Chrome PC: Is it a netbook or a notebook?
Google gave the world its first look at PCs featuring its Chrome operating system on Tuesday. But amid all the hoopla over the slick, Web-browsing machines, we noticed that there appears to have made two subtle changes to the Chrome campaign.
The first involved what the new-fangled devices are actually called. When Google first announced plans to develop the Chrome PC operating system in July 2009, it said the first devices using the software would be netbooks, a genre of low-cost, miniaturized laptops that were all the rage at the time but have since lost their luster. (According to research firm Gartner, netbook shipments posted their first ever year-over-year decline in the third quarter)
Interestingly, the term netbook was never once uttered during Tuesday’s media briefing, with Google executives all referring to the forthcoming Chrome devices as “notebooks.”
We asked Google’s product management VP Sundar Pichai about the change in nomenclature.
“We used the word netbooks in the sense of connecting to the Net. But the industry uses netbooks differently,” Pichai said, noting that the netbooks category was typically associated with small, cramped keyboards and small screens.
While Google may have used the term netbooks in 2009, the company was always clear that its vision for Chrome devices were machines with full-sized keyboards, Pichai said. “We didn’t change plans. Day 1, the spec we had, we are still true to it.”
The other interesting change involves the time it takes to boot up a Chrome PC. At Google’s first Chrome media briefing in November 2009, executives said the devices would boot up in seven seconds or less, giving PC users an experience almost as quick as turning on a television.
But the boot-up time for the prototype Chrome notebooks becoming available is now actually 10 seconds, Google revealed on Tuesday.
Pichai told Reuters that the longer boot-up time is a result of new security procedures that Google decided to add, called verified boot, which he said inspects every component and piece of software of the PC for viruses and malware when it is switched on.
“We’re actually confident we can get it down,” he said of the 10-second boot-up time. “It is lower priority than what we worked on, like Instant Resume,” said Pichai.
He explained that the company had decided to focus more of its energy on speeding up the time to wake the PC up from standby mode – which occurs almost instantly on Chrome PCs — rather than on powering on a PC, “because we realize you resume your laptop about 100x as much as you power it.”
(By Alexei Oreskovic in San Francisco)