back to article Google delays Chrome OS, punts brandless beta netbook

Google has announced that the first Chrome OS netbooks will arrive in "mid-2011" from Acer and Samsung. Originally, the company said that devices would arrive by the end of this year. But the company has introduced a Chrome OS "pilot program" that offers a beta netbook known as the "Cr-48" to select users. Several businesses …


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  1. Nathan 6


    Talk about DOA, if am getting netbook I might as well get windows 7 on it, instead of some half functional OS. We have seen this with Linux netbooks already, users want Windows on those things so they can run the apps the know and love. Chrome OS, it like a solution looking for a problem to solve, frankly.

    P.S. I have been a Linux user for the past 12 years, but on my notebook I want windows because I like the fact I don't have to fight to configure anything and all the apps I need, run no problem. I still can't figure how to get Skype to work with webcam on my Linux box, and not even going to bother.

    1. Chemist

      "how to get Skype to work with webcam on my Linux box"

      Funny it works on all 7 of mine ! - and they are all different hardware

    2. Goat Jam
      Thumb Down

      Linux user for 12 years

      and can't get skype webcam working?

      I call bullshit. I had to set it up on Ubuntu a year ago for my then GF and it took seconds.

      Peddle your FUD elsewhere troll.

      1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD


        The OP has a bit of a point. When a new netbook comes out, there is often a scrabble to find drivers for linux. It's a bloody PITA. I remember the old days trying to get drivers for the Eee 701.

        It's a lot better these days, now that we are aware of just what can go in an atom netbook but it will be interesting if the chrome netbooks are ARM. I don't believe they've sorted out all the open source linux drivers for the Tosh AC100 for example.

        The chrome thing could be a good thing if somewhat decent ARM netbooks are delivered.

        Obviously the thing to do would be to junk chrome and put something else on, but how easy this will be as stated will depend on how available drivers are and in what form. And if not, how much info they will provide for us to build them.

        Let's hope the big players that build decent kit (like Asus etc) recognise that there are people like us out there and make things easy for us.

    3. Lewis Mettler 1

      all the apps you need?


      You do not need a Microsoft OS at all.

      The whole point of the Chrome OS is that nothing needs to be configured and web apps satisfy all your needs. Now maybe you have something you think is critical and not available as a web app but I doubt it.

      Salesmen always claim that their product is indispensable. But, then that is what identifies them as a salesman.

  2. StuBallimol

    follow launch of Chrome OS and beta apps

    this ties in with a UK/USA campaign launch, which will be played out on the Chrome OS with some added extra toys

  3. SilverWave

    hmm this was appealing 6 month ago but now I have a HTC Desire so...

    What is its unique selling point?

    TBH I just don't see it.

    Here is hoping that Google have a plan.

    And a better one than wave.

    1. K. Adams

      "What is its unique selling point?"

      It's selling point is the fact the system (i.e., the Netbook/OS as an integrated unit) does one thing and does one thing well: it provides access to content over the Internet.

      And while I would be apprehensive about running Google Native Client code on my general-purpose desktop/laptop -- compiling a webapp down to x86 so it can run directly on the hardware give me the shivers** -- the advantages provided by near-native execution speeds would probably be necessary to ensure adequate performance in webapps that actually do something useful.

      Since the world's moving back to the mainframe paradigm anyway (i.e., centralised back-end, remote user interface), if properly implemented, I would venture that a ChromeOS netbook could be a very cost-effective way to provide access to in-house compute facilities to a roaming user base. For example, I would not be at all surprised if Panasonic came out with a ChromeOS-based Toughbook oriented toward the needs of industrial equipment technicians, field service engineers, and public utility linemen...

      **Google's design scheme notwithstanding: The Google Native Client builds a sandboxed environment that uses three methods to enforce good code behaviour: privileged instruction trapping, x86 memory segmentation, and block-aligned branch targets.

      -- -- The first method uses a code verfication facility to filter and/or trap all "dangerous" instructions.

      -- -- The second method makes use of a legacy x86 memory management facility that was once the mainstay of DOS-based memory managers: A block of memory is carved out of the available memory pool, which is then subdivided into segments. In x86 Real Mode or Virtual 8086 Mode, the memory manager allows the creation of segments fixed at 64KiB in size within the bounds of a 20-bit virtual address block. Code within a given virtual block can normally jump only to code within the same block, and can only access data in segments within the same block. In x86 Protected Mode, the memory manager allows for the creation of a contiguous virtual address space constructed from chunks of non-contiguous RAM. Protected mode segments can vary in length. As with RM or V86M, code can normally only jump to instructions and/or access data within its own virtual address space.

