Google establishes Chrome OS center in Taipei

The center will play a key role as Google expands its Chrome OS program

Google has established a software engineering center in Taipei to work with Asian laptop makers on computers running its Chrome OS, a Google executive said Tuesday.

The new center will play a crucial role in supporting laptop computer makers as Google attempts to get more companies behind its operating system project, said Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome at Google. He was speaking in Taipei at a news conference held alongside this week's Computex IT show.

Google's Chrome OS is a Linux-based operating system designed to run applications that reside online. The laptops are meant to be always connected, and automatically update themselves when new software becomes available. Small portions of user data and code, such as e-mail and games, can be used when the computer is not connected to the Internet, said Pichai.

The first two computers based on Chrome OS, developed by South Korea's Samsung and Taiwan's Acer, will go on sale later this month.

Google initially ran the Chrome OS program entirely from its headquarters in Mountain View, California, but soon realized that it would have to move much of the work of supporting laptop designers and manufacturers to Taiwan if it were to attract more partners to the project, Pichai said.

Taiwan is home to many of the world's top laptop designers and manufacturers. Companies like Foxconn, Quanta and Compal design and make laptops under contract for better-known PC makers, which resell them under their own brand names.

"We've already recruited many engineers and we're looking forward to hiring many more engineers over the course of next year to ramp up this effort in Taiwan," said Pichai.

But Pichai wouldn't be drawn on when more Chrome OS machines will be available, or from what vendors.

"We've had tremendous interest in the program," he said. "There are other manufacturers that have asked to join the program and we are humbled by it, but we want to be focused on quality and making sure the users who buy these devices have a great experience. That's our focus now, and as we get past that point we will scale the program up."

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