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11/19/2009
04:23 PM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
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Google Chrome OS Coming. Got A Netbook Strategy?

Some CIOs wonder whether netbooks are ultimately a consumer play. The answer is unquestionably no. In our recent InformationWeek Analytics Windows 7 survey of 1,414 business technology professionals, 36% of respondents said they already have some level of netbook use in their organizations today. This saturation is expected to grow to 72% of companies over the next 24 months, with 19% planning extensive deployments. I've been critical of Google for not paying enough att

The clock's running. Google expects Web-optimized netbooks running its OS to be on sale before the end of 2010. That gives you about a year to figure out how you want to handle employee use of this next generation of devices. No sense waiting.Google's targeting its Chrome OS at people who spend nearly all their computer time on the Web. The big selling point would be fast startup and quick online access. For IT teams, it'll mean one more form factor that employees are likely to bring in and want to use on the job.

There's a Webcast of Google teams describing Chrome OS in depth here. At the end of this press release, there's a 3-minute video where Google tries to explain Chrome OS in the simplest possible terms. (As in, "Stateless, which is kind of a big word …")

The Chrome OS, which is available as of now as open source code, is built with the singular goal of running Web apps fast and well. Google thinks most buyers will have another PC that this complements. "If you're a lawyer who's going to spend the entire day editing documents, ... this isn't for you," said Google VP Sundar Pichai, in the Webcast.

Google is working with hardware makers to design the machines, and it's being very particular about what it wants to see: smaller than standard laptop, but with a full-size keyboard and high-quality screen. It won't support disk drives, only solid-state flash drives, and will emphasize Wi-Fi Internet access using 802.11n.

Want someone on your team to start playing with Chrome OS? Google's developer site explains what current netbooks can run Chrome OS, and what changes are needed to make it work.

If you want resources on crafting a netbook strategy--or figuring out if you even need one--we have a free in-depth InformationWeek Analytics research report on Netbooks vs. Notebooks topic. It argues that CIOs can't ignore this category, since netbooks are so cheap and offer better Web performance than a smartphone. An excerpt:

Some CIOs wonder whether netbooks are ultimately a consumer play. The answer is unquestionably no. In our recent InformationWeek Analytics Windows 7 survey of 1,414 business technology professionals, 36% of respondents said they already have some level of netbook use in their organizations today. This saturation is expected to grow to 72% of companies over the next 24 months, with 19% planning extensive deployments.

I've been critical of Google for not paying enough attention to business needs. (See Will Google Miss Its Moment In Enterprise IT?). But in this case, I don't think Google needs to do much before business users will pick these up--if Chrome OS really can deliver nearly instant Web access. I regularly steal my wife's iPhone for this reason, wanting to do a fast fact check on the Web, or to check tomorrow's weather. Would I pay, say, $500 for a machine that could do that even better? I'd be sorely tempted, and I'm pretty darn cheap. And I'd be using it for work in a minute. (No word on pricing, actually, Google won't speculate on that.)

Share your thoughts on whether CIOs need to plan for netbooks, and what you think of Google's Chrome OS plans.

Some CIOs wonder whether netbooks are ultimately a consumer play. The answer is unquestionably no. In our recent InformationWeek Analytics Windows 7 survey of 1,414 business technology professionals, 36% of respondents said they already have some level of netbook use in their organizations today. This saturation is expected to grow to 72% of companies over the next 24 months, with 19% planning extensive deployments.

I've been critical of Google for not paying enough attention to business needs. (See Will Google Miss Its Moment In Enterprise IT?). But in this case, I don't think Google needs to do much before business users will pick these up--if Chrome OS really can deliver nearly instant Web access. I regularly steal my wife's iPhone for this reason, wanting to do a fast fact check on the Web, or to check tomorrow's weather. Would I pay, say, $500 for a machine that could do that even better? I'd be sorely tempted, and I'm pretty darn cheap. And I'd be using it for work in a minute. (No word on pricing, actually, Google won't speculate on that.)

Share your thoughts on whether CIOs need to plan for netbooks, and what you think of Google's Chrome OS plans.

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