      -- -- The third method forces all indirect jumps and branches (read: pointers) to land at the start of a 32-byte aligned block. The environment is also constructed in such a way that instructions cannot straddle the 32-byte alignment boundary. This is intended to ensure that code can't jump to an unsafe/unallowed instruction intentionally buried within an otherwise safe multi-byte instruction.

      Even so, the x86 platform has a long and storied history when it comes to exploits, and it may be only a matter of time before the Native Client's shell (no pun intended) is cracked as well.

      1. quartzie

        one thing I'm not going to get anytime soon.

        If the functionality of my "new" notebook is going to depend on 3G signal reception, then I might as well forget it in the near future (3-5 years minimum). There are so many places that barely have 2G coverage that the idea is as ridiculous as depending on Google Navigation to actually get you somewhere.

        Unless you spend all your time in an exceptionally well covered city.

      2. Giles Jones Gold badge

        One trick ponies are obsolete

        But people don't buy things that do one thing well these days (unless the single function device does it exceptionally well, eg. SLR camera).

        You don't see people carrying a phone, portable games console, mp3 player and digital camera around with them. A smartphone integrates these.

        1. Lewis Mettler 1

          Internet hardly a one trick pony

          For a large number of users Internet access is their only trick.

          Email, IM, social networks, searches, etc. That is their life. Being limited to Internet access is hardly a limitation when that is all you do anyway.

          Hey, I would not want that myself. But, I develop code. I am not the normal user. Neither do I use anything from Microsoft unless forced to by service providers.

          Search might be a one trick pony. But, the Internet certainly is not.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        sandboxing and non-x86 CPUs

        That sounds very x86-centric. What happens with ARM, MIPS and so on? Are the NaCl binaries portable, or do you need one for each target instruction set?

      4. Keith 21

        Does one thing and one thing well...

        "It's selling point is the fact the system (i.e., the Netbook/OS as an integrated unit) does one thing and does one thing well:"


        It's just a shame that the "one thing" it does is hand more of your data to Google to enable them to target even more adverts at you.

        I will not be rushing to sell my soul to the great Google Advertising Conglomorate, thank you very much.

      5. greggo

        Native Client Instruction Filtering

        Many of the X86 exploits (e.g. F00F bug) have relied on unusual instruction encoding; the many prefix bytes allow for many combinations, some of which are legal. The F00F bug is an illegal use of LOCK prefix which is supposed to trap, but on certain silicon the hardware steps on its own shoelaces trying to trap it, halting the CPU. The Native Client approach is to give you a white-list of instructions, which excludes a LOT of instructions; you can't execute any privileged instruction, you can't use an instruction that changes a segment register, you can't use an instruction with more than one prefix byte; you can't use vector ops which are not enabled on your target (some CPUs which don't support SSE ops will ignore the prefix and execute an MMX op instead, potentially dangerous). Basically the rationale is that intel hasn't provided a trustworthy, fully functional illegal-instruction trap mechanism, so rather than rely on it, NaCl implements a fairly restrictive whitelist. The loader scans your code in advance to ensure there's nothing bad in there before running any of it.

        This means you need a NaCl-aware compiler/linker, of course.

        Another other aspect of NaCl is that the hosted program cannot use the underlying native OS APIs, since that creates hazards and makes the NaCl container OS-specific. Instead there is an isolation layer and special NaCl API for I/O.

    2. Doug 3

      RE: now I have a HTC Desire so...

      try typing anything like the post following yours( hint, it was very long ) on your HTC Desire. Just one reason why you would want a netbook( or laptop ) over a smartphone or even tablet. Just one.

  4. richardgsmith


    Only shipping preview boxes in the US, shame.

    This is going to be pretty big, the average home-user and small business owner on a budget is going to eat these up in a big way, especially when some clever manufacturer comes out with a model for the same price a a night in the pub, which is likely.

    1. Goat Jam

      Define "big"

      "This is going to be pretty big, the average home-user and small business owner on a budget is going to eat these up in a big way"

      Oh, I would love that to be the case, don't get me wrong, but the current crop of PC manufacturers have proven time and time again that the just don't grok anything that is not Windows on x86.

