I had a CR-48 Chromebook for a while, which has recently fallen in disuse. While I have never being totally convinced about Chrome OS being a polished, well designed, interface that simplifies the “always connected” user journey that Google was envisioning, I liked the concept.
Now I am reading in ArsTechnica that Chrome OS is getting a brand new look, that is … basically.. well, not new. While I am sure there are many technical advantages of a fully hardware accelerated windows managers, my issue is with the [lack of] concept.
Google has spent much energy convincing users that they do not need to have local apps, that they can do everything in the cloud and that the portal to this experience is Chrome. Having an OS which the only application that could possibly run, and at full screen, was the browser was a controversial but bold move. More over, it really hit home the user experience they were targeting.
This new UI seems to be sending the opposite message. It seems to be saying: “OK, we were wrong.. but maybe if we make Chrome OS look more like windows you will like it better?”. Is that really the message? Well if you give me an app launcher in a desktop, I am bound to ask for local apps. If you give me off-line sync for Google apps, I am bound to ask for local apps.
I fear Google is paving the road to [windows vista] hell with good window manager intentions. I am primary an Ubuntu user, and what I like about it is that every single release over the last few years has continue to build on a design concept. Every new release is closely wrap on a consistent user message. Take as an example the HUD introduced in 12.04: it is new and different, but somehow it feels like it always belonged in Unity.
I am bought into the Ubuntu user experience, and I am excited to see what a new release will bring. If I had bought into the Chrome OS experience, I think I will be asking for a refund.
Anyway, I am looking forward to the new Chrome OS UI being available for the CR-48. Maybe I will change my mind once I get my hands on it.