In short, Google is seriously upping the ante in its challenge to Microsoft in the workplace. It's already making inroads with its Google Docs cloud-based productivity apps, but now it has dramatically sweetened its offer to provide the OS and even the hardware, too. At this price, Google's offer could be a very attractive to many businesses.
A similar offer is being extended to education, but the price per month per user for schools is only $20.
Improvements to OS
The biggest problem with the Chrome OS to date is that it's been so completely about the web that you really miss being able to do things like download and install apps or play music or video content on the local hard drive. You just couldn't do that in the first iteration of Chrome OS.
Knowing this Google appears to have made some real-world concessions in response to the problem. It has added a file manager, where you can store music and video files you've downloaded. There's also a new media player in the OS that you can use to play the content. This alone makes me want to give Chrome OS another chance.
Google says the OS will stream content from Hulu and Netflix and the new media manager will plug into the new Google Music Beta and Google Movies services. The OS handles photos better now too. Users can now plug in a camera to the Chrome Book, move photos from the camera, then store them in the cloud.
Chrome Browser Improvements
The day wasn't all about the Chrome Book. Google announced today several cool new HTML5 tricks for its Chrome browser. Google has been a strong proponent of HTML5, which it says developers can use to develop one version of a Website or service that will have advanced capabilities, and most importantly, work on "all modern browsers."
Google has built some impressive APIs for the Chrome browser that will help developers create cool web pages faster. For instance, developers can use a Google API to build voice recognition into their apps. Google says it has also improved the hardware acceleration of its browser, which revs up the graphics card in the PC to render highly dense, colorful animated graphics.
Chrome Web Store
Google also made several announcements about its Web App Store, where Chrome users can grab apps to run in the Chrome browser. Google says that people spend twice as much time in Chrome apps compared with apps on other platforms, and make two and a half times more purchases within the apps.