      I don't know whether this is due to pressure from their Wintel overseers or whether they are just truly that clueless.

      I look forward to ChromeOS based boxes with x86 processors, spinning hard disks and 4Gb RAM in order to accommodate the "Full Featured Windows Versions" of the same hardware that they OEMs will inevitably want/be forced to sell alongside the identical ChromeOS versions.

      Of course the price and battery life will suck just like they do on the current crop of netbooks, as will the portability and robustness but that's the price you have to pay to appease your Wintel masters.

      Because it will be no cheaper than any other netbook and the ChromeOS version is likely to be the same price or more than the Windows version then of course people will either a) choose another product (such as the ipad) or b) choose the Windows version because that is what they are used to.

      A year from now, sales of ChromeOS based units will be widely described as "disappointing" due to them being Just Another Overpriced And Bloated Notbook and this will be a cue for all the MS shills and fanboys to come out in force yelling about how it is yet more proof that Linux sucks and people just want the "Windows Experience".

      See post #1 in this very thread for a preview of the sort of slavish adherence to the status quo that is common out there in IT Land.

      But then again, I could be wrong. Here's hoping I am.

      1. RichyS
        Thumb Up

        Totally agree... with Goat Jam

        @Goat Jam

        Unfortunately, I totally agree with you. I think a ChromeOS netbook properly defines what a netbook should be (the clue is in the 3 letters before 'book'). I really like the idea, but suspect that it will flop.

        Google do not appear to be very good at marketing the sort of concept which is a bit tricky for your average consumer to understands. Wave and Buzz being excellent examples of Google producing something quite clever, but having no idea how to market it. Google will just explain what a Chrome netbook is, what features it has, etc., but will (as usual) totally fail to explain the benefit to consumers in terms that they understand.

        Contrast this with an iPhone 4 advert I saw last night. It started out by saying that the iPhone 4 had a Lithium polymer battery. So what. Your average consumer probably has no idea what this is, or if it's good or bad, or whether other phones have LiPoly batteries. But, the bulk of the advert then goes on to explain what this means to the user -- longer time listening to music, more downloads, more FaceTime, more video recording, etc. Then the killer line of 'all in the thinest smartphone available'. So the viewer goes away thinking that they can do more in a smaller package with the iPhone 4, rather than going away thinking 'the iPhone 4 has a LiPoly battery. And?'

        This is what Google need to get. They need to explain the clear benefits of ChromeOS over Win7 in a netbook. And not in terms of: well, it's got an ARM processor instead of an Atom. I don't suppose this will happen though.

  5. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    I have applied.

    Well I have applied. I am leery of the idea…but I am leery of all things new. As a sysadmin, I find the idea of drinking the internet through a browser straw interesting; can I provision all of my company’s services to my users as SAAS? Interesting exercise. What about my personal usage? I already do nearly everything from my Desire…but a lot of that is using the Wyse PocketCloud app to RDP into things. Can I use a browser-only device that can’t do RDP without going mad?

    I don’t know. I’d love the chance to find out though! I imagine there aren’t exactly many of these to go around, espessially as I am Canadian rather than American. Still, it was only a few minutes of my time to apply...why not, eh? Either way, I hope that someone from either El Reg or Ars Technica (or both) manage to get their paws on one. I’d love to see some in depth reviews from folk I trust to write about them who’ve actually put the things through their paces.

    As negative as I generally am…this could be a game changer, or a flop…it’s still too early to tell how it will shake out. I guess it depends on how sexy all those NaCl add-ons to the Chrome browser really are…

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Consumer: fine. Small business: fine.

    Corporate: not going to happen.

    1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Corporate might be the break-through market, actually.

      It ticks a lot of boxes for the modern corporate - admin and support costs should be a tenth of that required for a Windows or Linux based PC population, with security being good, and purchase price being half that of Windows PCs.

      All it requires is a good set of locally-hosted office and bespoke apps running on the local Intranet, and most corporates will snap them up, I think. MS Office Web Edition (or whatever it's called) as a locally-hosted option should tip the balance nicely.

      We shall see. Interesting year next year, I think.


    2. Lewis Mettler 1

      Corporate may be more likely

      Corporate may be more likely.

      It is a more controlled environment. Plus many employees have only a limited use of or for the Internet or for any computer system.

