Google’s not-so-surprising announcement that it would launch an operating system, the Google Chrome OS, in 2010 was full of heady promises, but painfully lacking in detail. Naturally, I have some questions for Google.

1. Why Do We Need This?
Consumers like variety, but stress levels tend to rise when there are too many technology options. I think this is mostly because each platform has its own metaphors. And while some may tell users that this operating system is better than that one, most users are too scared to switch because they don't know if they can learn to use a new OS. Google, however, is applying the same thinking it used when the search giant launched the Chrome Web browser: We can do it better. They did build a super-fast Web interface, but Chrome still lacks many of the basic features we've come to expect from a good browser. Will a Chrome OS have similar gaping holes?

2. Hardware Support?
Google's blog post on the new Chrome OS seems to gloss over hardware support. "[Users] don't want to spend hours configuring their computers to work with every new piece of hardware." In other words, the Chrome OS should work seamlessly with all of the peripherals you currently use. But why is that? The OS is being built on a Linux kernel, which means that while driver support is decent, it's not foolproof. Will Google work with OEMs to have a rich set of drivers available within the OS? Will you have to download all the drivers you need for your existing hardware? How will they ease the process of installation?

3. Linux? Really?
I know I've said this before, but why do people keep going back to Linux as the best alternative to Windows? There are excellent Linux distros out there, such as Ubuntu, but none of them are quite as easy to use as Windows or the Mac OS. More importantly, two years of Vista did not create a new user bonanza for the Linux platform. It didn't even do all that much for the Mac OS. Instead, Windows users suffered but stayed put. Now many feel like they're about to be rewarded for their patience with Windows 7. Look at it this way: When gas prices soared to record highs, people did drive less and they even traded in their Hummers for Hyundais. What they didn't do is rush to hybrid vehicles. I know there are more of them on the road than ever before, but they are far outnumbered by traditional gas-guzzlers. Face it, the tried and trusted (Windows) seems to stick around even when better alternatives are available.

4. What About Android?
Android is a decent little mobile operating system, and it may even do a good job of powering a new generation of netbooks—I'm still waiting to see the first one—but it hasn't exactly taken its primary market by storm. In fact, it's taken almost a year for the second Android-based phone to arrive. I don't know what caused the holdup. Perhaps it's the same problem that Linux has: consumers have found the mobile platforms they really prefer and aren't interviewing any others.

5. Which OEMs?
Most major PC manufacturers have offered Linux boxes at one time or another, but they don't push them. There are no ad campaigns out there, and they're typically not featured on, say, Dell's homepage. Google certainly has the clout to get into the offices of Acer, Dell, and HP, but how receptive are these companies to Google's platform overtures? Like the rest of us, they've suffered through a bad 2008 and a dismal 2009. Would they really want to risk precious marketing dollars on an untested platform? All are gearing up for Microsoft's Windows 7 push (which kicks off in earnest on October 22). It's the closest thing these manufacturers have to a sure thing. The Chrome OS has risk written all over it.

6. Can We Trust Open Source?
The open source community is brilliant at building out new OS features, but it also tends to fracture. Does anyone know how many different Linux distributions exist? Can Google depend on the open source community to put the interests of the lowest common denominator first?

7. Will the OS Be in Beta?
Okay, I'm asking this one somewhat facetiously. Google officially grew up this week when it pulled most of its major apps and services out of Beta. I'd say it's no coincidence that it did this right before the Google Chrome OS announcement. The ever-present "beta" tag on many of the company's products made it seem somewhat less than serious about software. The company can't afford that perception now.

8. Is Chrome Chrome?
One thing that isn't clear is whether the Chrome OS desktop is actually going to be a brand new interface, with new code, or if the whole thing is simply a rejiggering of the Chrome Web browser with a Linux kernel underneath. Google's blog post makes it sound more like the latter. That could be kind of cool; you get things like tear off tabs and an incredibly lean, speedy interface. On the other hand, how does it handle tasks and applications, navigation, file storage, networking? Does that all get passed off to the Linux platform?

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