Google Chrome: 5 Best and 5 Worst Features

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But Chrome OS also has a number of downsides:

1. It is considered a companion device.

Google doesn't claim that this Web-only device is useful in all cases or to all people and in fact thinks that most people who buy it will also own a full-fledged PC. As the device will be too big to be a mobile phone, people will also still need one of those. The big lesson of the iPhone's success is that people want devices that do it all -- and preferably with thousands of downloadable applications, too. Chrome OS devices will neither do it al nor allow applications to be downloaded to the client.

2. Vague support for working offline.

The device is built for connectivity. The only way to work with apps and data offline is if the app developer buids some sort of mechanism into the app, supported by Chrome OS, says Pichai.. Google was vague as to how this would be done, but presumably through Google Gears. Gears is the method used by Google Apps for offline access. Applications have to specifically support it and as of yet, few do.

3. Nope, Android applications won't work on Chrome OS devices.

Android apps must be downloaded to the device so they are automatically not compatible with Chrome OS.

4. No options for choosing another browser.

Chrome is built into Chrome OS. If you want Firefox, or (gasp!) Internet Explorer, you can't have it. However Google points out that Chrome OS is open source. This means that Mozilla or Microsoft or others can grab the Chrome OS code, develop their own Chrome OS operating system, integrate an alternative browser, and convince their own set of OEM manufacturers to build compatible devices. How likely is that?

5. Uncertainty about plug-ins and other methods of customization.

As mentioned above, Google says it will lean heavily on HTML 5 for Chrome OS, which, among other attributes, uses a standardized rich media format. This makes it unnecessary to download proprietary browser plug ins such as Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight. Of course, few Web sites today use HTML 5. Interestingly, Google executives absolutely promised that Chrome OS would support Flash when devices shipped but they were evasive when asked about Silvelight, saying only that they would share more info on how the OS would deal with plug-ins at some point in the future. Users won't be able to install binaries, so this doesn't just leave Silverlight out in the dark. All plug-ins, widgets, applets and other poular methods for customization are stuck under in the same vague cloud.

This story, "Google Chrome: 5 Best and 5 Worst Features" was originally published by Network World.

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