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At first glance it looks like just another laptop (not even a tablet), but it is actually something new and different. Google is making a push for totally online computing. Much of the computing world is already headed in that direction through streaming videos and cloud (virtual) data storage. The Chromebook seems to capitalize on that idea by making everything accessible through its Chrome browser. Word processing can be done in email or through online applications and so can photo, music, or video access. With most lay people only using computers for basic word processing or basic multimedia access, this non-bulky software approach does seem ideal as long as you have an internet connection.
There still remains, however, a problem for professional users. How does Google propose to handle heavy video or photo editing without applications like Photoshop or video editing programs? What about the security of databases for law firms? It may be enough to say that the lay person can use the chromebook while the professional may still need more comprehensive operating systems. Nonetheless, there remains the possibility that Google's push to simplify computing may result in a larger rift among computer users. Compatibility between files and file sharing may also decline as professionals and lay people no longer use the same type of technology.
While Google's approach is admittedly intriguing and potentially life-changing in the computing world, there are still many issues that need to be addressed before this platform can really take off. One example is a logistical one. Currently Google chrome is generally a free and open source operating system, but how long will it remain that way? How long before the supposed savings of not having to pay for large operating systems that operate on native hardware are no longer present due to online fees to access your own information? Many companies (like Netflix's latest fee debacle) get you hooked and then hike up their prices once the customer relies on the services.
Although exciting, users should be wary of diving head first into any new technology until it has been tried, tested, and its realistic longevity determined. We all remember (or maybe some don't) laser disc and the failed HD DVD technologies. Regardless, at a bare minimum Google is putting out another option for computer users to experience and that is something worth trying.