Google and Samsung recently launched the Chromebook – a webcentric, cloud-based, low-priced netbook powered with the Chrome OS that allows users to work offline with Google Docs, Gmail and other Google apps, removing the need to be connected all the time to access files and mail.
Unlike most computers, Google’s Chromebooks don’t have a hard drive. They function like terminals dependent on an Internet connection. The laptops come with 16 gigabytes of flash memory — the kind found in smartphones, tablet computers and some iPods. Two USB ports allow external hard drives and other devices to be plugged into the machines, AP reported.
Two new models were released by Samsung in selected markets this week – the Series 5 550 Chromebook notebook with a 12.1-inch display that has support for WiFi and 3G connectivity. The latest gen Chromebook is also capable of remote access to Macintosh and Windows PC computers, has more storage, boots faster and will soon be integrated with Google Drive for storing a wide variety of file formats (such as Word docs and PDF files) and photos. With the Google Drive cloud storage and sync bolstering the Chromebook in the coming months, analysts consider this new laptop to be more viable.
Since its debut last year, Chromebooks haven’t made much of a dent in the market but according to Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Gartner Inc. the Chromebook will be more viable now than they were last year. “Google has made the Chromebook a lot more usable from a consumer standpoint. It becomes much closer to something that could be used by the mass market. In a world that’s being driven by personal cloud services, these become great devices. For a certain user scenario and for certain business cases, this will be a viable choice.”
According to Google, the new Chromebook boots up in a less than seven seconds, loads web pages much faster, and gives users the choice of thousands of apps at its Chrome Web store. The new models are nearly three times as fast as the first-generation Chromebooks, has support for hardware-accelerated graphics, a built-from-scratch multi-touch trackpad and an open-source firmware stack provide a much faster and more responsive computing experience.
The device automatically receives new updates to the Chrome software every six weeks, eliminating the need to manually install updates, security fixes and other patches. Since last year, there have been eight updates in the Chromebook OS.
“Chromebooks is more of a service rather than hardware,” said Caesar Sengupta, director of Chrome OS. “When you’re buying into the Chrome OS, you’re buying into a service.”
Last year, Google released the developer-only version of the Chromebook, the black CR-48, that has a slow processor and an unusable trackpad. Consumer-ready Chromebooks already in the market include Samsung’s Series 5 and Acer’s AC700, both capable laptops but with passable keyboards, dim screens, and clunky trackpads.
Windows 8 release preview
The release preview of the upcoming Windows 8 operating system by Microsoft is now available for download.
Microsoft’s most tested operating system has tens of thousands of improvements, the most notable of which is the redesign of the interface. Windows 8 is due for release in October, three years after the release of Windows 7.
Unlike Windows 7, which was intended to be a more focused, incremental upgrade to the Windows line, Windows 8 has been “reimagined from the chipset to the user experience” to connect more with the user.
According to PCmag, the top new features of the Windows 8 are the following: 1.New Apps: Aside fromt he basic apps, New Microsoft apps in Release Preview include Sports, Travel, and News, all three of which make good use of photos and information from Bing; 2.New App capabilities: The new and updated apps make use of several Windows Metro interface features. Apps can now be pinned to the Start Screen; 3.Updated Windows Store: Windows 8 is starting to take hold in the developer community particularly among major software houses; 4. Flash in the Metro Web browser and 5. Multi-Monitor Support.
The new operating system is designed to bring Windows into the touchscreen, smartphone era.
The latest version of Microsoft’s browser Internet Explorer 10, optimised for touchscreen, is also included in the Windows 8 for the first time. IE 10 will be the first version of the browser with “do not track” turned on by default, meaning users can easily decide not to accept cookies.
Techradar.com and Engadget posted an initial reviews of the Windows 8 almost-final release preview.
Facebook smartphone ‘Buffy’
Right now nothing is confirmed but the buzz online is that Facebook is building its own smartphone that is due for release next year. The social networking giant reportedly hired software and hardware engineers and had a group to work with Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC to create a smartphone codenamed ‘Buffy.’
The news came out as search engine giant Google completed the acquisition of Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion earlier this week.
Facebook said in an official statement, “Our mobile strategy is simple: we think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social.” “We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers and application developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world.”
But a Facebook employee told New York Tmes that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerber “is worried that if he doesn’t create a mobile phone in the near future that Facebook will simply become an app on other mobile platforms.”
A few weeks after the controversial initial public offering, 28-year old billionaire Zuckerberg’s fortune reduced by $4-billion, dropping him off the list of the top 40 billionaires measured by Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Before the IPO, Facebook shares were priced at $38 and Zuckerberg’s fortune stood at $18.95 billion. The company hit new lows this week, coming close to $28, $10 below the IPO price and valuing Zuckerberg at close to $14.75 billion.
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