Google Chrome OS review: First Look

We review a compiled version of Google Chrome OS to get a taste of what the new operating system has in store for us.

In use

On our test laptop it took us a consistent 21 seconds to get from the launch of the virtual machine to the base Chrome OS splash screen. While that's not quite the seven seconds Google promised, that's not bad considering this is a very early build running in a virtual machine. Windows 7's 50 seconds or so for a cold boot can't really compete with that.

Getting to the splash screen though is undramatic with no boot logo to distract or waste resources. You go straight from a black screen to a simple blue screen (not the Windows sort though).

vb

At the splash screen you're presented with two simple boxes for username and password and your Gmail account details will get you in. If you don't already have a Google Account, you'll need to go and get one, though if you're not already a Gmail user you'll have to wonder why you're trying this.

From here you'll find yourself logged immediately into your Gmail account. As Google promised, the sense of OS is absent, it's just login, and there's the browser.

hotmail

If you've ever used Google's Chrome browser, it will all look very familiar though there are some subtle differences. An icon just to the left of the first tab represents the Apps, and that's what you'll find when you click on it. The arrangement reminds us of Android at the moment but does look better and it states at the top that the UI is under development'.

As Google promised all the apps are web apps. Gmail is obviously the first icon along with the other Google apps, but there are preloaded icons for getting to Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail too as well as Facebook and Twitter. Inevitably there's a US bias at present and you won't be able to get to Pandora or Hulu from the UK. There's a Get more' option too, but that's greyed out at present.

panels

Apps such as the Calculator and To-Do list pop ups are attached to the bottom as panels' much like Google Talk currently is in Gmail.

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