The devices, starting at just under $350 for the 11 inch Acer model and rising to nearly $500 for the 3G-capable Samsung offering, are to be sold on BestBuy.com and Amazon.com initially, while also being sold directly to businesses, educational systems and government for $28 a month for the former and $20 a month for the latter.
Google arrived at these announcements after rethinking the Web browser and the operating system itself, doing away with legacies of the past, Pichai explained.
"To deal with the Web on a browser, you have to deal with the legacy decisions of the last 30 years. Once you're inside, you have to make sure you manage your apps. Every single app has to be up to date," he said. "The experience is really complicated. We wanted to rethink the entire experience down to nothing but the Web. That's what Chrome OS is - an end to end experience."
Pichai's comments were echoed by Google cofounder Sergey Brin in a follow-on press briefing, where when asked if this was a direct attack on Windows, that there was nothing inherently wrong with Microsoft's offering but that "The complexity of managing your computers is torturing users, and it's a flawed model." This flawed model still is running XP at more than 50 percent of businesses today, it was reported, so this means there's not only a lot of opportunity for growth, but also significant challenge to make inroads at places that have often been reticent to change and conservative.
Consumers, besides the initial few of us who got our hands on the CR-48, will get their hands on Chromebooks (as they're now called) in just over a month. For the Web addicted, it could be a very compelling offering, one that both Apple and Microsoft have to watch closely and take very seriously.