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Pre-launch Chrome OS hands-on; analysis and screenshots

Chromium OS login screen
Tomorrow, December 7, Google is expected to launch its new netbook-and-tablet cloud-based operating system, Chrome OS. It's also entirely possible that Google will simply show off the much-hyped Chrome Web Store. The event was only announced December 3, and it's extremely unlikely that Google would rush the launch of something huge and consumer-facing.

Even if Chrome OS is shown off tomorrow, it's could be a matter of weeks ormonths until you get your hands on a Chrome OS netbook (or smartbook). That's why we've created a new gallery which showcases the new OS and walks you through all of the new features. Just so it's clear: this is Chromium OS, Chrome OS's open source brother. I've been told by a couple of Googlers that the public and private repositories aren't very different, however.

Some important bits are still missing -- most obviously Cloud Print -- and a lot of key features still remain hidden behind the about:flags barricade. Fundamental features such as the media player and support for USB and SD card storage are still considered 'experimental'. In fact, while the browser itself is as excellent as always, most of the OS-specific bits seem to be a bit flaky.

In the gallery, I've tried to highlight bits that we haven't shown before, such as the keyboard overlays and user management. Note that the docking Gmail chat manager is back, but that Picasa integration is still ominously missing. The coolest bit is that Chromium OS, like its browser brother, now seems to have developer and beta channels -- but it isn't functional yet.

Once you've browsed through it, you'll likely reach the same conclusion as me: Unless Google has held back a lot of non-public code, Chrome OS simply isn't ready for launch. Tomorrow will almost certainly be a demonstration of an internal build of Chrome OS, or just the launch of the Web Store.

Chrome OS pre-launch gallery

Note: the gallery images are larger than our website displays. Right click > View Image to see the full resolution images.

Tags: chrome os, ChromeOs, chromium os, ChromiumOs, cloud, cros, osupdates