Chrome OS, the operating system that Google hoped would challenge Windows, now includes a taskbar and a file structure remarkably similar to Microsoft’s OS.
Launched in late 2010, Google’s Chrome OS is an operating system based on the company’s popular Chrome web browser. Until the latest release, however, Chrome OS provided a simple web browser window as the way in to apps and other functions, and assumed that almost everything could be done online. Indeed, at first launch, it couldn’t even access Google’s own gmail email system without a web connection.
The latest version now provides a traditional desktop, familiar to users of Windows as well as a taskbar, which Google calls the shelf. In a sign thought to point at other announcements to come, Google has introduced a traditional file structure, rather than assuming that all storage will be entirely web based.
Chrome OS was started in a bid to emphasise “speed, simplicity and security”, as Google reacted to Windows 7, which some critics characterise as either bloated or providing more power than typical users need. The operating system was launched on a trial PC called the CR-48, and is now primarily sold on devices made by Samsung.
The new features indicate that Google is likely to be moving towards further Chrome OS announcements, as it readies the software for a larger assault on the retail market. Google's main conference, I/O, takes place in San Francisco at the end of June.
The changes are mostly part of a new feature Google calls ‘Aura’, a hardware-accelerated Window Manager. Replacing Chrome’s tabs with a window manager, the new software means that users are less restricted to a single interface.