The beta versions of ChromeOS have been out for some time. I’ve personally run some of the builds and it’s coming along nicely. I haven’t had any hands-on with actual hardware, but I’ve used enough Samsung and Acer portable hardware to know it will be done properly.
So then it’s no shock to hear back from the May 10-11th Google IO developer conference that the last developer channel build of ChromeOS (R12) is going to be the shipping version of the OS for the ChromeBook next month (June 15th).
As the deadline approaches Google’s engineers are working on wringing out every last bit of UI polish and tweaks. On top of the fluff there’s apparently been progress made on battery life, touchpad functionality, and a much improved file browsing implementation with external VPN storage support.
Reports from testers are resoundingly positive and recent tweaks to WiFi/3G activation and setup are making the device trouble-free straight out of the box for novice users. Trouble free setup is great since the ‘less than 8 seconds’ boot time wouldn’t even give a speed reader enough time to so much as glance at an instruction manual.
In fact, with the improved Google Talk plug-ins, the ChromeBook is clearly shaping up to be more of a communications device than originally expected. An activated ChromeBook could be shipped to a branch office and would make an excellent easy-to-use conference tool for a very minimal investment.
The icing on the cake is the purchase price; Early word is that it’s monthly, around $35, and includes the internet subscription fees. Since the ChromeBook keeps everything in the cloud, you can exchange them just like cell phones, and you’ll never be stuck backing up/wiping/restoring user data.
June 15th will be a great day for businesses and individuals looking for a low cost solution to staying connected without all the hassle.