Google recently unveiled its pilot netbook for the Chrome OS, the Cr-48 (check out our hands-on preview here), which basically lives entirely on the cloud. In the future, Google hopes you will, too.
"I think it depends on the user and the user's behavior," Google product management director, Caesar Sengupta, said in an interview with SearchEngineLand. He was asked if he sees cloud-based machines taking the place of Windows- and Mac-based computers.
"In the long term and the fullness of time, absolutely. I think we will have failed if this doesn't become your default way of computing," Sengupta said.
That's a bold goal, one that's probably a bit unrealistic given how popular current non cloud-based OSes are. Nevertheless, Sengupta points out that "hundreds of millions of users" already live on the web, and "for many of these users, this will replace their machines immediately, especially as Web apps get better."
So what do you think, is cloud computing the end game for computing nirvana?
Google yesterday lifted the curtain from its CR-48 Chrome OS netbook (if you want to get your mitts on one, you'll have to apply for the Pilot Program and make a compelling argument of why you're a solid candidate), and may have killed the Caps Lock key in the process.
To the shock and horror of overactive forum posters and hyper Facebook users everywhere, Google got the bright idea to replace the Caps Lock key with a search key, and you know what? WE'RE PLEASED AS PUNCH THEY DID!
While said in jest, the employee's comments ring true, and we wouldn't be heartbroken if all notebook vendors followed suit. If they did, IT WOULD TAKE A TON MORE WORK TO TYPE LIKE THIS, ensuring that if someone feels the need to shout, it will be worth shouting about.
That's not to say there aren't some legitimate uses for the Caps Lock key, and if you're one of the few who rely on it, don't fret. Google says you can easily convert the search key back to a Caps Lock key in the settings menu (Wrench > Settings > System).
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.
There are a lot of dollars at stake in the emerging tablet war, and one misstep could relegate a company's entry into the 'also ran' pile. One of the big decisions tablet makers have to make is which OS to build their slate around.
Toshiba isn't taking any chances, and rather than roll the dice on Microsoft's Windows 7 or Google's Android or Chrome OSes, the company will instead play all three, DigiTimes reports.
All three tablets will make their debut at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, two of which will boast a 10.1-inch panel. DigiTimes didn't say which one that would be, but did say that the third tablet will sport a slightly larger 11.6-inch panel.
What about the 7-inch form factor, such as the one chosen by Samsung with its Galaxy Tab? Toshiba is planning to attack that segment as well, but is relegating responsibility over to its handset division.
News on Google's upcoming Chrome OS has been hard to come by. The search giant has been vague about updates. CEO Eric Schmidt recently said at the Web 2.0 conference that they were expecting Chrome OS to launch in the "next few months". It might not be as simple as all that; eWeek has done some asking around, and found that no big name manufacturer was committing to a Chrome OS device for the holidays. Last year, Google said there would be a November or December release of retail devices.
A Google spokesperson said only that, "We are very happy with the progress of Google Chrome OS, and we'll have more details to share later this year." It was a year ago that Google promised the holiday 2010 Chrome OS goodies, but time is fast running out with no hardware even leaked. Analysts are speculating that Android's amazing rise in the last year has forced Google to reassess their strategy.
This just might not be Chrome OS' year. With one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year coming up, a cheap Chrome OS netbook could have sold like mad. Do you think Chrome OS will still drop this year?
The first crop of Chrome OS-based netbooks is expected to arrive this month, though there has been no official confirmation. However, a little known France-based cloud OS startup named Jolicloud could very well steal a march on Google with a netbook running its eponymous cloud-centric operating system.
The company has confirmed that the first Jolicloud-powered computer is on course for a November, 2010 debut. Called Jolibook, the netbook features a dual core Atom N550 processor and 250GB hard drive storage, and comes preloaded with “Chromium, Facebook, Spotify, VLC, Skype, and a bunch of cool apps that are one click away.” With the launch just round the corner, Jolicloud won’t be able to hide the remaining details for too long. We will keep you posted.
Don’t be surprised if the next batch of Google Docs enhancements includes third party applications, cloud printers, and sync devices. Google-centric blog Google Operating System found a strong hint to this effect inside Google Docs’ source code while scrolling through it. "Coming soon: Third party applications, cloud printers, and sync devices," reads a message inside the code.
Support for cloud printing in Google Docs would be in keeping with the company’s stated goal of building “a printing experience that enables any app (web, desktop, or mobile) on any device to print to any printer anywhere in the world.” The cloud printing feature will be enabled through the upcoming Google Cloud Print service.
Although not available yet, the launch of Google Cloud Print has got to be just round the corner with the first installment of Chrome OS devices fast approaching.
Third-party apps and the “sync devices” feature will also be equally welcome additions to the web-based productivity suite.
“Each of the features you mentioned have been announced before but we are excited to see everyone's enthusiasm for the cloud and integration with Google Docs,” the company said in an e-mail response to a Cnet query. “We have no specifics on timing for these features at this point.”
Many of you might be aware that Google plans to give browser-based apps the app store treatment. Announced at the Google I/O developers conference in May, the Chrome Web Store for web apps was expected to be up and running at an unspecified date in October.
With the month all but over, we might just have to wait a bit longer for the store. At least that is what All Things Digital’s Peter Kafka is saying based on input he received from app developers in the know.
It's been all quiet on the Chrome OS front lately, but some recent comments on the Google Code site have some wondering if a release is right around the corner. Google announced Chrome OS last year around this time, and said the product would be available be the end of 2010. So here we are, and it looks like Chrome OS has hit Release Candidate stage. This is usually the final stage of development before software goes gold.
Chrome OS will be based around the Google Chrome browser. All actions in the cloud-based OS will be handled within the browser interface. Many feel that this is a limiting experience, but Google has been working over the last years to create web services that would dovetail nicely with Chrome OS.
Google did issue a statement on the rumor, but it was predictably bland, just reiterating their prviously stated time line. "We are very happy with the progress of Google Chrome OS and expect devices will be available later this year. We’ll have more details to share at launch," said Google of the rumors. Where do you think Chrome OS will fit in with the ever growing mobile space?
What better way to kick off your day than with a brand new tablet rumor from arguably one of the most prolific rumor mongers out there – Digitimes? The Taiwanese site is now reporting that HTC plans to launch an Android-based tablet in the first quarter of 2011. HTC's tablet is likely to run Android 3.0 (aka Gingerbread), according to a typically terse Digitimes report, citing Taiwan-based component makers. Of course, this is not the first time HTC has featured in a tablet rumor. As per a separate rumor, the company is supposed to launch a Chrome OS-based tablet on Black Friday, November 26.
“For marketing tablet PCs, HTC will have an advantage thanks to its strong ties with Google and established cooperation with mobile telecom carriers around the world, the sources pointed out, adding that if the performance and quality of the new device is on par with its smartphones, continuous support from these strategic partners is expected,” reads the report.