Toward the end of today’s Chrome OS event, Google admitted that it’s still working out how to support hardware peripherals. This is how Chrome OS is most likely to fail.For printing, vice president of product management Sudar Pichai suggested that consumers can just use Google’s Cloud Print service, which lets you send print jobs over the Internet to any Internet-connected printer. He told an amusing story in which he couldn’t get a printer to work from Windows XP, but was able to access it over the cloud.
What he neglected to mention: there are no printers today with cloud print pre-enabled. Instead, users have to install their printers on–surprise–a regular computer on a regular network. Then they can install proxy software and connect to that software over the Internet using Cloud Print.
Even more surprisingly, the company admitted that support for USB storage drives isn’t even done yet, and danced around questions about exactly which kinds of hardware, like models of digital camera, will be supported at launch.
As a former colleague often jokes, Microsoft didn’t set out to build a slow, buggy, bloated operating system. It happens over many years, as a series of seemingly reasonable requests pile up, each adding more code and more dependencies. Sure, Chrome can boot up in less than 60 seconds and resume almost immediately. But what happens when it’s got to load a bunch of hardware drivers?
The other option is to ignore peripherals completely, or pick a few select ones to support. That could work fine for highly mobile users who live exclusively on the Web. If you store all your pictures in the cloud, you don’t need to attach a digital camera.
But I suspect that describes a very small minority of users today.
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