Chrome OS slipped into the first half of next year as the search company kickstarts a pilot program where they’re giving away a custom-made 12-1-inch notebook specifically optimized for the cloud operating system.

It’s designed to "reach the web instantly," reads the newly launched Chrome notebook site:

Chrome notebooks are built and optimized for the web, where you already spend most of your computing time. So you get a faster, simpler and more secure experience without all the headaches of ordinary computers.

The machine won’t be sold in retail, however. Instead, Google will distribute a limited number of notebooks to qualifying individuals, developers, schools and businesses free of charge through a new pilot program, currently available only in the US. 

The program will expand to other countries once Google gets necessary certifications. The company’s goal with the Cr-48 is simple: They want people to test Chrome OS and other software thoroughly and get some valuable feedback.

If you were wondering about the name, Google named Cr-48 after an isotope of the element chromium – a geeky nod at Chrome OS. The black-clad machine weighs in at 3.8 pounds and lacks any branding, stickers, or logos. 

It lacks spinning disks, Google noted, and has no caps-lock key or function keys. There’s a dedicated full-screen button at the top of the keyboard that lets you focus on just one web app and remove all distractions. The notebook sports the following specs:

  • 12.1 inch screens
  • full-sized keyboard and touch pad
  • webcam for video chat
  • integrated 3G from Verizon
  • 802.11n WiFi
  • eight hours of battery life with eight days of standby time

The company says that setting up the machine takes "less than a minute." Boot time is under ten seconds, allowing folks to "reach the web instantly."

When you log in with your Google Account, Chrome OS loads all of your apps, bookmarks, and other settings and boots into the Chrome browser. There’s also the guest mode that lets you browse privately without signing in.

Originally planned for the end of this year, Chrome OS will instead launch in the first half of next year with Chrome notebooks from Acer and Samsung, with more vendors to follow at a later stage.

Source: Chrome notebook site