Wired magazine’s Brian Chen echoes some pervasive skepticism on Google’s Chrome OS.
I think there’s been a kneejerk reaction to the announcement regarding the lack of support for hard-drives, and the cloud model. Generally, the objection is that the cloud lacks privacy, the cloud is unpredictable and unreliable, the cloud requires users to abdicate control over their own data, etc.
I see this as a failure of imagination regarding what computing is and can be, and what the cloud is and can be.
The “cloud” can include network addressable storage and other dedicated hardware to handle the storing and processing of data on site (whether it is buisness data in a data center or a media collection in a media server at home.) These devices can be made more or less available over firewalls, within LANs etc. What the Chrome OS model does is to turn the netbook into an I/O and display device, and nothing more.
In some ways, this is a fulfillment of the concept behind IPv6, and the collapse of the distinction between network I/O and device I/O. It has long been possible to access data one keeps at home or work through VPN tunneling, etc, but a framework for making this transparent and easily managed doesn’t exist yet. There is every reason to expect this framework to be a part of Chrome OS.
In other words, the only things I really need from my laptop are input devices (mouse, keyboard, camera, microphone) and output devices (display, speakers, audio jack, etc.) There is no reason for me to have my precious data sitting in the most vulnerable, most mobile devices in my own information-processing toolbox.