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Google Chrome OS Finally Gets Shown Off, Pilot Program Announced

by Sean P. Aune | December 7, 2010December 7, 2010 2:54 pm PDT

The Google Chrome OS was announced on July 7, 2009, but since then there has only been dribs and drabs of information about what it would do, when it would come out and what it might cost.  While we didn’t get detailed answers to all of these points, we certainly know more than we have ever known before about Google’s initial entrance into the operating system market.

Initially Chrome OS was supposed to ship by the end of 2010, but that target has been missed to various delays.  The new plans call for consumer units using this system to hit store shelves in mid-2011, and the first units will be released by Acer and Samsung.  Beyond that “mid” year predication, no details were given as to what specs might be or pricing.

chrome os logoAs for the actual system, it is 100 percent about being cloud based, although you can continue to use the computer offline mode so that you can work on something like Google Apps while you’re on a plane, and all of your changes will sync once you get back online.  If you’re using the Chrome Web browser on other computers, any changes you make in the OS will sync within seconds to your browser and vice-versa.  You will also be able to use services like Google Air Print without the need for installing any drivers, and you can send print jobs to your network printer no matter where you are.

Need connectivity on the go?  Google has partnered up with Verizon in a deal that will give all users 100 MBs of free data per month for two years.  You will be able to also buy packages, and even just purchase a day if you need it, and all of it will be done without a contract.

Google has been obsessed with speed in all aspects of its existence, and the Chrome OS is no different.  In a demonstration of starting a brand new Chrome OS laptop, the time from starting setup to being on the Web, and synced with a version of Chrome running on a Windows based system, was well under 60 seconds.  Putting your laptop into sleep mode also doesn’t make for a slow restart; it was so fast that it couldn’t even really be measured.  It was just … fast.

Logins won’t be tied to Google accounts at the time of mass market launch, but will instead allow you to sign in with other systems such as OAuth, although in the follow-up Q&A, Google engineers admitted that was taking some time to figure out how to implement.

One of the other interesting aspects was the announcement that multiple profiles could use the same machine by simply signing in, and the experience would be what that person expected without having any access to each others info.  Have a friend who wants to jump on for a moment?  Let them sign into guest mode and they will see nothing of your info and all of theirs will be deleted when they sign out.

Even though we are a long ways off from being able to walk into a store and buy a Chrome OS system, Google has launched a pilot program with an unbranded laptop that is already going out to some people.  If you wish to try out for being a beta tester, you can head over to google.com/chromenotebook and fill out an application.  You will receive a basic black laptop called the Cr-48 if you are selected (specs below).

The big question is, of course, if Google waited too long to release Chrome OS.  The market has changed drastically for mobile computing since it was initially announced, most of that being the fault of Apple and its iPad tablet.  I am sure that the Chrome OS can find a home in the market place, I just somehow suspect it won’t be as large as it could have once been.

What say you?  Are you excited for Chrome OS?

Cr-48 Tech Specs

  • 12.1-inch display
  • Full-size keyboard
  • Over-sized clickable trackpad
  • World-mode 3G
  • 802.11n dual-band Wi-Fi
  • Built-in Webcam
  • 8+ Hours of active use
  • 8+ Days of standby
  • No function keys or caps lock keys
  • No spinning disks
  • Built-in Jailbreak mode

Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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