back to article Google floats monthly subscriptions to Chrome OS notebooks

Google will offer Chrome OS notebooks to business and students for a monthly subscription fee beginning June 15. The subscription will include both hardware and software updates. Earlier this year, it was rumored that Google would offer its browser-centric notebooks under a subscription model, and the company made it official …

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  1. HMB
    Alert

    Chromebook will be so Awesome!

    Having a chromebook will be so awesome!

    So long as you don't have BT as your internet provider or wholesale internet provider. (Tiny usage caps)

    Or so long as you don't have to rely on 3G coverage which is pretty flaky

    Or as long as you didn't want to do any capture or editing of video

    Or so long as you didn't want to be able to zoom the document you were working on to fit the width of the page (global zoom will mess up the interface), you know, like you do in Word.

    I do like Google stuff, I have a Nexus One android phone. I do see the appeal of a Google DumbBook, but even if I bought this for my Nan she'd be asking why it wasn't working and where her email had gone to when she wondered into a signal dead spot.

    It's a lovely idea, but ahead of it's time. Neither the web apps nor network infrastructure are going to make using this device fun just at the moment.

    On the other hand, maybe it will make some really kick as web-apps happen. Oh wait! We still have to code for IE7 & 8. Never mind then.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Agreed, but

      I think they're aiming this at the world they'd want us all to live in rather than the one where we actually reside (today at any rate). With their clout and market position they will probably "make it so" in the not too distant. If you think about it, as an ad broker they are only really interested in the places in the world that have decent infrastructure (telecomms, mobile, ...) or can afford to invest in infrastructure. These are the places that are full of people itching to be advertised at so that they can consume stuff.

      I'm no fanboi but they've figured it out for sure.

      $500 million for anti-trust fund? Is that all...

      1. Disco-Legend-Zeke
        Pint

        I Expect Most Users...

        ...will bundle connectivity.

        The bandwidth requirements of a thin client can be very low, the virtual machine will have access to your cloudy files, and to the Internet, at wire speed.

        Google already has better backbone than the carriers to most cities and, as enigmatix points out, can afford to build out the last 100 yards with meshed WI-FI. The question is if they want to be in the carrier business.

        If they do, they will eat the Internet. Starting with Sprint.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yawn

    There's already plenty of deals to get a free notebook with a mobile contract, like this one at £31.31 a month for the hardware and mobile 5GB internet. This isn't even a student special.

    http://www.store-3.co.uk/3-three-broadband-samsung-n145.html

    With the same form factor as the Chome OS notebook at least a normal netbook lets you run and connect whatever devices you want, not just Google's Apps or the ridiculous limited and small selection of applications from the Chrome Web Store.

  3. Gil Grissum
    Grenade

    Stampede towards Chromebooks? I don't think so

    I'm all for Linux, but a browser based OS with no local storage and offline usage ability for the same price as a fully featured Windows notebook? Even smart phones and tablets have local storage and local app usage abilities offline. They'd better knock the price down a bit lower if they expect people to be interested in this. And we're supposed to pay a subscription for updates? I don't think so. Who is going to pay an update fee for their chrome book when they don't have to for a smart phone or tablet? No thanks Google. You can have your Chrome book. I'm not giving up control of local file storage and apps usage. No cloud for me, thanks.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They don't even use them at Google

    Apparently even Google fans and engineers are all about Macs:

    http://9to5google.com/258/at-google-io-everybody-uses-mac-notebooks-even-google/

    So why should users take up their limited, bug-ridden, pile of garbage? You have to really be living in Google Lalaland to buy this.

    1. Wallyb132
      FAIL

      Umm dear sir...

      I believe you spoke just a tad too soon... please see El Reg story:

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/05/11/sergey_brin_on_windows_at_google/

      it looks as though the googlites are using it...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not really

        That story only says that 80% don't run Windows, which would be true if they run OSX or Linux.

        Sergey only said they "hope" to move employees to Chrome, not that any have done so yet.

        So take your FAIL and post it all over yourself.

        1. Steven Raith
          FAIL

          Yes, except....

          ....Your other post strongly insinuates they all use Mac OS, despite your only evidence being seven photos showing Mac gear. Which says nowt for what Google itself uses - only what (and I quote) "journalists, bloggers and guests" use.

          So wind yer neck in, eh?

          Steven R

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            What other post

            First I never insinuate they run Mac OS, as I said several times it can be Linux as well as it also runs fine on Apple's machines. We just know it's not Windows.

