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Laptop computers running on Google’s Chrome operating system will be hitting stores this summer posing a challenge to Microsoft’s Windows franchise.
The latest line of Chromebooks are a new generation of faster Intel microprocessors that don’t devour as much battery power. The machines will be shipped by major personal computer makers such as Lenovo Group, Acer, Dell, Asus and Toshiba and will sell for $300 to $400.
The latest move indicates Google’s attempt to create a compelling alternative to Windows-powered machines and Apple’s Mac computers.
Intel and all the PC makers embracing Chromebooks also are longtime Microsoft partners that helped make Windows so influential and lucrative during the past two decades.
But most of Microsoft’s longtime allies are looking for other avenues, especially after the drop in sales due to the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets.
Microsoft also alienated some PC makers by releasing its own tablet, Surface, that runs on Windows. Although Surface is still to become popular, Microsoft’s move into the tablet market demonstrated the software makers’ willingness to compete against its PC partners.
Google has been trying hard to drive out perceptions that Chromebooks are an inferior breed of PCs because they aren’t equipped with a hard drive to store data. In most instances, the Chromebooks require an internet connection to get to information and applications stored in large data centers run by Google or other technology providers. The machines have been upgraded with progressively faster chips, longer-lasting batteries and more online services to accommodate for the lack of a hard drive, since they were launched in 2010.
Google also has developed ways for Chromebook users to get work done and entertain themselves even when they are without internet access. The search giant has promised that the ability to watch movies and TV shows while offline will be included in a free update to the Chrome operating system that will available within the next few weeks.