Browsers Mac Windows

SplashTop – A Free Operating System For Quick Internet Browsing

James Bruce 27-03-2011

<firstimage=”//”>free netbook operating systemSplashTop, the company behind the instant-on operating system features of many current netbooks has recently released their Chromium-based complementary netbook OS for anyone to install. It’s lightweight, with Chrome built-in, and is pretty darned fast.


If you’re already running Windows, perhaps it’s worth taking a look as it’s designed to run alongside and get you booted into an Internet-ready session in seconds. You’ll also get the power of Chrome web apps 13 Best Chrome Extensions and Apps to Work Offline No Internet on the go? Don't worry, you can still have a productive day on your Chromebook or other laptop if you do a little prep work. Here's how. Read More .

Download & Install

free netbook operating system

Head over to SplashTop and down the latest SplashTop OS. It’s a small 2MB installation file, but once you launch the application it’ll download a further 312MB over your Internet connection.

netbook operating systems

When THAT installation has finished, you’ll be given the option to import either IE or Firefox favourites as well as your Wi-fi settings, which is a nice touch. Restart the machine, and your boot menu will now show you a SplashTop OS option too. The boot-up is hardly instant, but it’s certainly faster than Windows.


free netbook operating system

Features At A Glance

  • The Internet, with Google Chrome.
  • Chrome Apps.
  • A sandboxed environment.

That’s it, basically. It’s not designed to replace Windows. It’s a simple no-frills approach to using the Internet. So why would you use it then?

Faster Boot Time

So you don’t have to wait for the bulk of Windows to load. It’s not just the time taken to show you a desktop either – once you’ve loaded the desktop, you often still have to wait for various drivers, anti-virus software, automatic update checks – all of which prevents you from doing your simple 2 second Internet search. If 90% of your netbook use is using a browser, then you really don’t need all the bloat of Windows. SplashTop provides a simple alternative.

Snappier Response

If you are running lots of background apps in Windows when you really just need the Internet, it’s a pain to close them all after a Windows restart just to get a quick speed up. On limited netbook machines, every ounce of computing power that you can squeeze out is important.


Sandboxes Security

You can’t download files to your hard drive, only to USB drives. While this might be annoying, it does provide a great deal of security by preventing browser based attacks – of which there are none for Chrome anyway.

Easy Reset

For security reasons or anonymity, there is a Restore Defaults option under the Enviromental Settings -> General screen. It will wipe everything, and restore the initial OS image.

Making Use Of An Old Computer

Okay, so you need to install Windows first, but then you can install the lightweight SplashTop OS for daily use as a basic Internet station.

Although I wasn’t able to make screenshots within the OS, here’s a short video from SplashTop to tempt you.


If you’re worried about trying this out on your main machine then bear in mind it unfortunately won’t work on a virtual machine (at least it wouldn’t for me). Don’t worry though, an uninstall option is added to your Windows installed programs list so it’s easy to get rid of if you don’t like it.


Despite apparently being powered by Bing, all my test searches using the browser bar defaulted to Google, so don’t let the Bing branding scare you off. It’s simple, lightweight, perfect for a quick browsing session on a netbook. It’s not going to replace your main Windows installation, and it’s not supposed to – it’s complementary. If you’re living in the cloud though, it’s a great way to simplify your computing experience.

Let us know in the comments what you think of it.

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  1. Neeraj
    May 21, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    There! Don't I stand vindicated!

    Rich White Folks (or 1st Worlders as they like to call themselves) JUST IGNORED OUR CONCERN and carried on niggling about trivialities like why Bing was default, was it because of the MS Conspiracy?

    So, dear Meena, stop worrying and start to love piracy - due apologies to Dr. Strangelove.

  2. Meena Bassem
    April 11, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    is there any way for offline install?
    it's a pain to download about 300+ MB for my slow connection everytime i want to use it

  3. 3rdworlder
    April 11, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Good concept, right idea, poor install procedure based on elitist assumption that *everyone* has ultra high speed Internet connections.

    Suggestion for improvement or expanding user base: allow entire file to be downloaded using download managers or torrents.

  4. Ganesh Anand
    April 3, 2011 at 4:45 am

    I tried it but not coming. Login screen is seen then nothing. just black

  5. Bankieman
    March 29, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Downloaded to give it a go. Couldn't get Wireless to work despite it having imported the settings during set-up. Graphics were very fuzzy. Sorry but I will stick to Windows and (currently) Ubuntu.