            As for the evidence, well it's not my evidence. The photos and article, posted in a Google fan news site, are from a journalist that is actually there at Google IO. The title is pretty clear "At Google I/O, everybody uses Mac notebooks (even Google)". Do you pretend to know more about what people are using there than him?

            If so please do post in what quality you say otherwise or your proof to the contrary then.

            1. Steven Raith
              Happy

              This other post

              http://forums.theregister.co.uk/post/1061409

              Also, I *may* have had a couple of pints in me when I posted that, so ignore my low level arseyness and skim reading. Too knackered now to bother formulating any argument (if there is one to be had - you make a good point about reporting the words of a reporter to be fair) so never mind, eh?

              Steven R

  5. Dunstan Vavasour
    Happy

    My Mum and Dad

    Well, for my Mum who rarely writes a document, and whose primary usage is email, browsing and simple games (card games), I love the idea. She can turn it on when she wants to use it, print stuff out using cloudprint, and then turn it off again at the switch. And I don't need to set her up a backup regime, coz nothing's held on the machine. And if the very worst comes to the very worst, and she drops it, the machine is a FRU.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Your Mum and Dad

      What advantage would this have over an iPad or a similar offering with Android on it?

    2. Doug Glass
      Paris Hilton

      So $28*12...

      ... ,which works out to $336 per year, is preferable to buying her a $500 laptop and installing a really good free email client? Or maybe using a web based email? Works for you maybe, but after 18 months you're throwing money down the proverbial rat hole. Assuming the laptop lasts, but I'll make the horrendous assumption any will last as long as the Google product.

      Paris because there's no Lindsay Lohan icon to represent thievery.

  6. Lamont Cranston

    Coming soon:

    GKettle. Like a regular kettle, but somehow better, and will only boil GWater.

    GWater is £20 per litre.

    1. dotdavid
      Jobs Horns

      GKettle

      I think you're confusing GWater with iWater.

      GWater is free at the point of consumption, but we're logging how much you drink and reserve the right to show you targeted advertisements that fit in with your water-drinking preferences.

    2. Head
      Thumb Down

      @ Gkettle

      me: But why would i need a Gkettle? Whats wrong with my regular kettle?

      google: zOMGGGG you are still using a REGULAR KETTLE man??!?!

      me: Yeah, why not?

      google: BECAUSE YOU ARE SITTING THERE ALL DAY EVERY DAY WAITING FOR IT TO UPDATE!!!!1!

      me: ... wtf.

      google: Yeah man, and the GKettle even comes with built in spaces all over it for handy advertisements!

      Seriously though, for the price they are asking, whats wrong with a netbook and linux? At least then if you run out of money you still have access to all your work.

  7. Wallyb132
    WTF?

    Here we go...

    Google fires the first shot in monthly subscription based OS's. I figured it would be microsoft that would be the first to market with the monthly access OS.

    But now you can guess that M$ wont be too far behind...

  8. jim 45
    Thumb Down

    DOA

    The price is a complete non-starter.

  9. Robert Moore
    Flame

    A first.

    I have never used this phrase before. But I feel it is time.

    Epic fail!

    There I feel better.

  10. Old Handle
    Thumb Down

    I don't see the appeal

    But people will probable flock to it anyway.

    If someone needs a notebook on the cheap, there are plenty of used ones out there. Last time I needed a "more portable" computer, I got a netbook of Craigslist for $200. It works perfectly, came with a real OS, and I get to keep it forever, instead of seven months.

  11. vincent himpe

    thats 280$ a year for students

    ... if it were 28$ a year , maybe .... and when you write your PHD thesis the chocolate factury can index and snoop around in it firsthand..

    no thank you. i'll use a regular laptop , encrypted drive and offsite encrypted backup thank you.

    besides 12.1 inch... probalby at 800x600 resolution too. i can;t see it running anything serious.

    students these days use stuff like matlab, mathcad and other 'big-iron' apps.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I partly agree, but

      check out Sage: http://www.sagemath.org/

      and of course wolfram-alpha.

  12. Adze
    Pint

    I'm not convinced this is aimed at MS...

    ...it sounds much more like the antithesis to Mac. Something you "pay little or nothing for to acquire, but which costs you a regular subscription fee ending up costing you a small fortune per year" is about as close to a polarisation of "take out a second mortgage to buy your handbag computer to amaze and wow your artsy mates with, which you then have to pay nothing for on a monthly basis because it just works (TM)" surely?

