Chrome OS on the Move


Chrome

Chrome OS

Google’s Chrome operating system for netbooks has been in the works for a while, but the company finally seems ready for a May launch. The company launched a stable developer channel for Chrome OS last week, fueling speculation that devices with the software would be announced in May at Google I/O conference, possibly shipping by summer, as the company previously promised.

Google Chrome OS debuted almost two years ago and is an open-source operating system geared towards netbooks — the hottest-selling computers until the iPad arrived. After some delays, Google said Chrome OS devices would hit store shelves by mid-2011, a deadline rapidly approaching.

Some had a chance to test Chrome OS for the past few months via Google’s ownCR48 Chrome netbook, a hardware and software developer testbed before the arrival of mass-produced third-party hardware. The CR48 has a has a 12.1-inch screen, a full keyboard, an oversized touchpad, world-mode 3G, 802.11 Wi-Fi, a Web cam and eight hours of active battery life.

Reviewing Chrome OS and the CR48 laptopPCWorld‘s Edward Albro wrote “I don’t expect using the Chrome OS to be a revolutionary experience. Instead, it feels a bit more like working with one hand tied to your side — it’s possible, but awkward.” He notes, however, some advantages of Chrome OS versus netbooks running Windows, such as 15-second boot, longer battery life, and simplicity.

But with the iPad probably the hottest consumer device right now, do Chrome OS netbooks stand a chance? They could, if the price is lower: for example, Asus is rumored to launch a sub-$250 Chrome netbook, targeted for people who want to use basic productivity applications or browse the Web. That’s almost half the starting price of an iPad, and could be a tempting proposition for customers.

Meanwhile, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, and Toshiba, original Google partners for Chrome OS, have yet to announce any products, let alone pricing and availability, for any netbooks running the browser-centric OS.

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Windows 8 in the making


Microsoft Windows 8

Just hours after an early build of Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system leaked we’re starting to get a good idea of how the latest version of Windows is shaping up.

Intrepid users have already begun mining the build and a major departure besides the OS’s new welcome screen is already evident. Microsoft seems to have replaced the toolbar in the explorer window with the Ribbon user interface currently used Microsoft Office programs, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Ribbon-Like

Once you’ve logged in, the most noticeable change to Windows is the new Ribbon interface on every Explorer window. At this stage, the Ribbon UI is in a pretty confused state and doesn’t seem to have some of its functionality, so it’s hard to tell exactly how successful this switch will be. Within Windowseven suggests some disagreement may exist within Microsoft about using the new interface at all.

Also unclear is whether this change is permanent for all devices. The current build of Windows 8 has a toggle to return the toolbar and menus we’ve all grown accustomed to, but it’s not clear whether this will make it to the final version of Windows 8 or if it’s just a temporary measure while the design of the Ribbon gets ironed out.

Explorer

Sneak peek into Windows 8 from pcworld