Google Says Chrome OS 'Not Done Yet,' Launches Pilot Program

Netbooks running Google's Chrome OS had been expected to hit store shelves this holiday season, but Google has now pushed back the Chrome OS launch timeframe until the first half of next year.

It's Google's first acknowledgement that the pace of Chrome OS hasn't been proceeding as planned, although the OS has reached a stage where developers can begin kicking the tires. "We’re not done yet, but Chrome OS is at the stage where we need feedback from real users," said Linus Upson, Google's vice president of engineering, and Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management in a Tuesday blog post.

Google is launching a pilot program in which qualified individuals, developers, schools, non-profits and businesses can obtain Google's prototype Cr-48 Chrome notebook in exchange for providing the company with detailed, ongoing feedback on the OS. Google is now taking sign-ups for the pilot, which will begin in the U.S. and then expand internationally once the company gets unspecified certifications.

The Cr-48 comes with a 12-inch LCD display, built-in Wi-Fi and 3G, solid state drive, full-size keyboard and a large touch pad. It's black in color with no branding of any kind, and is 3.8 pounds in weight and offers eight hours of battery life. Google also says the Cr-48 boots in 10 seconds and resumes from sleep "instantly."

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Google says Chrome OS notebooks will be available from Acer and Samsung in the first half of next year, with offerings from other manufacturers to follow. And because Chrome OS is built for a multitude of screen sizes and form factors, Google suggests that other, non-notebook products may also be in the offing.

Chrome OS is Google's interpretation of what an OS designed for the Web should entail, but the company is making some bold claims about the security of its as-yet-unreleased OS. "Even at this early stage, we feel there is no consumer or business operating system that is more secure," Upson and Pichai said in the blog post.

Google also officially opened Chrome Web Store, its application marketplace for Chrome OS, for customers in the U.S. and said it plans to expand it to "many countries and currencies" early next year.

The Chrome OS delay isn't surprising given that Google has previously said it's more concerned with getting Chrome OS working well on hardware than it is about flooding the market with products. That's a wise strategy for an OS market newcomer, but Google will eventually have to back up the many bold claims it has made for its OS.