    Anyone with an ounce of common sense can evil bay themselves a pre-loved yesterweek netbook for around a hundred quid and pop to their local PC World for a tennersworth of flash drive to install a gnu/linux live distro to. Plenty of pubs have free WiFi so you get to have a pint or three... (ok, six, pub WiFi is rarely fast and always oversubscribed) while your download finishes and you can rebuild your netbook while you sup - of course nobody is going to;

    "Wow is that the new iThingy, gosh you're attractive would you like to sleep with me?"

    ...over your 2 or 3 year old yesterhardware and quite probably they'll be a bit disdainful of the;

    "That's the 'for geeks and people who can do Maths in their head' operating system right?"

    ...but hey ho, you'll have a helluvalotmore money to spend on beer, or anything else for that matter and nobody is going to break into your house to steal your stuff if you accidentally dispose of the packaging in plain sight.

    Toss up between 'joke alert' and 'pint' icon... pint wins but only because it's got a bit lairy waiting for Debian to finish downloading on the free WiFi and has had a couple too many.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Agreed

      This is really a product aimed at those feverish anti-Mac people who would would take up a monthly subscription of Larry Page's turds just to feel smug and tell others how superior they are for not buying Apple.

  13. Stephen Bungay

    Its gonna be a hard sell....

    There are two things I don't like about this.

    1. The device depends on the network instead of the network depending on the device.

    2. The ongoing costs incurred are good for Google and your ISP... bad for you.

    Computing devices that can stand alone OR interoperate over a network are the more robust choice. Those devices which NEED the network in order to operate are fragile. Without the network they are as useful as a boat in a desert.

    On the cost side $28.00 a month (not including taxes) might not sound like much, but that is a decent full-featured notebook computer over the course of 15 months, and one that will not result in you continuing to spend $28.00 a month thereafter After 15 months you can start to pocket your $28.00 (perhaps to buy an extra gallon of gasoline for your SUV).

    But seriously, lets do the math. Around here we pay 13% VAT on EVERYTHING, so $28.00 becomes $31.64. Over the course of 12 months thats $379.68. Yes a notebook can be had for $379.00 ($428.27 after taxes), so in just over 15 months the computer is yours.. rent free.

    A better solution

    Buy the notebook and kick Windows to the curb, replacing it with a Linux Distro. Surf the web, write your email, visit youtube, write a book, play your music (heck! WRITE your music!) and do all the things you do now. In 15 months or so you won't have any financial obligations to your netbook and the savings really begin! You can even send some money off to the Distro-maker to reward them for their fine work, but you don't have to do it every month, so you're not putting yourself into servitude by forever renting your PC and its O/S.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    It won't suit everyone, but it certainly will suit plenty

    You can buy it outright in 12 months blah blah blah.

    It's peanuts a month for a never-ending, periodically upgraded tool. I use the web, email, SSH. If these things can be replaced quickly (when I drop it / lose it) I'll happily pay £30 for the privilege. It's a business expense, so, I'm only reducing my kickback to HMRC. I currently run Apple because it works and I can buy a new one off the shelf in any major city and be up and running in a couple of hours. It's not going to suit people who want to play games, or, edit their cinematic masterpieces, but, if the tool is fit for the job you need, why not just rent it. If google can get me a new one and my data is ready within a few hours, I'll happily swap to this.

    I lease a car which gets replaced every two years, yes, I could buy one, and then it's mine, but it's also my liability.

    Buy property, rent everything else.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Good luck

      Setting up a SSH client with key exchange login on Chrome OS.

      Also I doubt the £30 will cover lost/dropped laptops. Probably more You drop it you pay for it.

    2. Bill Fresher

      Lovely.

      "Buy property, rent everything else."

      I run an underwear rental company. Please send email address. All underwear less than two years old. Free valet service ever 6 months.

      1. Doug Glass
        Go

        Spot Removal

        Do you charge extra for skid mark removal? Or is that an undocumented "feature"?

    3. tonyoung
      Thumb Up

      I'm so ...

      ... glad that SOMEONE gets it!

      This will become a serious business tool over time (unlike some tablets) and I'm very seriously considering waiting for this - and may have to cancel my Amazon pre-order for an Asus Transformer/dock.

      Tony

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @tonyoung

        Oh yes, it'll be a great business tool alright, especially if your business is wanking because it'll work great with all those porn websites. For the rest, not so much.

        How much are they paying for sperm now?

        1. Doug Glass
          Go

          True so true

          And a good store of "lead" will trump a good stash of gold any day of the week.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Buy property?

      Trouble is you don't actually own property (land) either... don't pay the taxes and watch the property get taken away from you.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    monthly subscription for software updates?

    ummm. yes, I'm all for Linux.

    but, in fact, I'll just get a Linux box thanks - I can then upgrade to latest software whenever I want for free...and change OS if I want.

