I’ve mentioned in my previous posts how much I like my chromebook and last week Google released version 19 of Chrome OS, with some pretty major updates. I’ll be honest; I’m not a fan of the changes.

Why you ask? Well, Google made a bold statement with their initial release of Chrome OS - it was different from everything else. There was no desktop, just Chrome and a terminal (when switched to dev mode). It was truly a lightweight OS built for working in the cloud. With the release of Version 19, it feels like Google have buckled under the pressure to make their OS more friendly to the average user by providing them with the familiar desktop paradigm.

Desktop Wallpaper

One of the big changes was the addition of a desktop with a wallpaper. When Google launched Chrome OS it was a pretty brave not to include a desktop, but they did it with good reason - there simply wasn’t any point having one. When you just have chrome and not much else, there is not a whole lot of need for a desktop.

So why include one now? To be honest, I have no idea. You can’t really use it for much. You can’t drop files or shortcuts onto it. It’s simply a space that allows you to resize your browser windows. In previous versions of Chrome OS, your browser window was always maximised until you opened a second window at which point you were able to do some simple window tiling and that was about it. But it worked and I preferred the simplicity of that approach.

The Shelf

The clock, battery and WiFi indicators have moved from the Chrome window title bar to an auto-hide dock called the Shelf. I like these indicators to be visible at all time which means I now need to set the Shelf to ‘Always visible’, which is somewhat annoying because it eats into some of my screen real-estate.

I much preferred it before, when Chrome could use up the entire screen and I could still have the clock always visible.

Wrapping Up

It’s not all bad news. Pasting into the terminal is no longer practically impossible - damn that used to bug me. You can also now edit Google Docs offline and the file manager is a bit nicer.

Despite the desktop and the shelf getting praise from techradar and engadget, I disagree and Chrome OS has gone a little down hill in my view.