Google Chrome OS: Rounding Up The Rumors

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Screenshots & Speculation

The first batch of fake screenshots surfaced within days of Google's announcement; one blogger clamed to have seen a "private developer beta" at an Acer preview event. Within hours the clearly fake screenshots made the rounds on a number of blogs and news sites, and links to the images were all over Twitter. Within less than 24 hours over 120,000 people had viewed the original images, and it wasn't long before the hoaxer came clean, openly admitting the screenshots were a "really bad attempt".

The second round of fake shots arrived shortly after that, this time premiering on Endgadget thanks to an anonymous tipster. These alleged shots claimed to be part of the 'Chrome OS Alpha 1.01' build, and like the earlier "screenshots," lacked the authenticity to be taken to seriously. Not only was the timing suspicious, but the images features some odd user interface (UI) elemenrts, such as a horrifically chunky blue scroll bar.

However, this second batch of images did exhibit some interesting ideas as to how the new windowing system could be implemented, borrowing the Chrome browser's tab interface to display information. For example, Picasa, Google's photo management software, is seen running in its own independent browser-like tab. These screens also showed a status bar providing information on battery life, speaker volume, Web connection, and so on.

We had to wait until the end of July for our next round of possible forgeries, when new images (20 in total) landed in DownloadSquad's inbox. These alleged screenshots were supposedly from a "Developers Edition Alpha 0.2.5" build, and although highly detailed, the snaps looked nothing like a typical Google UI.

Whoever produced these screenshots made the elementary error of using Photoshop's built-in default shapes, making for an obvious fake from the get-go.

At the height of summer Mashable's Pete Cashmore shared the next collection of purported screenshots.

These were the first screenshots to look plausible, integrating several of Google's key web services into a single experience. These screens featured a Mac OS X-like dock for easy access to Gmail, Google Reader, Calendar, and other Google services.

Also in August, Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, left Apple's board of directors. The move came as no surprise and was due to growing "conflicts of interest" between the two companies.

The screenshots just kept coming, as TechCrunch revealed a

couple more supposed images. This batch packed in massive oversized icons and a docked search bar. Interestingly, these images also featured a border-less browser window, just like the Mashable shots before them.

Things really heated up in October Google S, was accidently released a version of the Chrome browser intended for Chrome OS. The leak spilled the beans on some of the upcoming operating system's UI elements.

Could this be Chrome OS' logo?
Google quickly removed the browser build from its servers, but that didn't stop others from sharing what they had found, like an integrated toolbar and a possible logo for the OS.

A few days later on October 14th, it was discovered that Google was ready to show its operating system off at a special "open house" that took place at their Mountain View headquarters. Word of the event leaked out, and Google closed the event to members of the press.

Toward the end of October as rumors increased, a download was made available claiming to be an early build of the Chrome OS. This turned out to be a hacked Linux distribution, offered to users as a VMWare appliance.

Thankfully, now that Google is ready to show off Chrome OS we should soon know the truth, including what it really looks like, what it can do, and why we will want it.

What are your hopes for the Chrome OS? Does it interest you? Sound off in the comments!

Follow Geek Tech and Chris Brandrick on Twitter.

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