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Two years ago, one of the world's largest companies made a purchasing decision that was the computer world's equivalent of an earthquake: Airbus decided to move its entire 121,000-strong workforce from traditional Windows PCs to Chromebooks, the economical, stripped-down notebooks running on Google's Chrome operating system. Major brands such as Acer, Lenovo and Samsung have been building the machines for some time, largely targeting the education sector, with its need for low-cost, high-capacity devices. Airbus achieved 22% savings from the deployment, but that was only a secondary factor, said Paul Collins, South African country manager of Acer. "The major factor was collaboration. Not only internally, but also with suppliers and clients, using Google Hangouts for virtual meetings and sharing documents in real time." Now, Acer is taking the logical next step: building Chromebooks specifically for businesses. At its annual Next@Acer press conference in New York on Thursday, it unve...

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