Google Restricts Maiden Chrome OS Netbook to Employees, Testers

Pulkit Chandna

It was rumored last week that Google would launch the first Chrome OS-based netbook on December 7. Well, that rumor did turn out to be fairly accurate. While Google did unveil a Chrome OS netbook named Cr-48 , it isn’t meant for the mass market.

Instead, the company has restricted the Intel Atom-based device to Google employees and those accepted into the Chrome OS Pilot Program , implying that the Cr-48 is just a pilot device. According to the internet titan, Chrome OS is still not a finished product and that user feedback is needed to lend finishing touches to the software.

“Some of the features of Chrome OS require new hardware, but we didn’t want to sell pre-beta computers. Instead we’re launching a pilot program where we will give test notebooks to qualified users, developers, schools and businesses. We're starting with the U.S. and will expand to other countries once we get the necessary certifications,” the Google Chrome team said in a blog post.

The Cr-48 features a 12.1-inch screen, integrated 3G from Verizon, Wi-Fi, and a full-sized keyboard and touch pad. The pilot program will also include 100MB of free data per day for two years, with the option of additional data through paid plans starting at $9.99.  The pilot program is currently only restricted to applicants from the United States, but will gradually be expanded to other countries.

According to Taiwanese site Digitimes , the Cr-48 is being manufactured by Inventec, which has already shipped 60,000 units of the device to Google. The first mass market Chrome OS devices will be available in the first half of next year.

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