ChromeOS Just Got a Bit Faster and More Secure


The latest version of Google’s ChromeOS now allows Chromebooks to resume faster and offers support for 802.1x secure WiFi and VPN networks.

When Google first announced the idea of Chromebooks, a series of small, Internet (and Chrome)-centric laptops made by manufacturers like Samsung and Acer, its engineers touted the fact that – unlike other laptops – Chromebooks would actually get faster over time. Chromebooks, Google said, would see the same kind of performance gains that users of its Chrome browser have gotten used to. Now, with the release of the latest stable version of the ChromeOS operating system that powers these devices, Google is starting to fulfill this promise.

The Chrome browser, of course, continues to get faster with almost every release, but according to Google, the company also managed to get ChromeOS to resume from sleep about 30% faster than before. Starting up a Chromebook generally doesn’t take more than 6 or 7 seconds these days and a resume from sleep is virtually instant, so these speed differences won’t make much of a difference in the real world. It is still nice to see that Google is still working on shaving off a few seconds from the startup and resume procedure here and there.

Besides this speed increase, the latest edition of ChromeOS also brings support for virtual private networks (VPN) (an essential feature for many business users) and support for secure 802.1x WiFi networks.

In addition, Google also notes that a number of new services that are compatible with ChromeOS, including Netflix, Amazon’s HTML5-based Cloud Reader and a tech preview of the Citrix Receiver (for running virtual versions of high-end desktop software) are now available.

3:23 pm

Google Sued Over Chromebook Name – Could Delay Launch


The first batch of Google Chromebooks is scheduled to go on sale next week, but if it’s up to U.S. PC-maker ISYS Technologies, that won’t happen. According to a press release from ISYS, the company wants Google and its partners (including Samsung, Acer, Amazon and Best Buy) to cancel the 15 June launch. According to ISYS, the name ‘Chromebook’ infringes on one of its own trademarks, the “ChromiumPC” it sells under its Xi3 label. (more…)

4:15 pm

Google Places Big Bet on Chromebooks


Google just announced a number of new features and partners around its ChromeOS program. Chromebooks, as Google calls them, will be available for purchase in the U.S., UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain on June 15. Starting at the same time, businesses and schools will be able to subscribe to the Chromebook program for $28 and $20 dollars respectively. The first Chromebooks will be made by Acer and Samsung. Acer’s first device will be a small laptop that will retail for around $349 dollars and Samsung will make a larger device that will cost $429 for a WiFi-only version and $499 for a 3G-enabled one.

What’s a Chromebook?

To provide 3G data plans, Google has also partnered with telecom companies in all of the countries it is launching this program. In the U.S. Chromebooks will be available through Amazon and Best Buy and Verizon will provide the 3G connectivity.

Samsung's Chromebook

These Chromebooks basically run a modified version of Google’s Chrome browser on top of a Linux operating system that is almost completely hidden from the user. They feature SSD drives for fast startup (8 seconds), SD card slots and a very long battery life (around 8 hours). They do not, however, allow users to install any software outside of browser extensions, making them safer and easier to upgrade than traditional laptops (but also more limited in their usefulness, as some critics point out). The devices will be based around dual-core Intel Atom processors.

Chromebook’s for Businesses and Schools

On the business side, Google is also stressing the reduced cost of maintaining these laptops, as well as their compatibility with web-based enterprise apps and apps virtualized through technologies like Citrix.

Besides laptops, Samsung will also produce a Mac Mini-like Chromebox – a small computer that allows users to attach their own screens, keyboards and mice. Google did not share any information about the price and availability of this device, though.

As Google’s Sundar Pichai told the audience during today’s keynote, managing computers is too costly and too complex for most businesses and schools. With the Chromebook, Google wants to make this cheaper and easier. Just like the CR-48 laptop Google gave away during a pilot program over the last few months, these new Chromebooks will update themselves automatically (“They will get better as you use them,” said Pichai) and businesses that subscribe to Google’s program will also get regular hardware refreshes, as well as warranties and replacements.

Besides the limited sales of its Nexus phones and its search appliance, this is really the first time Google gets this deeply into the hardware business. So far, Google hasn’t really established a reputation for great customer service, but maybe this program will give it a chance to redeem itself.

11:27 am