Rumors have been swirling for days about the possible delivery of a beta version of Google’s much-discussed Chrome OS this week, as we noted last Friday. I pinged a few people at Google to get some clarity, and while they didn’t provide me with a specific answer as to whether the download will arrive this week, they did send me an invitation to a press event at Google’s Mountain View campus on Thursday morning, billed as “an update on our progress with Google Chrome OS.” In other words, it sounds like we’ll get to try it very soon.
According to the invitation, Google VP of Product Management Sundar Pichai will be speaking along with Matthew Papakipos, engineering director for Google Chrome OS. There will be demos shown and an overview of “launch plans for next year.” Chrome OS, of course, is squarely aimed at the netbook market, but it could head in other directions, too (Gigaom Pro, subscription req’d.).
That last bit about launch plans next year doesn’t rule out a beta arriving soon. When releasing an operating system, getting working drivers for peripheral devices, making deals with hardware makers and many more issues come into play, so if we do see a downloadable version arrive this week, it’s likely to be a very early stab at the final OS. However, Microsoft has proved resoundingly that by putting more early versions of its new OS in the hands of beta testers, it can deliver a better finished product. Perhaps Google will go that route as well, and it would be in keeping with their usual “long beta” strategy. We’ll update you with more details on Thursday.