Google¶s Chrome OS to come for free, virtually

Our Bureau NEW DELHI

GOOGLE has launched a test version of the Chrome OS, its much-awaited and delayed internet-centric operating system that analysts say could make the personal computer cheaper by 25% in India. ³Chrome OS is essentially a free software,´ says Sundar Pichai, vice-president for product management at Google, and one of the two leaders of a team that developed the new software. An operating system makes up for roughly a fifth, and in many cases a fourth, of a PC¶s cost. For this reason, experts expect a fall in computer prices in 2011 because the Google OS is free. For example, a 22,000-PC shipped from an original equipment maker costs as much because it comes with an operating system priced at nearly 4,000. Likewise, a Microsoft Windows 7 Home Basic version costing 5,690 and the Windows 7 Ultimate at 11,190 add to PC prices. ³Google Chrome is bound to bring down PC costs, given that it will be open source and will not have associated licensing fees,´ said Pankaj Arora, managing director of Protiviti Consulting. The price factor apart, users of the Chrome OS computers can look forward to other benefits. For starters, they do not have to install the software. Rather, the PCs rely on applications delivered over the internet, making it easy for users to access files and applications from any machine. Chrome PCs also start up quickly, taking users to a browser within 10 seconds after booting. ³The Chrome is ideal for people who need to access or record information in their daily work, but are seldom at a desk with a PC and internet connection,´ says tech consultancy Ovum. Though aimed at netbooks, the lightweight Chrome can support desktops and laptops too because it runs on both X86 (Intel Pentium, Atom family) and the ARM chip systems. Besides Google has other features such as Docs for spreadsheets, presentations, word processors and Reader for PDF documents. Users can hook up with common accessories such as calculator and tabs for Facebook, YouTube and built-in security features via a browser. Google first announced Chrome OS in July 2009 along with plans to sell netbooks running the software from the second half of 2010. Tuesday¶s news conference in San Francisco at which the internet giant began distributing a limited number of PC models running the software does not mean that users are about to lay their hands on the Chrome OS. Google¶s inability to go beyond a test version means that customers are staring at a further delay. ³The Chrome OS will only be available to select users because the new devices running the software are being shipped by Google¶s partners such as Samsung and Acer for now,´ says Mr Pichai. Acer and Samsung devices are expected to hit the market in mid-2011. ³We are (also) working with multiple PC manufacturers to bring a number of netbooks to the market next year,´ he adds. In the meantime, ³technical people can download and install it easily after a bit of tweaking, though,´ says Mr Pichai. The company will hand out a few thousand laptops with Chrome OS for education and non-profit use. For Google, the Chrome OS presents an opportunity to take aim at Microsoft and Apple by

that rises to 98%. Dell. launched inSeptember 2008 as an alternativetoInternet Explorer.andsettingsare stored safely in the cloud. which has a 10% share in the Indian PC market.much simpler and fundamentally moresecure. ³Provided there is huge demand for Chrome OS in 2011. The Chrome initiative. applications and data will not be physicallystored on the computer but in a³cloud´. Google said. engineering. whojoined Google in2004. Still.Thedemonotebooks areWiFiand 3G-enabled.youcanjust log into another Chrome notebookandgetrightbacktowork. Google¶s Chrome operating system or OS.AcerandSamsung. vicepresident. AcomputerrunningChrome should boot up in 60 seconds and would not slowdownduring operation.said. and by building an operating system thatisessentially a browser. sinceusers¶ ³apps. it will be interesting to see if Google convinces manufacturers to move away from Microsoft and produce Chrome OS netbooks. led by Indian American Sundar Pichai. it offered no pricing information.´ Pichai and Linus Upson.´ said EricSchmidt.CEO. willmanufacturenotebooksrunningChrome. .was launched with a pilot programme featuring a12-inch unbranded laptop running the new OS. Besides. Pichai.hasalreadychallenged Microsoft¶s dominanceinthe market.Google. Pichai. ³Manypeople already spend all their time inaweb browser.wasalsothepersonresponsible forthebrowser. In fact. since the OS may come free. an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and the primary evangelist fo rChrome OS within Google.offering an alternative to their operating systems. ³Wefinallyhaveaviable third choiceforanoperating system. the notebooks forthe pilot programme do not featurea harddisk. is the only one officially announced by Google.wecanmakecomputersfaster.However. principal research analyst at Gartner. Microsoft¶s share in the global operating system market is more than 90%. In India.´ Google alsoopenedaChrome storeoffering apps in San FranciscoonTuesday. ³Weare delivering nothing but the Web. Acer and Lenovo are the largest PC sellers in India.which willbeavailable forsaleduringthe ³first half ofnextyear´. Google¶s other partner Samsung has less than 2% share in India. PC prices may fall by a couple of thousands. The Windows XP is the largest-used OS in India with a market share of about 70%. HP. thanks to the Windows OS. Google's vice-president for product management. In comparison. documents. Google said thatatleast two companies. wrote in an official post.Google. The partnership with Acer.´ In the newOSsystem. Google¶s Chrome browser. ³Partnerships of Microsoft with PC makers remain strong and demand for Chrome will depend upon its performance.´ Microsoft India had no comment on the impact of Chrome OS on the operating system market. was launched on Tuesday.´ says Vishal Tripathi. HCL. he says. evenifyou loseyourcomputer.afresh challenge to Microsoft¶s dominant Windows OS. the Windows and Mac OS. basically in an online environment.

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