Chromebooks -- laptops that run on Google's Chrome OS -- are a growing part of the global PC market. The devices have consumed a large part of the education market in the past few years and have steadily pushed into the business world. Dell announced Monday the world's first Chromebook Enterprise two-in-one and laptop to help solidify Chrome OS' business presence.
The two devices are designed to satisfy the IT execs faced with a new world that demands choice, said Brett Hansen, VP of Dell client software and general manager data security. "They want to be able to choose environments that make the most sense for either my organization, my department or even an individual." Within that construct, Dell started conversations with Google about Chrome.
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Google had been talking with many businesses that wanted their workforce both using the cloud and a modern operating system, said Eve Phillips, Google's group product manager for Chrome OS Commercial. "Things get lost, they're not secure, real laptops get left places, for all of these reasons -- for end users and IT -- there are tons of benefits" for moving to a cloud-based OS.
"At the same time," Phillips added, "organizations also want to take advantage of what the cloud offers without throwing away everything they've got."
Chromebook Enterprise aims to solve this from a software perspective with both Chrome OS and the enterprise features it enables, as well as combining it with the hardware, support and sale infrastructure from Dell. "It's bringing all of the pieces together that organizations have grown to expect along with the modern OS of Chrome devices," Phillips said.
Dell and Google have been working on the extensive joint effort for close to two years. "To really get the benefits of both companies, there were things we had to do differently," Phillips said. Those included integrating the security of verified boot and Google's boot security chip into the hardware as well as enabling all of Dell's support infrastructure.
For Dell's part, in addition to its hardware and support, the company is making broader adoption easier. "Right out of the gate we're going to sell this in 50 countries and we'll have 10 different keyboard languages," Hansen said. And then there are the two devices themselves -- a traditional clamshell and a two-in-one -- which are designed as mainstream devices developed for a larger workforce.
Built for durability, they're made from carbon fiber and can be easily serviced by an IT department. They're also highly configurable with everything from a Celeron up to eighth-generation Intel Core processors, up to 32GB of DDR4 memory and enterprise-class PCIe NVMe SSD drives up to 1TB. The 14-inch Latitude 5400's battery can last up to 20 hours, while the 13-inch Latitude 5300 two-in-one can go for up to 14 hours, depending on configuration and tasks.
Other benefits include unified endpoint management with VMware's Workspace One, a revamped Google Admin panel with significantly faster load times and the option to enable managed Linux environments on Chromebooks.
The Latitude 5400 price will start at $699 and the Latitude 5300 starts at $819. Both are available on Aug. 27.
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Correction, 2 p.m. PT: Corrected the number of keyboard languages.