Google Gives Chrome OS Update

As expected, Google on Tuesday showed off the Chrome Web Store, as well as introducing an "always connected" limited edition Google branded netbook. The Web Store was announced in May at Google I/O.

Since Chrome OS is built on the Chrome browser, it made sense for Google to start with an overview of Chrome, the browser. Google announced Crankshaft, which will speed up the Chrome Javascript engine, by as much as 2x, the company said. Speed is one of the main reasons folks are switching to Chrome, so this will only help. Also, Google said Chrome will add browser syncing, including themes and bookmarks (without extensions).

The Chrome Web Store reminds us a lot of iTunes. Nothing wrong with that, as many people (too many, probably, for Google's liking) are used to it. Downloads from the store will install into the OS as .crx files, which anyone who has used Chrome extensions will recognize as the same extension as a Chrome browser extension.

One of the apps that Google showed off, surprisingly, was an Amazon Kindle for the Web app. It's surprising because of Monday's announcement about the Google ebookstore. That Web app won't launch until early 2011, by the way.

What people really wanted to hear about was the Chrome OS netbook that Google was expected to announce. The netbooks will be named Cr-48, with Cr the the symbol for Chromium, and 48 the isotope developers want associated with the product. The netbook will be unbranded, save Google, because as we said earlier, this netbook is not for general consumption, as the OS is not ready, either.

Instead, here's how you can try to get your hands on one:
Instead we’re launching a pilot program where we will give test notebooks to qualified users, developers, schools and businesses. We're starting with the U.S. and will expand to other countries once we get the necessary certifications. To participate in the pilot program, visit the Chrome notebook website.

The test notebooks exist only to test the software—they are black, have no branding, no logos, no stickers, nothing. They do have 12.1 inch screens, full-sized keyboards and touch pads, integrated 3G from Verizon, eight hours of battery life and eight days of standby time. Chrome notebooks are designed to reach the web instantly, are easy to share among friends and family, and simply by logging in, all of your apps, bookmarks and other browser settings are there. Setting up a new machine takes less than a minute. And even at this early stage, we feel there is no consumer or business operating system that is more secure.

In the first half of next year Chrome notebooks will be available for sale from Acer and Samsung. More manufacturers will follow. Also, Chrome OS is designed to work across a wide range of screen sizes and form factors, enabling our partners to deliver computing devices beyond notebooks.
Every Chrome netbook will have both wi-fi and cellular connectivity. Google said it had partnered with Verizon for the 3G connectivity. For the first two years, users will have 100MB of free data each month (which is basically nothing). There are no contracts, and plans begin at $9.99, with no activation, overage or cancellation fees.

You can watch a Chromercial, a sort-of ad created by Chrome engineers, below.