Curious to know what’s been going on with Chrome OS since its initial release last summer? Surprised that it still exists? Yeah, me also. For those who don’t own one of the original Chromebooks, keeping up on OS progress has been a little tough unless you actively follow the official project’s development site. But today, Chrome OS 19 has been released, refreshing our minds as to its existence and also to what’s been improved since its first major launch.
After taking a look at Engadget’s tear-down of the latest release, I have to say that I’m rather impressed just how far the OS has come since last summer. It’s far from perfect, or at least, far from being “for everybody”, but I can see it being very usable as long as you keep its limitations in mind.
With version 19, a taskbar is introduced, mimicking a normal OS. There’s also a desktop, but not one where icons and documents can be stored. For access to all applications, the shortcuts on the taskbar can be used or the icons in the Android-esque app dock.
Arguably the biggest improvement to Chrome OS 19 is its implementation of proper multi-tasking. Now, individual application windows can be manipulated in whichever way you please, and you can even snap them to one side of the screen (a la Windows 7 and KDE 4).
In terms of performance, at least with Samsung’s latest products (including a desktop box), the reviewers had no issue playing 1080p video from YouTube or Vimeo, and Netflix appears to have run like a dream (tackling another major complaint from the original release). This is helped by the included Celeron dual-core, which is a rather stark step-up from something like an Intel Atom.
Some other additions include a simple image editor, Google+ integration, a remote desktop application that doesn’t require someone else at the other end to accept the connection and also the introduction of many apps that allow offline functionality.
Overall, a solid release. I’d say that for most people, Chrome OS is still too limited even for a notebook that’s needed for minimal uses, but it seems to be on the right track.