Chrome OS is Google's attempt to put Linux on net books in a way that anyone can use it. Google has stated that they will only be supporting specific hardware. For instance, the hard drive will have to be a solid state drive to keep the machine booting at the 7 second mark. The interface is really simplified. It's pretty much just a browser with some links disguised as a buttons. The folks over at GDGT created a VMWare image of the new OS. I downloaded it and tested it out using Sun's Virtual Box. Here are my first thoughts about the new OS.
The less that perfect parts of Chrome OS:
You must be able to connect to the internet to be able to use it. This may change but seems to be a strong positive in Google's goal. The theory is that you can or will be able to do everything you need with Web based apps. When I am at home or in an area with Cell Signal this would be fine. Geton an airplane that doesn't have Wifi and the machine is going to be useless.
They don't want you to have to worry about drivers. So it's really unclear about how they plan on doing things like printing and other device connections. If they are planning on using CUPS(the open source print queue manager for Linux) they need to figure out or help the project work with cheaper printers. So how are we gonna get things that don't have drivers built in to work?
It may actually besimple. The limitations are supposed to be but they may turn out to be limited for even the most basic user. This is like reversing the trend from smart or app phones back to simple phones that just make calls. Not sure that it's a trend that will work. Only time will tell of course.
The good parts of Chrome OS:
It's simple. Really this is the perfect for my 80+ year old Grandfather. He wants to do E-Mail and look at our pictures and this is really the easiest OS to do it with. The OS could be nice for that purpose.
It boots really quickly. It connects easily to the network. It just works. Don't be undersold by those factors.
All in all it's a wait and see moment for the new Google project. It may work but the discussion of merging it with Android seems to make more sense in the long term. The real ultimate endgame though should probably be separate OSes with the ability to share apps. That would provide the best of both worlds.