Google-branded Chrome netbooks coming in weeks

Despite remarks to the contrary made by Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently, it looks like netbooks running the Chrome OS may be available within the next few weeks.

Schmidt told tech hacks at the Web 2.0 conference in San Fransisco recently that Google's open source Chrome operating system would be delayed "for the next few months", pushing the potential release of hardware using the Windows-baiting, cloud-based OS way beyond Christmas.

Earlier this week, Google reportedly told the New York Times that it would release a lightweight netbook computer running Chrome which would be made by a third-party manufacturer and carry Google branding in much the same way as the Nexus One smart phone.

Now the flames are being fanned by TechCrunch, which says that, although a full public distribution of the OS probably won't happen until early 2011, the company is currently 'dogfooding' its own devices as well as others from Lenovo and Dell.

To simplify things slightly, Chrome OS isn't an operating system in the truest sense of the definition. It's more a browser with benefits.

It has been designed to place as little strain on the hardware as possible, storing most of its doings in the 'cloud', making boot times really fast.

In deference to that spirit of speed, rumours gleaned from developer bug reports have it that two of the 'dogfood' machines currently being put through their paces have been named after a legendary racing driver and are currently codenamed 'Mario' and 'Andretti', although Nintendo might have something to say about the former if the names stick.

Although Andretti cut his teeth in Formula One, he eventually became something of a superstar on the US Indy Car circuit.

The current version of the Chrome OS is codenamed Indy.