Chrome OS applications

Google released the source code for Chrome OS on Thursday, beginning the process of producing a browser-based operating system by the end of 2010 for lower-end PCs called Netbooks. Although Linux runs under the covers, the applications all run within Google's browser.

The upper-left corner has an applications menu with links to a variety of Web applications. Those applications can be permanently lodged as narrow tabs between that menu and ordinary browser tabs.

Although screen real estate is tight--especially given the presence of a clock and status icons to indicate Wi-Fi connections and the like in the upper right--more than one browser can be open at a time even if others are hidden in the background.

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Chrome OS full screen

Chrome OS, like Chrome, devotes almost all its real estate to the contents of the browser window. That leaves maximum room for Web applications such as Google's search site.

Google said it won't use Chrome OS as a vehicle for advertisements. As with many other projects, it leads to Web sites such as search, YouTube, and Gmail that feature their own ads in the Web content.

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Chrome OS panels

Chrome OS communicates with a variety of panels. This shows a number of instant-messenger communication threads, the left one minimized. Google also showed a notepad panel.
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Sundar Pichai

Sundar Pichai, vice president of product development, answers questions about Chrome OS.
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Chrome OS contacts

This Chrome OS panel shows use of the address book. Chrome OS doesn't store data permanently on its local machine, but instead relies on central servers--in this case Google's Gmail system--to store data. That means address books are accessible from any Chrome OS machine, from any Web browser, and from higher-end mobile phones.
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Chrome OS vision

Google has three top priorities for Chrome OS: speed, simplicity, and security. All three are aided by the fact that Chrome OS runs on a limited set of approved hardware, available next year only from cooperating manufacturing partners. For speed, Chrome OS uses only flash memory-based solid state drives (SSDs), which are faster and more power-efficient than conventional hard drives with rotating magnetic plates. Chrome OS also uses a simplified software suite because the only application it has to run is the browser.
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Matt Papakipos, engineering director

Matt Papakipos, a Google engineering director, described some of Chrome's underpinnings.
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Sergey Brin takes the stage

Google co-founder Sergey Brin made an appearance at the Chrome OS unveiling.
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