When I'm looking at an offering in the technology world aimed at the average end user, I often use this simple criteria in judging it's ease of use, "Would my mother be able to enjoy the primary benefit of this product/service/software without my help."
I know. I know. Sounds like I'm insulting Mom. I swear, though, I'm not.
She's a smart, intuitive, capable woman (of course she is - I'm her son!), but she likes her products to do what they promise with minimal input on her part. As an example, I recently helped her replace an older Dell notebook. Before we hit the local store, I asked her a lot of questions about her usage. She came up with what I think is a pretty typical list of what she needed; check email, browse the web and shop, and look at pictures. Pretty simple stuff.
So, what did we do? I'm sure you're way ahead of me...yes, I helped her buy a Netbook.
What does that little tale have to do with Chrome OS? Simple, really.
All of Mom's PC based activity was really home based cloud computing. Simple home based cloud computing. Her email is Gmail. Her browsing is...well...browsing. Her pictures are on Flickr. That, my friends, in the simplest form is cloud computing: all browser based activities utilizing remote software applications and storage. Mom's living on a cloud and didn't even know it.
In one sense, quite a lot of us have been living in the clouds for a while via Windows or OSX or Linux. We’ve been using operating systems designed to support local hardware and software usage. Chrome OS will be designed with cloud operability as a primary function and not an after thought. But, what really excites me is something else. I think Chrome OS will be a giant evolutionary step for two reasons: branding and simplicity.
Mom loves Google. She is already on a Google cloud. The extension of a brand she, and so many others, love into the OS arena will be very organic. Mom doesn't know how searching with Google works, it just does. She won't lift up the lid to look at the Chrome OS engine, she'll just be happy that it does what it does.
So, listen up Google Guys. If Chrome OS doesn't load in seconds; look and feel like an organic extension of every other Google experience; and run without Windowsesque crashes, I fear the brand will be tarnished. No pressure there, guys. Just sayin'.
And, keep listening Google Guys. It has to be simple. Simple like Gmail. Simple like Flickr. Mom simple. She needs to power up, click an icon, and be online in less than 10 seconds. That's Mom simple.
When Google says, "Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS," they get my attention. I'm looking forward to seeing if they deliver.