Over the weekend, news broke that a Dell employee had taken the open source code that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) released as "Chromium OS" and successfully loaded it onto a Dell Mini 10v netbook.
"Without a network connection, Chromium OS is not very interesting. With a network connection, Chromium OS shines. The Chromium browser is extremely fast and makes for a great web-centric browsing experience. Boot time appears quick, too -- about 12 seconds from hitting the power button," wrote Dell employee "Doug A" in this blog post.
Dell's engineers are hardly the first to play around with Chrome OS. More than 800 had downloaded the software from softonic.com as of this writing. And last week, the bloggers at Engadget loaded the OS to a small external hard drive called a USB key, also allowing the software to boot natively.
That's important. Till these experiments went live, those testing Chrome OS were doing so on virtualized systems -- they could neither prove nor disprove Google's claims of fast execution because they were running Chrome OS through Windows, or Mac OS X, or Linux. Enterprising coders have changed the equation.
Over the short term, this isn't likely to mean much. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) won't be releasing a Chromium netbook soon. Logitech (Nasdaq: LOGI ) and other device makers won't rush to create Chromium interfaces. Neither Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) nor Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD ) is likely to alter development schedules to accommodate a testing breakthrough.
And yet with this much code flying around on fully featured machines, Chrome OS could see more development than anyone expected.
But that's my take. Now it's your turn to weigh in. Will developers flock to Chrome OS now that Dell and others have figured out how to run the system natively? Please take a moment to vote in the poll below. You can also sound off in the comments box at the bottom.