While Microsoft is reportedly gearing up to offer us a taste of Windows 8 on tablets this June, Google is still scrambling to get its Chrome OS off the ground and into consumers' hands. The latest rumored launch date pins Q2 2011 as the prime target, possibly as early as June-- just in time to crash Microsoft's big Windows-8-on-a-tablet coming-out-of-the-closet party.
According to unnamed sources, Google is currently working on retail deals with manufacturers and suppliers. Three companies named to be testing the new OS on a factory level are Acer, Asus, and Samsung, two of which supposedly claim that Google's platform is an "optimized experience" for netbooks with both 3G and Wi-Fi options.
When Google's operating system eventually arrives, it will come in two flavors: Chrome OS and Chromium OS. The former is the closed, commercialized version that will only be available to manufacturers for their specific netbooks, notebooks or whatever else they choose to sell with the software installed. However, each device will come packed with a disc containing Chromium OS-- the open-source development version of Chrome OS-- for installing on any other machine.
Although no specific release dates have been given, Chrome OS devices are expected to cost somewhere between $250 and $600. But at this point, we have to wonder if Google waited too long in releasing Chrome OS for netbooks given that tablets are currently cannibalizing the netbook sector. Maybe Chrome OS will swoop in and save the day.
The first official signs of Chrome OS appeared back in December 2010 with the launch of Google's Cr-48 Chrome notebook pilot program. A limited number of applicants received a free Chrome OS-based notebook/netbook in return for user feedback. However Google has since halted shipments and revealed little else about its upcoming software since.