Google Confirms Chrome OS Netbook, Cloud, Enterprise Plans

Dave Courbanou

December 8, 2010

5 Min Read
Google Confirms Chrome OS Netbook, Cloud, Enterprise Plans

Google is poised to take on the world, and I mean that in an ominously excited way. Google, in a webcast today, spent nearly 3 hours detailing plans for Chrome (the web browser), Chrome OS (the operating system), Chrome OS netbooks, a related app store… and enterprise partners. Imaging the following scenario for VARs and MSPs: Deploying Chrome OS across all computers in a customer enterprise. Or setting up hosted applications to be run and sold from the Chrome OS Web store. Those are big ambitions. But then again we’re talking about Google. Here’s the strategy.

The Chrome Browser Web Store is here. It doesn’t need much explanation: Download free and paid apps that use HTML5 — both online and offline — and make your browser your home sweet home. Google had key people from The New York Times and show off their latest incarnations of web-apps that make browsing and reading the news or shopping easier than ever. And yes, a new Chrome Kindle app is here too. All the apps are fancy, eye catching, smooth and sexy. (A lot like Apple iOS apps that act as front-ends for back-end web content.)

Google also invited Citrix on stage to show off their Citrix Receiver, which quite impressively showed off virtualized apps running on Citrix (or your own) private cloud. Excel, a CAD program and a few other apps ran inside the Chrome browser (via the Citrix Receiver app) as though they were installed to the hard drive.

But Wait, There’s Hardware

Chrome OS is set to debut on Acer and Samsung devices coming the first half of 2011, but Google loves you, and wants you to have Chrome OS now. Every member in the audience at Google’s event today will receive a non-branded specialized prototype of the Chrome OS Netbook dubbed Chromium Isotope “Cr-48.” Cute. You can also apply online to beta test the device. Google calls it their Chrome OS Pilot Program. Google says they’ve been eating their own dog food for the last six months, and most employees are living completely on their Cr-48’s.

The device itself is all black, features a ‘jailbreak’ mode for crafty developers and a 12-inch screen complete with a full size keyboard. It won’t feature a caps lock key (replaced as a hardwired search key), as Google said they’re looking to “improve comment quality across the web.” There was applause.

Google is also introducing a ubiquitous user-account centric model. Living inside Chrome OS means you get the same experience, apps, history, layout, email and more wherever a Chrome browser is found, or when you borrow your friend’s Chrome Netbook. What’s more, Google says Chome OS features hardcore encryption, and invisible updates that will keep Chrome OS “forever new” and secure. 

Google claims Chrome OS will ship as the “most secure consumer OS ever shipped,” especially since Chrome Netbooks will ship with an on-board “veriboot” chip that ensures there has been no malevolent tampering.

Those are bold claims.

Taste The Chrome

So, who the heck would actually be on board with this thing? Apparently, a lot of big names.

Each of the companies you see on the left all are signed up to use Google Chrome OS in one form or another, for simple and quick mobile thin-clients to cubical work-horse machines. Even the Department of Defense is jumping on board due to Google’s security promises. What’s more, Verizon connectivity is going to be included all Google Chrome OS Netbooks, with Verizon generously providing 100MB of free data every month for 2 years and a swath of other affordable non-contract data buckets.

That’s a crazy amount of support and integration for a product that hasn’t been tested on the masses yet. This means one of two things: People are willing to jump on board with Google for just about anything, or that there’s a real demand for this kind of ubiquitous easy cloud computing. Methinks it’s the latter.

Still, there’s no word yet on what the ‘usability’ factor of this type of netbook and browser-based life is like. It may be convenient, but how many of the masses want to convert to that? What’s more, with the Chrome OS browser doing nearly everything a Chrome OS Netbook does, what is the appeal of the netbook-only approach? I’m not saying it’s not practical, I’m just saying, I don’t need to buy a new laptop or netbook to do the same thing.

There’s a lot more questions to cover and details to go into (I won’t even get into the under-the-hood stuff) but the implications on Chrome OS just went from vaporware-to-awesome in a few mere hours. I’ve signed up for the pilot program, and we’ll be reaching out to our Google contacts for a pilot unit. If I get one, I’ll be sure to review and run it into the ground to give you the best view of this new frontier and style of computing as I can.

It’s exiting. It’s just also slightly uncomfortable thinking about all the information Google has, don’t you think?

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