  16. Sarah Davis
    FAIL

    Another company that doesn't listen

    I really can't see the point in this unless all you want mobile phone functionality without the phone, in which case get a phone or a tablet. Clearly this isn't aimed at computer users. At least Linux has more functionality.

    I really hope it fails for many reasons, but it probably won't because there are plenty of stupid people out there who think it's a good thing (until they've bought one and are tied into an 18 month contract).

    At $336 a year you'd have to be stupid or ignorant to buy one as you could buy a proper notepad or laptop with a proper OS and far better functionality, or even a tablet if you don't need a full computer - it fails just on the maths alone,... add to that the limited range of software and capabilities,... really, what is the point,..

  17. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    3 YEARS!?

    I was still thinking this had a slight chance until I read the latest numbers from the keynote.

    For business or edu customers it's a 3 year contract at $28 a month. So after the 3 years you'll have paid Google $1008 for each Wifi-only $429 machine, or roughly a 92% annual interest rate. There's also a 10 unit minimum purchase on that. As for support all you get is a Google staffed phone line, but really what manufacturer doesn't provide that these days.

    Add to that the fact that for corporate customers that does NOT include Google Apps so you'll be looking at paying $50/user/year just to have decent functionality. Also don't think about running your company's stuff unless you're ready to run those apps on "corporate backoffice servers" (you'll need to buy those) and pony up the thousands for a Citrix setup.

    Normal home users will have to pay the full $429, which would buy a decent netbook anyway.

    Oh and the 3G packages are sold with 100MB included data. For a machine that lives in the "cloud".

    I really, really don't see the point. I would include an even larger FAIL icon if there was one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Rate

      "So after the 3 years you'll have paid Google $1008 for each Wifi-only $429 machine, or roughly a 92% annual interest rate."

      Annual interest rate = 33%, not 92%.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC May I ask

        How are you calculating that? I was basing this on the UK APR calculation method, but even if you use the US formula it still comes up at a whopping 67%.

        It's $570 of interest on a $429 original loan over 3 years, no way you twist it will it ever be 33%.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          FAIL

          Maths

          429 * 1.33 * 1.33 * 1.33 = 1009

          back to school for you methinks

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            LOL

            So thats how you do it... well I'm sorry then my post was meant for people who where at least at Secondary school level. When you get to there you'll understand what adults mean by APR and so on, its all boring and complicated adult stuff.

            Meanwhile don't go applying for loans or credit cards. Let your mommy or daddy handle those.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: LOL

              You simply stuck $0 as the final value in the interest rate calculation (so you assumed a $429 loan paid off over 3 years at $28 a month).

              That's wrong.

              Google updates the hardware as part of the payment... if you assume you're left with a new (ish?) laptop of value $429 at the end of 3 years you're paying 33% a year, not 92%.

              LMAO.

        2. Doug Glass
          Go

          The Math Never Lies

          However, there's plenty of liars who are mathematicians.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      keeping it simple

      $1008 - $429 = $579 total interest

      $579 / 3 years = $193 per annum

      193 * 100 / 429 = 44.988%

  18. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Bloody expensive

    Looks like they're talking about $20 per month for education and $28 for normal business use, with a 3 year contract / commitment. And it doesn't seem to include Google Apps.

    So for us (education) that's $720 per machine for 3 years. Assuming 1 USD = 0.614691 GBP I make that £443.

    We're already paying *less* than that to buy a PC and put Windows and MS Office onto it with our educational licences. Why do Google think we'd be interested?

  19. sabroni Silver badge
    WTF?

    so you improve security..

    ...by giving all your stuff to someone else to look after?

  20. Keith 21
    WTF?

    So...

    ...buy a ChromeBox and run Google ChromOS, letting you run anything you want as long as it is officially sanctioned and provided by Google, runs only when you are online, connected to Google's servers, where Google see, store and control everything you do?

    Really?

    and the Fandroids claim that Apple is too controlling?!?!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fandroids?

      I like Android more than iOS... doesn't mean I like the Chromebox Operating System As A Service idea. Don't confuse appreciation for one product with being a fan of the entire company. And yes Apple is the most controlling computer company on the planet.

  21. acbot
    Megaphone

    Are you people stupid

    or can't you read properly?

    The subscription model is to lease the hardware, the $300+ price tag is to buy the hardware.

    No this won't replace your desktop that you play WOW on all day but it might be of some use to people who just want to browse the internet.

  22. Bill Fresher

    Invention

    I've invented a new water bottle. It's lighter than other water bottles and the water is always fresh.

