Support for Google Drive cloud storage and offline support of Google Docs are among the touted new features in the latest version of Google's Chrome OS releasedubbed Chrome OS 20which the search company detailed in a July 12 blog post.
"The Google Chrome team is happy to announce the arrival of Chrome 20 to the Stable Channel for ChromeOS," wrote Google Chrome team member Danielle Drew in the post. "The Stable channel has been updated to 20.0.1322.54 (Platform version: 2268.105.0) for Chromebooks (Acer AC700, Samsung Series 5, Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550, and Samsung Chromebox Series 3, and Cr-48). Machines will be receiving updates to this version over the next several days."
Also included in the latest stable release are a firmware update for Chromebook Series 5 550, updates to Pepper Flash and crash fixes, according to Drew.
Chrome OS releases to the stable channel have been tested and approved by the Chrome testing team and are the versions that are recommended for use by Chromebook customers, according to the company. The ChromeOS releases are updated regularly by their open-source development teamsabout every two to three weeks for minor releases and every six weeks for major releases.
The Chrome OS project has been around since July 2009 when Google announced they had begun work on a lighter, browser-based operating system that was aimed at small portable devices such as netbooks or notebook computers. The consumer version of the product is Chrome OS, while the open-source development project where it is built is called Chromium OS, according to Google.
Since its introduction last year, Chrome OS has faced a lot of competition in the consumer marketplace from existing device operating systems such as Microsoft's Windows and Apple's iOS on devices, according to a May report in eWEEK.
"Googles Chrome operating system came on the scene last year with hopes of becoming something special in the marketplace," the story reported. "The platform is cloud-based, comes with a slimmed-down interface and, according to Google, can take advantage of the next big trends in the online world. Whats more, its running on a number of Chromebook models, which are designed to take on Windows-based PCs."
To help inspire greater adoption, Google has been announcing updates to the operating system that deliver a more traditional desktop user interface. The inclusion of Google Drive storage capabilities and the addition of offline support of Google Docs in the latest release bolster that trend.
The first Chromebooks on the market, from vendors Samsung and Acer, were unveiled in May 2011 at Google's I/O Conference.
eWEEK featured a recent review of the latest Chrome OS-equipped notebook computers, pointing out their dearth of applications and their then-limited abilities to work offline with Google Docs, which has been addressed in the latest Chrome OS version 20 release.
The new Samsung 5 550 Chromebook retails for $449.99 for the WiFi model and $549.99 for the 3G wireless model, while the Acer AC700 Chromebook starts at $299. The second-generation Samsung Chromebook comes in a slim, lightweight case and is built around an Intel Celeron 867 dual-core processor with a 16GB solid-state drive (SSD) and 4GB of RAM. The new Samsung Chromebox 3 comes with a 16GB SSD and 4GB of RAM, and an Intel Celeron B840 dual-core (1.9GHz) processor and can support up to a 30-inch monitor or use an HDTV using the Display Port output. The Chromebox supports Bluetooth and comes with six USB ports.