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Surprise! Google Launches Chrome OS Beta

Gordon Kelly


Updated: Surprise! Google Launches Chrome OS Beta

Please read update below (perhaps there are no surprises left after all)

In an industry plagued with leaks, there are very few genuine surprises left in technology announcements, but this is one...

Without warning Google has unveiled a public beta of Chrome OS its first desktop specific operating system. Given that a) the platform had not been expected until mid 2010 and b) we hadn't even had so much as an official screenshot, the fact we can now download the whole thing has left us gob smacked.

So what can we deduce? Very little since we haven't yet had time to install it and take it for a test drive, but it's Linux roots are clear for all to see (Google even includes the term ‘chromeoslinux' in official URL). There is also a healthy dose of Ubuntu in its styling. Furthermore with Google referring to it as v0.4.223 it is clearly a long way from v1.0, though interestingly it has skipped the usual pre-beta ‘alpha' which suggests significant progress is being made.

As for features and functionality Chrome OS has a GNOME 2.24 desktop environment, the Chrome web browser (also noticeably at v4.0.233), a new Picasa 2.7 photo manager, Flash Player 10.0 and the GIMP 2.6 image editor. What we didn't expect to see is the OpenOffice 3.0 productivity suite since it overlaps with Google's own Cloud-based Docs suite and suggests Google is looking to strike more of a desktop/web based balance than we initially expected.

System requirements? Given Chrome OS was marked on being extremely fast and lightweight, not much. Intel Pentium, Xeon and above, AMD Duron, Athlon, Sempron and Opteron are supported, just 256MB RAM is required, 1GB of drive space and "most modern graphics card" work just fine, which I suspect means pretty much anything. The download itself weighs in at circa 550MB depending on whether you go for the VMDK or ISO so will easily fit on a standard CD. Google is distributing the download over Bittorent, which makes a lot of sense, but does warn there is no ‘Live CD mode' so unlike some Linux builds you will have to fully install it to run it.

A word of warning: Google products tend to emerge in an extremely raw first state so set your expectations accordingly. After all the Google Wave backlash has already begun extremely prematurely. At this stage the Chrome OS beta simply represents the first dainty steps of competition for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X and that has to be a good thing...

Update: It could all turn out to be too good to be true since closer inspection on the site claims: "Chrome OS is not related to Google. Service provided by SUSE Studio. See the license." An early test of the platform or an elaborate hoax? No doubt we'll find out soon, but my thoughts are we may be looking at a fan made solution. Ho and indeed hum.


Chrome OS Beta


October 28, 2009, 10:27 pm

'Roots' not routes for it's Linux ancestry.

These developments are the kick up the rear that MS is so in constant need of.


October 28, 2009, 10:54 pm

sites.google.com is where users can create their own websites, and the site has been disabled by Google. This could have been put up early by a staff member, but given the update in the article, it sounds fake to me.


October 28, 2009, 10:54 pm

A shame if it is a fake/hoax; this grabbed my attention and my hopes were raised by your suggestion that "Google is looking to strike more of a desktop/web based balance", being rather Cloud-skeptic myself. Oh well, I guess we'll have to wait another six months or so for the real thing.

Brian ONeill

October 28, 2009, 11:37 pm

Er guys bad news it seems to be a fake:


Also the page you linked to has been pulled by google.

John Wards

October 29, 2009, 12:52 am

Guys you should probably pull this story or put the update at the top. This fake has been doing the rounds for a month or so. The give away for me was the hungarian (think before the site was pulled) at the bottom.

Chrome OS won't be based on an existing Linux OS. It may have the Linux Kernel but everything else will be google based, look at the statements they made when they announced features.

Andy 14

October 29, 2009, 2:05 am

I'd go for hoax as Google have now disabled the site...


October 29, 2009, 2:09 am

... Site disabled due to terms of use violation. Fake.


October 29, 2009, 3:49 am

Apparently, this is a fake. There is no Chrome OS.


October 29, 2009, 4:49 am

The link's been disabled. Guess we'll have to wait some more.

But where's the story about Google Navigation. The Android takeover gathers pace.


October 29, 2009, 5:00 am

aaaaa link does not work... some say that its a fake, theres no release !!!!!


October 29, 2009, 6:36 am

I agree with Frank. More MS rivals emerging. First with had Linux and now Chrome OS (Mac OS is only for kids).

Dark of Day

October 29, 2009, 10:56 am

that's the download page deleted by google for terms of use violations


October 29, 2009, 11:33 am

The site has now been disabled due to terms of service violation - so probably a fan site and not the real deal


October 29, 2009, 12:25 pm

Sounds like you've been had Gordon!


October 29, 2009, 12:41 pm

"its" not "it's" for the possessive form of "it". That's for you, Gordon, and you, Frank. I think I'm fighting a losing battle there, but I don't intend to give up.

This has to be a fake. After what Google said about Chrome OS when they first announced it, the idea that it'd be based on GNOME is pretty ridiculous. And given that there are no official builds of Chrome for Linux currently available, this is not likely to get the person who did this in good favour at Google.


October 29, 2009, 1:45 pm

How it was done:





October 29, 2009, 2:31 pm

Unfortunately that's the nature of breaking news. We report it and we can only be honest when it doesn't turn out to be what it claims to be. Interestingly, since this story broke I now know what the real Chrome OS will look like. Sadly, I can't share it ;)

John Wards

October 29, 2009, 3:14 pm

Oh Gordon you big tease.


October 29, 2009, 7:09 pm

would be nice to install it on my 10yr old laptop...


October 29, 2009, 9:45 pm

Nice spot Mawich, I was very tired that day : - )

Not a losing battle when "it's" a reminder.

Soon we'll have the real story, that there is a Chrome OS.

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