS for a computer is wrong, what Google is creating is a platform for people to go online. Chromebook (if you like it to be called) is a hard form of a browser not a laptop/desktop/netbook/webbook etc & very limited in functionality.

    Well google is going to make a lot of money off it but to challenge OS’s like Windows, Ubuntu, Redhat; it has to do a lot more, like provide more functionalities not just browsing. And some day they will be providing those other functionalities and in the process create more code, and hence it’s not gonna boot that quick.

  60. Exactly, they wanted to give people a browser. Since a browser is an application inside a computer which is in soft form, so google decided to give people a mini device with only a browser. Altho browsers can do a lot now a days but not everything.

  61. Great Q&A and video, i think this article answers more than some other blogs do. Thanks for that! Too bad i was’nt there to see it live. Regards, Betty

  62. An OS booting in 7 seconds is impressive, my laptop (which is high-end, v. expensive) boots up windows 7 in more than 30 seconds. But just 7 seconds is like more than 4 times quicker.

  63. Sounds awesome. Might buy a cheap netbook to test it out on if I have some extra cash this month.

  64. it [online mode only] doesn’t sounds very appealing. It seams you can do not much more you are able to do now on iphone, except it will have bigger screen. Netbooks are very popular between travellers, but they need offline mode as not everywhere you can find wireless, so I don’t understand which group of people google is targeting.