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Aura UI looks a lot like Windows 8 Desktop, will deploy to all Chromebooks except CR-48

Even as Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) heads in bold new directions with its user interface (UI) in the Metro UI powered Windows 8, Google Inc. (GOOG) is looking (unofficially, of course) to the veteran software giant for inspiration.

Google's Chrome OS project has been more or less a flop.  While exact sales numbers are hard to come by, the project was only backed by two manufacturers -- specifically Acer Inc. (TPE:2353) and Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KS:005930).  Launching mid-summer in 2011, Chrome OS felt buggy and incomplete.  

While it came packaged in a number of nice netbooks, the built-around-the-browser concept was hampered by the inability to connect properly to token-authenticated networks commonly encountered at coffeehouses.  Coupled with poor publicity these issues led Acer to reportedly only sell 5,000 "Chromebooks" (Chrome OS notebooks) in 2011, according to Digitimes.
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But at CES 2012, Google seemed intent not to give up, working with Samsung to announce new models.

Now a bit more of its plans for a Chrome OS revital have come to light.  Google is freshening up the mobile PC operating system with a fresh taskabar-enabled user interface, complete with a positively Windows-like right hand notification area and pinned program icons in the lower left hand span of the taskbar.

Chrome OS v. Windows 8 Desktop
Chrome's Aura UI looks awfully similar to Windows 8 Desktop.
[Image Source: Google (bottom), Tinkertry (top)]

Like Windows 8's desktop, the new Google UI has a taskbar, but lacks any sort of "Start Menu" so to speak.  Really, Windows 8's desktop and the new Chrome OS UI, dubbed Aura UI, are spitting images of one another.  The only real visual difference is the lack of a shade back to the taskbar in Google's UI.  However, a Windows-like shaded backing to the taskbar is added when Browser Windows are active

Aura UI
Google goes Windows. [Image Source: Google]

Google brags that the new Windows-like interface offers "rich visuals, large-scale animated transitions and effects that can be produced only with the assistance of hardware acceleration" and should "provide the foundation of a flexible windowing system and shell for Chrome and ChromeOS on a variety of form factors."

Aura UI
The program icons are reminiscent of Android or iOS, but lack the cutting edge feel of Metro UI's LIVE Tiles. [Image Source: Google]

The update is currently in the Dev channel and should be rolled out to all Acer and Samsung Chromebooks in the wild shortly.  The early prototype CR-48 Chromebooks, which Google handed out to promote/test the platform, will not be eligible for the UI upgrade as they lack sufficient hardware to support it.  Google clarifies that, "They will continue to receive security and critical updates as necessary."

And it tells CR-48 owners to hang on, stating, "We’ll bring CR-48 devices back onto the release train after this release."


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Chrome has been less than successful because...
By Jeff7181 on 4/10/2012 1:10:26 PM , Rating: 5
Chrome has been less than successful because these "Chromebooks" are less capable as their Windows laptop/notebook counterparts, but cost almost the same.

If you're going to neuter a laptop, at least discount it.




By Alexvrb on 4/11/2012 4:10:50 AM , Rating: 2
The problem there is that volume is so low, that if they discount it significantly it wouldn't even be worth shipping. Regardless, you can take two devices with identical hardware, and throw Windows on one and ChromeOS on the other. What's holding the Chromebook back? The OS.

Google should have just released their own full-blown Linux distro. Toss in a custom/semi-custom UI, tighter integration to Chrome and Google Play, and call it a day. Not this lightweight crap.


By Wolfpup on 4/16/2012 3:18:48 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, from what I've seen they actually cost more than a real PC running real Windows 7 on BETTER AMD hardware. They'd be a rip off at $100 compared to what you can get running Windows.

Don't know if you guys saw what appeared to be shills for these things pop up everywhere right around launch just blathering on and on about how wondrous they were (despite them making virtually no sense for anyone), then mysteriously disappearing back into the woodwork.


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