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Google Chromebooks Out June 15

Google is ready to start commercializing its so-called Chromebooks and challenge the Microsoft monopoly

Roughly two years after it started working on an operating system based on its Chrome browser - and now late by its own timetable - Google is ready to start commercializing its so-called Chromebooks and challenge the Microsoft monopoly.

During those critical two years, however, Apple's iPad and Google's own copycat Android have drastically changed the market terrain so it's possible that the Chromebooks could experience rejection despite Google's claims that the web-based widgets, where everything is done in the cloud, are a "game changer."

Well, we shall soon see. Beginning June 15, Samsung- and Acer-made Chromebooks will be available to consumers at prices ranging from $329 to $499.

They will be sold in the US, UK, France, Germany, Holland, Italy and Spain.

Amazon.com and Best Buy online should have them. So too international retailers.

However - and more cleverly - they will also be rented to businesses starting at a capex- and opex-enhancing $28 a month - and to students for $20 a month. The Google Apps that go with them are priced separately at 50 bucks a head a year.

But when the widgets come to the end of their lifecycle or something goes wrong with the things, Google says it will simply replace them.

It's got a cloud management console to remotely administer and manage users, devices, applications and policies along with enterprise-level support and device warranties.

More interesting still is Google saying it's been working with Citrix and VMware so conventional software can be used on the dingus.

Google's research is supposed to show that most companies could move 75% of their people to a Chromebook, and it claims 50,000 companies applied for the Chromebook Cr-48 pilot last year. Of course, 50,000 is a drop in the proverbial bucket but now it's even promising to produce a retro "Chromebox" desktop that can be plug into any monitor to satisfy a reported demand from business.

Anyway, the 12.1-inch Samsung Chromebook will cost $429 for a Wi-Fi unit and $499 for Wi-Fi with 3G and service supplied by Verizon, which will kick in a free 100MB of storage a month for the 3G data.

Samsung claims an all-day battery, Acer 6.5-hour battery life in its 11.6-inch unit.

The widgets have been upped to a dual-core 1.66GHz Intel Atom chip with 16GB of solid-state memory and a nicer track ball than the pilot unit had.

Google says it will take all of three minutes to get the netbook up and running, and eight seconds anytime after that. Unlike the iPad, the widgets have Flash. Google also says they're protected by "many layers of security" so there's no anti-virus. Whether that means better than Google's Chinese-hacked central computers is anybody's guess. French security researchers connected with the firm Vupen have reportedly hacked the Chrome browser and have a film clip to prove it.

There's also supposed to be offline access to Google Docs, Google Calendar and Gmail by this summer and the immediate ability to play music and videos locally.

Google is only going to charge developers 5% of their list price for applications built for the widget and sold in the Chrome Web Store, a far cry from the 30% demanded by Apple, Amazon and Google Android. The purchases will be "in-app," as they say. The shop will launch in 41 languages and be available to all 160 million active Chrome users.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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