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Google's Chromebook stiffens competition for Windows

Posted: 13 May 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Chromebook  Chrome Web browser  network computer 

Google's latest launch, the Chromebook named for its Chrome Web browser poses a challenge to Windows and hard-drive makers hoping to become successful at the idea of the thin-client network computer.

Google officially announced at its annual developer conference that Acer and Samsung will begin shipping in June the systems that use only Web-based apps and services. The systems do not need Windows or hard disc drives.

Google will even act as a data carrier, selling to business and education full packages of hardware, management software and services for Rs.1,250.00 ($28) and Rs.892.86 ($20) a month, respectively for a three-year contract. Retailers will sell the systems direct to consumers for prices ranging from Rs.16,000 ($349) to Rs.22,000 ($499).

The Chromebook aims to boot faster (eight seconds), be more secure, easier to manage and lower cost than traditional notebooks. All the system initially use a dual-core Intel processor.

Sergey Brin

Google founder Sergey Brin, on hand for a press Q&A here, said in the next year he expects the majority of Google's employees will use Chromebooks. Today they mainly use Windows 7 PCs, he said.

Google specifies each chip in the Chromebook, giving OEMs an option between two or three chips for each function, said Sundar Pichai, senior VP of the Chrome browser platform at Google, in a brief interview with EE Times. However, Google has not yet decided whether it will make its specs public.

For years, computer executives from Sun's Scott McNealy to Oracle's Larry Ellison have pursued the dream of a simpler client computer. Whether Google can succeed where they have failed remains to be seen, but Google appears to be covering all the bases and the technology has matured to the level where a Web-only system is becoming viable.

"The complexity of managing your computers is torturing all of us—it's a flawed model and Chromebooks are a new model that doesn't put the burden of managing your computer on yourself," said Brin. "Companies who don't use that model won't be successful," he said.

"This model doesn't say just 'Trust Google'" with your data, Brin said, answering a question about privacy and control. "You are using Google's Chrome browser, but you can go to any Web site out there and they can provide you great functionality—you can go to Bing search or Yahoo," he said.

 Sundar Pichai, senior VP of the Chrome browser platform at Google

Sundar Pichai announced the Chromebook at Google I/O.

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