Google today opened the Chrome Web Store in the US, with plans to expand to more countries and currencies early next year. Developers have already started uploading Flash and HTML5 apps and the store will soon be featured prominently in the Chrome browser. The store is already supported by Chrome 8, which was released earlier last week.

The apps from the store are going to be a large part of the Chrome OS, and of course Google has shared more information on its new mobile operating system. Chrome OS is not done yet, but the search giant believes it is ready for feedback from users. The company has thus launched a pilot program where it gives test notebooks to qualified users, developers, schools, and businesses. The program is US-only until Google gets the necessary certifications to expand to other countries. You can sign up for it here.

"The test notebooks exist only to test the software---they are black, have no branding, no logos, no stickers, nothing," a Google spokesperson said in a statement. "They do have 12.1 inch screens, full-sized keyboards and touch pads, integrated 3G from Verizon, eight hours of battery life and eight days of standby time. Chrome notebooks are designed to reach the web instantly, are easy to share among friends and family, and simply by logging in, all of your apps, bookmarks and other browser settings are there. Setting up a new machine takes less than a minute. And even at this early stage, we feel there is no consumer or business operating system that is more secure."

As expected, Chrome notebooks will be available from Acer and Samsung in the first half of 2011. The main philosophy behind Chrome OS, which differentiates itself from Android by targeting devices with physical keyboards, is that many people already spend all their time in a browser, and that building an OS that is essentially a browser will make computers faster, simpler, and more secure.