      Chances are pretty high that if you are an employee for a large company, your use of a computer of any kind is very limited. And that is exactly what IT managers want. Give each employee a device that lets them do their assigned work and nothing more. It is ideal in many situations.

      Individual consumers may think differently. Even small businesses. But, true corporate work is all about control and efficiency. Not flexibility and do as you wish.

  7. alwarming
    Paris Hilton

    google likes doing this, don't they ?

    throw in opera, firefox and chrome. They all eat away from the IE share.

    throw in android, chromeos and see if it eats from the windows share...

    all in all, they see these technologies as enablers to their ultimate business goal- make it easier for people to get on the web.

    So what's my point ? I don't think google really believes in any of these products per se. They are just eanblers to an end game. And hence I feel they listen a little less to customers than, say, a vendor whose livelihood depended on it.

    customary paris.

    1. Dave Murray


      Google's ultimate goal is to show you more adverts so they can sell more adverts. Anything else is just smoke and mirrors.

      1. Doug 3

        RE: Goals

        yes, their goal is to show and sell more ads but from what I've heard, they believe they can do this just by getting more people online and getting more people to do stuff online more than not. I currently don't see a problem with this as long as they continue to run ads which are subtle and are focused. I've been to a few BING fed sites and it was a pain how in-your-face they were. And what really bugs me are those BING fed forums where every third word is hightlighted and mousing over it pops up this PIA ad you have to close to continue reading the forum posts. It's like playing PacMan trying to more the mouse down the page without hitting one of those target words.

        So if Google wants to make money by getting more people online and they do it with good quality products then what is wrong with that?

        WTF because this is not new information but you're saying it like it's evil or something.

      2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Heavy Cloud Cover for Virtual Machine Takeover of the Human Condition.

        "Google's ultimate goal is to show you more adverts so they can sell more adverts. Anything else is just smoke and mirrors." ..... Dave Murray Posted Tuesday 7th December 2010 22:11 GMT

        Err, that is very nearly correct, Dave Murray, and Google will not mind that you have got their ultimate goal so wrong, considering the colossal and extremely sensitive power plays that they are engaged in with ........ well, let us just not mention any particular operating system/administration, for whenever your aim is for the dominant leading position in dominant leading markets, is everyone viewed as a valuable customer/stupid consumer/smart agent.

        The correction to reflect that which they are doing, and doing quite well, and doing a lot better than most others who would also be dabbling in the field, is showing you new products and services which capture your imagination and wealth, and in doing so, generate wealth for economy and industry and increase their control of markets, both emerging and established, towards absolute and fabulous levels. ........ The One Ring to Rule and Guide Them All.

        And if one is to dismiss Google as being engaged in that, then obviously someone else is doing it with the technology and communications chains/channels/tunnels/clouds now so freely available to those with a mind enabled to use them in such a manner, and Google will be following and dancing to their tune, rather than leading the markets with Special Programming Application of their own, and would be using their Internet Service Provisions.

        Indeed, for all that anyone knows, Google may have been contacted in order to act as Champions in the Field, thoroughly betatesting future new products and services, or Champions in the Field, thoroughly betatesting future new products and services, may have contacted Google to advise them of Special Programming Applications which lead Markets, which are two completely different things, which can be the same, albeit then in something again completely different.

        Once you step into Quantum Fields of Communication for Computer Command and Binary Operating Systems of Control, are you into a whole New NeuReal World Order System which is QuITe SurReal and Immaculately Protected by Sublime Intelligence Supply.

        Fire in the hole.......

        1. Anonymous Coward

          @amanfromMars 1

          Lay off the dope, son.

          1. James Hughes 1


            You've not been here long have you. amanfrommars is a legend in his own lunchtime - dope notwithstanding. He even has his own icon for goodness sake...

            1. alwarming

              Sarah Bee et al - please 2 enlighten!

              I believe there is one real amanfrommars (with the long, nonsensical, yet entertaining ramblings) and since el reg allowed multiple people to use the same name earlier - there were clones.

              Once el reg forced unique poster names schema, we tarted seeing multple amanfrommarsNNN.

              And around the same time amanfrommars also kinda matrued/started staying low/etc.

              So under the new schema - which one is the "real" amanfrommars ?

              waiting by my spaceship,

              a nerd from earth.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I got an "invite"

    But it's US only and the email looked like spam. Plus it turns out I was only eligible to apply for one.

