Google's conversion of Chrome from mere browser to mighty operating system isn't fully baked yet, although the company did demo what it can do at an event in San Francisco today. Preview some of Chrome OS's features in this slideshow.
When you launch a laptop running Google's Chrome OS for the first time, it will walk you through a simple and short registration process that begins with connecting to the Internet.
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The ubiquitous license agreement
Like Chrome the browser, Chrome the OS will also require users to agree to an end user license agreement before they can use the computer.
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You can sign in to Chrome OS using your existing Google account. If you purchase apps from the Chrome Web Store now and then get a Chrome OS computer next year, your apps will sync to the new laptop instantly.
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Your avatar is you
Chrome OS laptops will all come with Web cams, and users will be asked to take a photo of themselves to use as their avatar. It's not clear if the Chrome OS avatar will override your current Google one.
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Browser-based cloud computing
If you're familiar with Chrome as a browser and smartphone-style apps, you ought to have a fairly gentle learning curve for Chrome OS. The apps are front and center, while tabs and controls are up at the top and in the corner.
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Google representatives demonstrated that syncing apps between a Windows 7 computer (left) and the CR-48 Chrome OS laptop (right) took about 20 seconds.
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Minor interface changes
There's not much that appears to differentiate Chrome from Chrome OS. In the upper right corner of the screen, you can find the clock, battery, and Wi-Fi signal indicator.
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The Wi-Fi indicator will have this green icon superimposed on it when you're running from Verizon's network, as opposed to Wi-Fi.
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Chrome OS will support multiple user accounts that instantly sync user-specific apps.
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Guests go incognito
Chrome OS also ships with a guest account option. This will open by default into Chrome trackless Incognito mode, saving both computer owner and computer borrower the hassle of clearing out unwanted data or programs.
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Print comes to Chrome
Long in the works for Chrome the browser, Chrome OS will have the cloud printing option that Google hopes to use to drastically reduce the need for device drivers.
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Legacy apps live
Citrix has been working with Google on an enterprise version of Chrome OS that allows companies to use traditional desktop programs, such as Microsoft Excel.
In the demo we observed, this worked better in theory than in practice, with some definite observable bugs in resource-intensive programs such as SolidWorks.
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Google celebrated the launch of the browser Chrome with a comic book by Scott McCloud. This "soft" launch of Chrome the operating system was heralded by Chrome stencils and cupcakes.