I go back and forth on my opinion. Conceptually, it turns a browser into an OS shell inside whatever native OS you're running it on, I think. I agree in spirit with the idea that apps (at least robust ones) have generally consisted of some sort of compiled code - and so that is obviously where some of the confusion and indecision over Chrome comes. But the fact is that Chrome will save a boatload of apps in a local, offline accessible mode, display their launcher icons from a simple desktop GUI interface, and run those apps at any time, at any place, giving the end user the same experience. I mean, Angry Birds is Angry Birds - and when you're running it in Chrome, you're not running it as a web app from a web page, you're running it as a local app. Initially Chrome got this reputation for calling a simple link to a web page an "app"... which they did do, and which was probably a mistake. But what Chrome is doing with a whole bunch of recent apps that do not require an online connection, that isn't the same thing as creating a link to chrome.angrybirds.com - this is being able to download an app from that URL and get to it and load it anytime you want. That itself isn't so new, the presentation shell that makes that easily accessible for the end user is the novel concept that Google has introduced. You can download and run Angry Birds in IE... but you don't get the desktop experience if you want to reload it later. That little difference means a lot, especially to the "most users" you mention, who I agree, it really doesn't matter to. But the pros are the ones who are getting hung up on the details - and I think a lot of them don't understand - Chrome OS can deliver ANY kind of app, offline, there is just an extra layer between the hardware and the executable code... which is no different than running a compiled Java app (and that MAY be what the app you're running in Chrome is... or it may be Java Script, or HTML 5, or who knows what else Chrome OS will support as a local offline app... my guess is, anything that any other browser will support).
Not that I disagree with any of what you have to say. Just thinking out loud about what Chrome really *means* as an application platform for end users. It means a lot more than the press currently seems to understand, I think - a lot more than a lot of tech-industry workers have realized. We'll see.
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