Google Chrome netbook: What to expect

A look at what you can expect from the Chrome OS and Google-branded netbooks expected to be unveiled Tuesday.

Google has issued invitations for a media event on Tuesday, and all signs point to some sort of official unveiling of Google-branded netbooks built on the Chrome OS. Just in case you haven't been keeping up on the Chrome OS news, here is a little background and some idea of what you can expect from a Google netbook.

First, some history. Google originally announced development of its own Web-centric operating system in July of 2009. Chrome is a Linux-based OS, but one that does not work in the way any traditional operating system works. Chrome is more like a Web browser that can boot your PC.

In other words, rather than starting an OS like Windows 7 or Mac OS X, then clicking on a Web browser like Internet Explorer or Safari, The Google Chrome OS simply boots into a Chrome browser interface -- but more like the Chrome Web browser on steroids.

You won't be able to install software on a Chrome OS netbook like you can on a Windows or Linux netbook. However, similar to the way Apple integrated Mac OS X with the iPhone / iPad app functionality, Chrome netbooks will be able to extend the functionality of the device beyond Web surfing with Chrome apps. If Google delivers on its promise, the result will be a faster experience -- optimized for mobile users that live in the cloud.

In fact, the media event on Tuesday marks a collision course between a few different Google initiatives that combine to create the Chrome OS experience. Chrome 8 -- the Web browser -- has already been released, and it -- like the Chrome OS -- is designed to work with the Web apps that will be available in the Chrome App store.

I have not yet had the privilege of working with the Chrome OS, or a Google Chrome netbook, but it seems to me that the device sits somewhere between a more full-OS netbook like a Windows or Linux-based device, and the tablets of the world like the Apple iPad or the Samsung Galaxy Tab. It should have the form factor and physical keyboard of a traditional netbook, with the more instant-on, browser-centric app environment of a tablet.

One of the biggest questions remaining -- and arguably the one that will most decide the fate of the Google OS -- is price. Not just the initial price, but the ongoing monthly price if Google chooses to align the Chrome netbook with a specific wireless carrier for mobile Web access. But, with Windows netbooks starting under $200 -- and with Web browsing included for free -- Google will have to have some aggressive pricing combined with a compelling argument for why someone should choose the Chrome netbook.

Don't hold your breath hoping for a Google Chrome netbook in your stocking this holiday season, though. The Chrome OS is still technically in beta, and Google is only expected to make about 65,000 of the Chrome netbooks available initially. The polished Chrome OS and Chrome netbooks ready for public consumption are not expected until sometime in early 2011.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags browsersGoogleApplesoftwareapplicationsnetbookhardware systemslaptops

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
Show Comments



Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?