As a techie type, my ears pricked up when I heard Google announce their intention to release an operating system. I like noodling around with new software when I get the chance, but my main interest in Google’s Chrome OS is not for me. It’s for people for whom the phrase, “Open Explorer and go to your Documents folder” is filled with intrigue and mystery.
These are the relatives and friends who frequently get themselves into trouble with viruses, malware and trojans because they view the Internet with innocence and optimism. I’m not at all sure that Google Chrome OS will help them find their “missing” documents (although if any company on Earth could, surely it would be Google) but this caught my eye:
And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don’t have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.
That would be worth its weight in gold. Modern operating systems make a real effort to ensure common tasks are quite easy to perform, but slip up, or stray from the path a little, and we stumble into a bewildering forest of menus, options and files. I remember running Windows 3.1 on my 486, and being amazed that I had three thousand files on the hard drive. I noticed recently that I have about 300,000 files on my home PC - I doubt that’s unusual [1,136,503 in 2014]. I think that most people using computers today need access to an Expert: Somebody who can guide them out of whatever tangled mess they find themselves in.
I don’t think that the role of Expert will go away, just because Google enters the OS market. However, if the Chrome OS could remove - dramatically reduce, at least - the dangerous bits associated with getting in a computer-related pickle, then that would be very welcome. I shall watch with interest.