    Still, I'll be interested to see what it's like. Having spent much of a day setting up a new netbook, one which is ready to go in 60 seconds from new sounds much better.

  9. Lord Lien

    Can anyone give these machines....

    ..... to people who work in the real world?

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Is there no start to this man's computing knowledge?

    Pichai acknowledged that "computers aren't really useful if they're not connected to the web"

    Nice to know I was totally wasting my time for around 3 decades from the late 60's.

    And just think how much the country could have saved by using the backs of envelopes for things like nuclear pressure vessel design instead of spending a fortune on useless computers.

    Really needs a FAIL background wallpaper rather than a teeny icon.

  11. Giles Jones Gold badge


    Google are pitching netbooks when most netbook users are now thinking about tablets.

  12. penguin slapper


    Tried it earlier this year.

    It's a 2gig bootable browser.

    Give me strength.

    You want an alternative to Windows try Linux.

    Linux doesn't spy on you, keeps your data where it belongs (on your hard drive) and offers you a lot of apps.

    Being trendy is b*ll*cks.

    Being in control is everything.

  13. Syntax Error

    Web Browser

    So its just a web browser.

    1. Paul M 1


      Yes, of course it's just a web browser.

      And the web is just a bunch of HTML, right?

  14. Mage

    Not A Notebook

    Lets not call this an OS or a Notebook.

    It's purely a Web appliance. The fact it runs Linux, Chrome or looks like a Notebook will be irrelevent for anyone that needs to use this.

    It's for Companies or people that don't want the hassle of a computer.

    Secure? Of course when you are not meant to install stuff. Of course nit-wits will "jailbreak" it to have linux desktop, thus potentially allowing Chrome OS appliances to be added to the legions of the undead.

  15. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Chrome OS : A hacker's delight

    That's 'hacker' in it's good old fashioned tinkering sense.

    The great thing about PC's running Chrome OS is that they should be cheap and quite powerful. That makes them potentially superb machines if they can be hacked to do something else and re-purposed to be more useful than they are.

    Such things have been going on for NAS, routers and other 'appliances' for a long while. No local storage? Not a problem when someone works out how to add it and bypass OS lock-down.

    Just look at the O2 Joggler community; a product which was largely 'fail' as it was intended to be used but is being used in all manner of ways which were not provided for out the box.

  16. quartzie

    100M per month, not every day

    the writer seems to have misunderstood the data plan offered with chromeOS devices.

    the presentation, however, mentioned a rather measly 100M/month instead. This may sound more open while avoiding a serious lock-in, but it also means the additional $10 charge per month will become almost mandatory.

  17. Sean Hunter
    Big Brother

    Sooper Seekrit Google Biz Plan

    They have it as a template so you just need to do search and replace:

    Phase 1) Release X.

    Phase 2) Use it to take people's data.

    Phase 3) Sell them advertising

    Phase 4) PROFIT!!!

    They're like the underpants gnomes except not funny.

  18. Bilgepipe

    One word....


    1. Lewis Mettler 1


      Because for many individuals the Internet is their computer.

      And for corporate types, control is everything. Control and simplicity.

      If you think a computer should do everything that is fine. I understand that. I much prefer that myself. But, for a vast majority of users simplicity is key. And access to the Internet is all they want anyway.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    100MB per MONTH free

    "The two companies will provide 100MB of free data per day for two years"

    That should say per month. That might reduce some over-stimulation.

  20. The main man

    Won't take off everywhere

    Cloud service requires constant access to the internet. In third world countries and places with poor internet conncetions, it will not take off. At the moment Chrome has 50/50 chance of failure or sucess. It took years for Microsoft to grab the market and Chrome will be no exception (assuming she is to suceed)

  21. Anonymous Coward


    From the BBC coverage :

    Compete against Windows and Mac OS-X

    said Eric Schmidt, Google's chief operating officer

    "Finally there is a viable third choice for an operating system."

    So even Google don't think existing Linux options are suitable for the mainstream

  22. Anonymous Coward


    The Google seems to have a very decent premise.

    Who needs a mega-os now?

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Finally there is a viable third choice for an operating system

    Yes. Android.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Really no point to it...

    Utterly pointless concept when they've already got Android.

    And they're a long way from getting it to work at the moment - I've tried to use it. Re-inventing the wheel, using a gentoo build system. *shudder*

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