For all the hype surrounding Google Chrome OS, there is actually little information about it and, despite Google saying that it will release the code in autumn, it is still keeping it very close to the chest. Of course, with something as potentially innovative as a “browser operating system,” there is a lot of curiosity, which, in some cases, gets rewarded with interesting morsels of information like the fact that the OS' login manager will double as a single sign-on (SSO) cookie working for all Google services.
A recent update to the code in the Chromium web repository, the open source project that Chrome is built upon, made a reference to Chrome OS and was spotted by Download Squad. The code describes something called the "Chrome OS login manager," which is, presumably, the upcoming operating system's account login manager. The interesting part is that the comments in the code indicate that logging into Chrome OS will also log you into your Google account, meaning services like Gmail, Docs, Reader and numerous others.
While this may seem obvious in retrospect, it is somewhat of a shift from current operating systems. There will be no dedicated local accounts, meaning that logging in with your Google credentials on any device with Chrome OS installed will log you into your own desktop environment. While this has some obvious advantages, some are worried that the tight integration between the operating system and the browser are taking Google down a dangerous path similar to Microsoft's.
This, of course, isn't the best of comparisons, as there are some key differences between the two cases. First of all, Chrome – the browser – really is an integral part of the operating system, much more so than Internet Explorer is for Windows, despite Microsoft making this very claim when defending bundling IE. There is no Chrome OS without the browser. As far as Google is saying, it is likely the only application that will be installed on the bare-bone Linux Kernel plus the custom window manger kit. Even if it's not the only one, it will clearly be the most important.
Secondly, there is nothing stopping other browser makers from creating versions for the upcoming operating system. While Chrome OS is likely to use a lot of custom libraries, like Google did with Android, which even uses a purpose-built library for the C compiler, Mozilla should have no problem porting the Linux version of Firefox. Google itself has said that, because it is an open source project, anyone can build for it and even Microsoft could release a Chrome OS version of Internet Explorer. Don't hold your breath for that one, though.