Google Unveils $149 Chromebooks in Challenge to Microsoft

Google Inc. unveiled $149 laptops, challenging Microsoft Corp. in the market for the lowest-priced computers.

The new Chromebooks, the least-expensive ones yet, feature “all-day” battery life and are available online for pre-order, Google said Tuesday in a blog post. A version made by Haier Electronics Group Co. is available through Inc. A model from Hisense Electric Co. is being sold through Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s website.

Google is pushing low-end laptops as it looks for new ways to draw people to its Chrome operating system from Microsoft’s Windows. The Google laptops, which don’t have hard drives, rely on the Internet for typical tools such as e-mail, document storage, word processing and spreadsheet creation.

“Chromebooks have made computers faster, simpler, and more secure, while eliminating everyday hassles like waiting for your computer to boot up, having to constantly charge it, and remembering to install software updates,” the Mountain View, California-based company said on its site.

Google also said Asustek Computer Inc. this summer will release a small plug-in device, the Chromebit, that can turn a television or other display into a computer.

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