Google (s goog) continues to pursue its ambitious Chrome agenda, confirming it will release a beta version of the Chrome browser for Mac in the next few weeks and reportedly preparing to make the OS available via download within days. The question for on-the-go tech geeks, though, is what kind of devices we’ll see for the downloadable OS, and when.
Google has said it’s working on Chrome OS with a host of hardware vendors including Acer, Hewlett-Packard (s hpq), Lenovo, Qualcomm (s qcom), Texas Instruments (s txn) and Toshiba. And as James noted several weeks ago (GigaOM Pro, subscription req.), the platform is being developed specifically for the netbook segment, leveraging a bare-bones interface optimized for performance — not frills. Google said earlier this year that netbooks running the OS wouldn’t be available until the second half of 2010, but that it would open source the code for download by the end of 2009.
Despite all the hype surrounding Chrome — and the heavy-hitters teaming with Google on the project — the OS is likely to make a quiet debut and be targeted at a small number of devices. But Acer and Lenovo are rumored to be preparing to launch Chrome OS devices, Nvidia is working on Chrome OS Tegra devices, and as TechCrunch suggested, Eee PC netbooks could be endorsed by Google as Chrome-ready. If the Chrome OS’ debut comes off without a hitch, there’s a chance we could even see some hardware support for it in time for the holidays.