Google’s News: E-Books and Android and Chrome, Oh My

12/7/10Follow @wroush

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hackers who prey on consumers with outdated software. The machines will also automatically encrypt all user data, and will boot up using data stored in a “verified boot” section of the hardware that can’t be accessed by any application.

Businesses are already interested in Chrome notebooks, since the idea of a cloud-connected operating system overlaps well with existing efforts to convert formerly PC-centric applications to Software as a Service applications running on private clouds. Representatives from Citrix, the Florida-based virtualization company, were on hand at the Google event to say that they’re already working with Google to make Citrix’s own enterprise app store, Citrix Receiver, work with Chrome OS.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt made a brief appearance at the end of today’s press event and attempted to put the Chrome OS project into historical perspective. “This is not a new concept,” he said. “There are very few new ideas in computer science.” He said programmers and engineers have been dreaming of true network computers at least since the 1980s, and acknowledged that companies like Oracle and Sun had made big claims about network computing during the dot-com years.

“Why should you believe us now?” Schmidt asked rhetorically. “We were right then and we were wrong then. We were right about the underlying problems—the complexity and cost [of PCs]. We were wrong in underestimating how complex and subtle the problems were….and we couldn’t build great apps on the Web technology of the time.” It took a long string of achievements across the computing and software industry—such as the development of Java, Javascript, AJAX, the LAMP stack, and HTML5, not to mention a thousand-fold improvement in CPU speed and memory capacity since the 1990s—to make Chrome OS possible, Schmidt said.

“Think of this as a journey,” Schmidt concluded. “My hope is that when you play with [Chrome OS] and use it every day you’ll realize that it does, in fact, work. There is every reason to believe this is the right time to build these products.”

The Chrome Web App Store. Most people will have to wait until well into 2011 to try out Chrome OS, but today Google launched one big component of the Chrome universe, the Chrome Web Store. As the name implies, it’s a website where users can download hundreds of free and paid browser extensions that are built to provide app-like experiences within the Chrome browser. The store went live today and the apps work on any computer that can run Chrome. But ultimately such apps will become the heart and soul of Chrome OS, and the Chrome Web Store will become the Chrome universe’s central clearinghouse for consumer apps.

At today’s press event Google hosted representatives from The New York Times, EA, and Amazon who demonstrated versions of their Chrome extensions. The New York Times app is a powerful news browser that gives users a variety of ways to view Times content, either online or offline. EA showed off a Chrome version of its popular Poppit casual Web game, which, from the looks of it, has better graphics and faster performance than … Next Page »

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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