It was just about a year and a half ago that Google started talking up plans for its Chrome OS. As I recall, a number of bloggers and reporters began tolling the death knell for Windows at that time, claiming Google's "operating-system-less" OS would trump Windows 7, Windows 8 and maybe even Mac OS X.
So where is it? In June 2009, Google officials said to expect Chrome OS to ship in the second half of 2010. In mid-November 2010, CEO Eric Schmidt said Chrome OS was still a few months away. Schmidt also said that Android should be considered the touch-centric OS, whereas Chrome OS is more suited for machines with keyboards. But that isn't stopping folks from pining for a Chrome OS tablet.
I had a chance to ask the Googlers about Chrome OS recently, and was told that a preview version of Google OS is still going to hit this year and be available in test form on several new form factors.
Bottom line: Google, like Microsoft, is not going to have a viable iPad competitor available in time for holiday 2010. Yes, I know about the HP Slate 500, the Dell Inspiron Duo and the LG E-Note H1000B. I think Microsoft officials would agree (privately, if not publicly) that these Windows 7 slates are not true iPad competitors because of their weight, battery-life longevity (or lack thereof), price, no app store -- or all of the above. I also realize there are Android tablets/slates out there, but the ZDNet blogging contingent seems to agree these devices aren't really ready for prime-time.... (Or, as ZDNet's Larry Dignan so delicately put it: "Android tablets are a big fail.")
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has said that once Intel delivers its Oak Trail processors, Microsoft and its partners will deliver Windows slates that can be considered iPad competitors. So maybe we'll see a Google OS vs. WinPad slate slug-fest by mid-2011? However, Apple probably will have delivered its lighter-weight iPad 2 by that time...And who knows what, if anything, will come of Microsoft's ServiceOS (the browser-centric Microsoft research project, formerly known as Gazelle.)
Should make for an interesting CES 2011 and beyond...