HP has become the fourth company to turn to Google's Chrome OS operating system.
Consumers in the market for an affordable yet reliable notebook that offers incredible battey life, strong virus protection and super-fast boot-up speeds can now choose from a Chromebook from four different companies. The newest edition to the lineup, the HP Pavilion Chromebook, will offer a 14-inch display, 2GB of RAM and a mere 16GB of solid state hard-disk storage, and will weigh just 2kg. Interest in Chromebooks has been slowly building since Google teamed up with Samsung to launch the original notebook that ran the operating system in 2011. Samsung now builds two different Chromebooks, the cheapest of which costs a mere $200. Acer also makes a similarly priced 11-inch Chromebook, and Lenovo has just announced that it is also testing the water with a notebook aimed at teachers and students.
What makes the proposition so appealing for brands is that Chrome OS is cloud-based. The browser is essentially an extension of the operating system and users log on to the internet to access the software and applications that would traditionally be stored on the computer's hard drive. And, because all of the heavy processing and computing work is done in the cloud, the notebooks are surprisingly fast and responsive and can boot up in less than 10 seconds. What's more, because it is a web OS, the risk of virus or malware infection is practically non-existent. So is the issue of software updates as nothing is stored on the device itself.
For PC manufacturers, Chromebooks remove Microsoft from the loop. With entry-level PCs and notebooks, the biggest production cost is the price of the licenses - for the Windows operating system and for Office. Dropping Microsoft also means that PC makers can ship devices with less powerful (and therefore cheaper) processors, less RAM and smaller hard drives.
The idea seems to be taking hold with consumers too. Chromebook sales already account for between 5-10 percent of Acer's US PC shipments and, as more PC manufacturers turn to the operating system as a way of protecting themselves from the increasing competition from tablets, the numbers are expected to grow.