2012 is the year of Chrome OS — or so we're told. When we spoke with Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome, he told us that this is the culmination of "a long, slow march" for Google's cloud-based operating system. One iteration was about getting people to understand what Chrome OS is; another was about seeding it to developers and OEMs. Now, Pichai said, Google's trying to take Chrome OS mainstream.

The company's diving in with two new devices, both running a brand-new version of Chrome OS that's been changed in a lot of important ways. There's the Chromebook, the latest version of Samsung's Series 5 laptop, and the Chromebox, a Series 3 desktop also from Samsung. Both feature the best specs we've seen yet from Chrome OS devices, though neither is particularly high-powered. Google's also released the best version of Chrome OS yet, codenamed Aura — it feels more like a desktop operating system now, and Google promises huge improvements in speed, stability, and functionality. The company's also launched Google Drive, which adds a key new feature — storage — to the Chrome OS equation.

Google and Chrome OS still face two huge questions. One, are we really ready for a computer that's entirely on the internet? And two, can Google build an operating system with the right features and performance to get us there? We'll try to answer both below, so read on.

Joshua Topolsky contributed to this review.