While we won’t see Chrome OS notebooks hit retail until next year, there are already about 60,000 laptops designed to run Chrome OS in the world today. That’s because Google plans to provide free Chrome OS laptops to about that many testers.
Google calls the laptop the Cr-48, and DigiTimes reports it was built by OEM Inventec. The laptop has already been shipped to Google, which means it shouldn’t be too long before the company starts sending out test units to those who have signed up for the beta.
The Cr-48 has a 12.1 inch display, 802.11n WiFi, 3G, an 8 hour battery, and a webcam, as well as flash storage. Google didn’t mention the processor in the announcement, but Sascha from Netbook News says his sources are saying the machine has a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N455 processor. It will reportedly be updated to a dual core Intel Atom N550 chip in the future… assuming Google continues to offer the Cr-48.
In related news, DigiTimes says Quanta Computer is building Acer’s upcoming Chrome OS netbook, and that model will have a 10.1 inch display and an Atom N550 chip.
While many folks have suggested that Chrome OS would be an ideal operating system for a dual-boot notebook, Engadget reports that Google won’t officially support notebooks that dual boot Chrome OS and Windows. That means the Cr-48 as well as upcoming machines from Samsung, Acer, and others will be designed only to run Chrome OS (although I suspect that users who really want to will figure out ways to install Windows, Linux, OS X, or any other OS designed to run on x86 chips).
I suppose there are at least two reasons for Google’s decision: First, the idea is to have a laptop which boots quickly and offer secure computing since little data is stored on the computer. Second, laptops will presumably ship with limited amounts of storage space, making it difficult to install and run most desktop operating systems.