I stumbled upon this link to apply for the Chrome OS pilot program a few days ago, and decided to go ahead and sign up. We'll see how that goes, seeing as it can be hard to get vendors to take me seriously at times (especially when it comes to the latest smartphones). Yet, Google says they're really targeting businesses with Chrome OS, and seeing as our publication represents a business audience, I'm at least somewhat hopeful.
While filling out the application for the pilot program, one of the questions Google asked was essentially, "Do you promise to use the Chrome OS notebook full time if we send it to you?" to which I of course responded yes because I figured it improved my chances. And that was a sincere answer—I will use it quite a bit if I get it. But I have a few concerns with doing so, which I've outline below. (But first, a short video from Google to recap you on how Chrome OS works.)
Can I really stand to use Google Docs 24/7?
Google has been saying that Google Docs is a competent Office alternative for years, but most of us have laughed at such a claim. Google Docs is a basic platform with frustratingly minimal features, and I just don't like it. Still, I will use it on occasion to check out a document or spreadsheet right out of Gmail. But can I use it full time? I have my doubts. (Though, I suppose I could always use Office 365 on my Chrome OS notebook.)
How will I use it with an mp3 player, eReader, etc?
One of the first concerns that came to mind with the Chrome OS is using it with another device. I use my computer as a data hub to connect our cameras and phones, but the new Chrome notebooks have virtually no physical storage at all. So how would I transfer files to an mp3 player or eReader? Could I use some type of cloud equivalent (such as Dropbox) to get the job done, and how seamless would that work?
Can I run Firefox on it?
This actually isn't that important of a question for me, because I am a diehard Chrome fan. But for those who love Firefox or another browser, are they compatible with Chrome OS? The short answer is no, though there may be an app created later to make this possible.
Can I really work with large files?
Have you ever tried to preview large PDFs, PowerPoint presentations, or images straight out of email? It can be pretty slow, often prompting me to download a file I really have no interest in keeping just so I can view or modify it at an acceptable pace. And to that point, will there be suitable applications to open the variety of different files we are sent on a day-to-day basis?
Will there be a robust app store available?
I'm guessing the answer will eventually be yes, but I wonder how long this will take. Android apps are not compatible, so apps will have to be modified to work with Chrome OS. Therefore, the devices could be fairly bare for the short-term future.
Most of these concerns are the same types of concerns you'd expect to hear about a tablet or smartphone. And I think therein lies the point: without some robust, intuitive apps and cloud services (and by some I mean a lot), the thought of a full-featured computer that is Internet-based only is tough to swallow.
However, that's not to say the Chrome notebooks won't be excellent companion devices, thanks to their quick speed and easy Internet access. (There is also great potential for Chrome OS on tablets, though I haven't heard anything about it.) My only concern is that the Chrome OS notebooks will remain companion devices, another nice-to-have and not a need-to-have, a still insufficient means to replace the modern-day PC.
I'm excited (but only cautiously optimistic) to get my hands on one of these. You can sign up here if you're interested in the pilot program.