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.
Download & Install
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.