A quick tour of Google Chrome OS

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Google peeled back some more layers on Chrome OS today, providing a sense of how the cloud-based operating system will work. The first Chrome OS notebooks won't be available until mid-2011, unless you can get into the pilot program for Google's own CR-42 netbook, so for now, here's a quick look at the OS itself.

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Signing In

Basically every aspect of Chrome OS is synced to the cloud, so users can pick up where they left off regardless of what computer they're on. When you want to let someone else use your computer without giving them access to your browsing history, there's a guest account that launches an incognito browser.

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Say Cheese

When starting a Chrome OS notebook for the first time, users are prompted to snap a picture of themselves with the Webcam. Sundar Pichai, Google's vice president of product management, said half of all users skipped this step in testing.

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Just Web Apps

Chrome OS does not allow you to download software. Instead, Google hopes to breed a critical mass of Web apps (which will appear on the user's home screen in lieu of software shortcuts) to the Chrome Web Store.

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Verizon and Google are Best Buds

For two years after purchase, Chrome OS users will get 100 MB of free wireless per month. Contract-free plans will be available with no activation or cancellation fees, but exact pricing is still unknown. Users can also buy day passes.

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Going Offline

To fight the sentiment that Chrome OS will be worthless without an Internet connection, Google claims that many apps from the Chrome Web Store will work offline. That includes news apps, such as the New York Times. Pictured here is the notification screen that pops up when you're about to load an app without the Internet.

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Apps in the Enterprise

Yup, it's Microsoft Excel running on Chrome OS, thanks to the Citrix Receiver app that offers desktop virtualisation in the cloud. Google really hopes Chrome OS will take off for enterprise users.

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The CR-48

Okay, here's one shot of the CR-48, Google's unbranded Chrome OS notebook, which features a 12.1-inch screen and built-in 3G. This notebook only being distributed through a pilot program, but Acer and Samsung will have the first Chrome OS notebooks for consumers in the middle of next year.

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