    To use it you simply attach the bottom to a tap. You can't use it unless it's attached to a tap, but there are taps all over the place so that won't be a problem.

  23. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    FAIL

    I've said it before and I'll say it again...

    My f'kin data lives on my f'kin device. I want to know where it is and who has access to it - i.e. me. Why I would rent a device from the admeister general that only works when I have network access I have no idea... at the very least, there are going to be a lot of unhappy business users who have to stop playing with spreadsheets when the plane takes off.

    A moment, that's the door...

    Yes, I understand. I am much happier now. I see that everything is all right in this best of all possible worlds. I for one welcome our consumer monetising overlords.

  24. Robert E A Harvey
    Thumb Down

    'ow much grgrgranville?

    I might have fallen for a fiver a month, wihthout calculating that to be 60 quid a year.

    But 28 x 12 of anyone's currency is too much for very little.

  25. Captain Mainwaring
    Pint

    Desktop market could be key

    A lot of the talk surrounding Chrome OS seems to be centred around the netbook/touchpad market, where new models seem to proliferate. There are millions of traditional desktop machines sitting around in offices, schools, homes etc, which only have basic, straightforward requirements. With more and more everyday functions being available via the web browser, there could be potentially a huge untapped market for a web only " Chromebox ."

    Key to all this of course would be initial pricing point. If this type of machine was available at a significantly lower cost than a traditional desktop, corporate and home users alike with only modest requirements might see this kind of set up as viable. If the Chromebox spec also included a HDMI output and remote keyboard, perhaps there would be new untapped market in the domestic sector as well. This does of course all depend on what faith one has in Google to safely retain their data and what Google might otherwise do with that data without the owner's knowledge!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Desktop market could be key

    Spot on, for the Gone Google Apps enterprise users.

  27. Adam T
    Thumb Up

    Ace Strategy

    So Acer's strategy for making up for losing money making netbooks few people want, is to make laptops few people want?

    Pure genius. Good luck to em!

  28. Frank 2
    FAIL

    Business & Students??

    Business & Students seem to be the main 2 groups of people who would actually need specific installed software in order to do their work.

    This makes sense for home use, but I guess the money is not there.

  29. Paul E

    50% of businesses still using windows XP

    Watch the whole session on youtube for more info that the article. The main appeal to companies for going to chromebooks is the same as migrating their mail etc to google. The cost and complexity of the IT support. 50% of US companies are still running XP, spending lots of time and money protecting their PC's from infection, managing backups, etc. Drastically reducing the cost and complexity of their IT support by moving to leased chromebooks where google handles most of the support could be seen as a good move. Also they are working with VM companies to support access to virtual machines so if for one or two tasks you do need a PC then you can connect to a virtual machine.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where can I find this?

    Where is Google talking about these supposedly free "hardware upgrades" ?

    You must be imagining things since what actually was said (according to Engadget) was:

    "It's also worth noting that Google considered shorter contracts (with higher monthly fees), but it found during market research that most institutions never upgraded their machines before three years, anyway. Given that data, it just made sense to offer lower monthly rates and on a refresh cycle that fit nicely with what they found."

    So don't be expecting a new machine before those three years are up. Unless you're prepared to pay for another three years of course.

    Good luck getting any money back on that 3 year old machine, pretty much certain any business will just send them off to recycling for £0 return.

    Can't any ACs get it right?

  31. Doug Glass
    Go

    True Story

    Circa 1960, I witnessed a woman buy a white, calcified dog turd because she was made to believe it was a fossil. Those were the days before high quality, low ash animal food.

    Some people will buy anything and some people will sell anything. Sheep are made to be fleeced and the object of the game is to recognize the sheep. After that, it's a done deal.

  32. jubtastic1

    Interesting

    How often does the hardware get replaced? What happens if it needs repair but it's a bit battered? Can you upgrade it yourself? Do they really think people are going to pay $28 a month for a *super* web browser? Where can I get some of what they're smoking?

  33. Oninoshiko
    Pint

    Did I miss something?

    did that say I have to pay about 400USD for a netbook, then a 24USD/mo to keep using it? If it where just the 24USD/mo. That was moderately appealing, but if i have to buy the thing, then rent it again.... I don't think so.

    It also depends on the terms of the contract. If it's just the 24/mo, and they are willing to replace it every time it fails... that's actually a pretty good deal.

    "oops, i overheated on my bed again. oops it was raining, again. oops the dog peed on it, again"

    Beer, oops...

  34. kain preacher

    EULA

    Any thing you do on this laptop is ours. Disabling the web cam so we can not spy on you is violation of the EULA.

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