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Google, Samsung team up for new PCs

Chrome OS is a lightweight operating system designed for people who run most or all of their computing services in the internet cloud. If you use Google Docs instead of Microsoft Word for your word processing, and Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Contacts instead of Microsoft Outlook, you could then be a candidate for one of these two new machines.

It will go on sale in Best Buy stores in the US, as then as online, for $US449 for the Wi-Fi-only version, and $US549 for a version that incorporates 3G mobile broadband.

One of the main criticisms of the previous generations of Chromebooks was that they weren’t very good at doing stuff when they weren’t attached to the internet.

The latest version of Chrome OS

But Google promises it has fixed that issue with the latest version of Chrome OS, which will sport a version of Google Drive that supports offline file access, and a version of Google Documents that allows you to work on documents even when you’re not attached to the internet.

Windows 7 users who feel a little short-changed by the shift to Windows 8 in coming months will be able to upgrade for pocket change. Microsoft has set the price for a Windows 8 upgrade, and it’s only $US14.99.

Depending on currency fluctuations between now and the launch of Windows 8 in October*, that could cost you as little a five cups of coffee.

Windows 7 machine between now

If you’re buying a Windows 7 machine between now and October*, the chances are it won’t have a touch sensitive screen, and given that most of the enhancements to Windows 8 work best with a touch screen, Windows 8 will have limited, no, or possibly even negative appeal to many potential upgraders.

But there are a few things to Windows 8 that might convince a non-touch screen PC owner to shell out those $15. In the Windows 8 Release preview, the company greatly improved the software which drives touchpads, bringing it closer to the rich gesture-based, multi-touch experience that Mac owners have enjoyed for years. Multi-monitor support will be better in Windows 8 than in Windows 7, too: you’ll have more control over the location of the task bar, and will even be able to have a task bar on each monitor, with each one containing icons only for the applications that are displayed on that monitor.

The time it’s released in October*

By the time it’s released in October*, Windows 8 should as well use less disk space, take up less memory, and use less CPU power than Windows 7, all of which might matter a great deal to someone without a touch screen PC however with, say, a low-voltage Ultrabook which didn’t come with a lot of memory or a lot of hard disk space to begin with. For such people, $US14.99 might seem like a bargain in point of fact.

(*Microsoft has but to announce an official launch date for Windows 8, nevertheless in his blog the man in charge of Windows, Steven Sinofsky, wrote that Windows 8 would "enter the final phases of the Release To Manufacturing process in about two months". This would put Windows on course for that much-rumoured October release.)

More information: Afr