    • James Bruce
      March 29, 2011 at 6:34 pm

      Just out of interest, what computer are you using?

  6. Luis Pavón
    March 29, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Careful! On netbook MSI WIND u100 installed and after reboot got stuck on welcome screen. Appereantly others too:

  7. Luis Pavón
    March 29, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Careful! On netbook MSI WIND u100 installed and after reboot got stuck on welcome screen. Appereantly others too:

  8. Var
    March 28, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    I have Asus P5Q Pro motherboard and with it came the ASUS Express Gate OS based on Splashtop.
    It loaded in like 3 seconds of you pressing the power on button on the pc. Super fast.

  9. Astrange1
    March 28, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    But why Bing as the default search? Microsoft must be subsidizing this.

    • James Bruce
      March 28, 2011 at 2:36 pm

      I'm guessing so, yes. But even then, it only affects the homepage, the actual search engine from the browser bar was set as google for me, so it seems a pretty weak sponsorship!

  10. Meena Bassem
    March 28, 2011 at 9:34 am

    any ideas about how to do that offline?

    • James Bruce
      March 28, 2011 at 10:03 am

      How to download something offline?

      No, sorry. SplashTop is an OS design for browsing only, hence installing it to an offline computer would be fairly pointless.

      • Neeraj
        April 11, 2011 at 9:30 am

        I don't think Meena articulated her question properly.

        Most of us 3rd worlders - myself included - are lucky to just have an internet connection. So we prefer to use download manager applications for more efficient use of bandwidth.

        Such fancy-shmancy installs which want humungous (yes, 300+ MB is humungous for us poor people) downloads usually fail for any number of reasons.

        So, I believe, what Meena is asking is, whether it's possible to just download ALL the 300+ MB of Splashtop on to local hard drive then run the install from there. Please correct me if I'm wrong, Meena.

        Also, Meena, I don't think anyone here is going to be able to help you (us) with this problem. You'd stand a better chance requesting this to appear on the cover disc of some "native" computer magazine like Digit or PC Quest.

        • Bloggers Templates
          May 20, 2011 at 10:35 am

           @google-f5391117a59e7a9334f7a5d150e76d1c:disqus  @68187fab30141062fb76cc3ee39bafce:disqus  Yes, It's the ugly truth. ISPs in third world countries are sucks. Anyway You can't download entire OS for offline install. 300+ MB must download via internet.

        • Meena Bassem
          May 20, 2011 at 5:28 pm

          well, you're right, that's just my problem
          downloading 300+ MB can take more than 2 hours for my connection, if it didn't fail and i had to restart it.

  11. KevMo
    March 27, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Can it be installed on a USB key? That would make it pretty slick.

    • James Bruce
      March 28, 2011 at 8:10 am

      Sadly no, the only way to install is via Windows at the moment. That will probably change in the future if they get enough demand for it?

  12. Trinae Ross
    March 27, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    It's a good lite OS if you have an HP Desktop or laptop. Unfortunately, it didn't work on neither my Ausus 1005HA or Acer Aspire 4810T. It did work on my HP Pavilion, though.

    • James Bruce
      March 28, 2011 at 8:09 am

      Yes, supported hardware does seem to be a little limited currently especially with netbooks.

      • thecruz
        May 11, 2011 at 11:47 pm

        Yep, it loaded up lickety split on my Toshiba N505, but sadly with that limited hardware support I was unable to get any Wireless networking functionality out of it. I will say though that the install/uninstall was very easy and un-intrusive to the host operating system.

  13. Marcoqui
    March 27, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    i use suspend to shut off windows, why with ability to have full windows O.S. opened in seconds there is need of this type of solution?

    • Guest
      March 27, 2011 at 9:52 pm

      This OS is for when
      a) You just want a quick INITIAL start into a browsing session and/or
      b) Don't want the overhead of all those background programs munching into your netbook memory etc.

      I'd use this OS for this: I often travel by train and wi-fi reception along the line is flaky. When I get to station X, reception is always good plus the train waits to upload passengers from another train. If they are ready and waiting, my train sets off again - much too quickly to start Widows. If we have to wait, I might have time to send a few webmails. So I'd use Splashtop perhaps.

      • James Bruce
        March 28, 2011 at 10:05 am

        Good answer Guest!

        Marcoqui, you have a point, certainly Windows would be quikc to start if you had it suspended, but I think this is for when you dont want a full blown windows running. Having said that, I wouldnt shut down and restart just to get into SplashTop though, of course.