I’ve been using Chromebooks since they first launched, starting with the CR-48 prototype back in 2010. Over, and even before, that time, I’ve used Linux, Mac, and PCs. I still do. But for the majority of my computing these days, I use a Chromebook. And when I report on some of the premium Chromebooks that cost as much as a decent Mac or PC, I routinely hear the question: “Why spend that much when you can get a Mac or PC for the same price and do so much more?” It’s a great question. Here’s my answer to why I use a Chromebook and ChromeOS.
ChromeOS is built on Linux and Linux is zippy
So we’ve been hearing “This will be the year of the Linux desktop” every year for at least a decade. Maybe two. But we keep saying it because Windows owns the lion’s share of desktop computing while MacOS has a smaller but passionate base. And then we have the many flavors, or distros, of Linux.
Yet there have been quarterly periods where Chromebooks have outsold Macs. And ChromeOS is arguably a Linux desktop platform.
Maybe not in the traditional sense. But it runs the Linux kernel and has a graphical user interface along with excellent support for various hardware. It’s possibly the simplest “Linux desktop” to use: Built with the browser as your main interface and a few native utilities such as Files, Gallery, and the Launcher.
Again, this point is arguable by the Linux purists and it’s a valid point.
What matters more to me is that Linux is generally one of the fastest, and most stable, operating systems around. It can be configured to be as lean as you need so it runs quickly on minimal hardware. Or you can go hog wild and install tons of apps, packages, and utilities on a computer that costs thousands of dollars due to high-end hardware.
Put another way: I’ve owned two laptops that were from the same brand and had the exact same hardware. Remember the HP Stream / HP Chromebook 11?
This was a laptop design repurposed to launch with one of two operating systems. One came with Windows and one came with ChromeOS. The overall experience was much snappier on the Chromebook version as compared to Windows.
I’ve often said that “ChromeOS is a lighter platform than Windows” and this is exactly what I mean. And I don’t think I’m wrong even though I get pushback from some. In fact, a recent video presentation about the Windows Subsystem for Linux by Microsoft’s Scott Hanselman effectively verifies my observation, saying
“Processes in Windows have historically been heavy… Linux processes don’t think about windowing… forking (splitting off a new process) is like 10X; it’s an order of magnitude slower [than on Linux.]”
I get that Microsoft has to keep thousands of apps, processes, and services in its software for backward compatibility reasons. But I don’t need those for what I do, nor do I want them. I want a speedy system so I use a Chromebook, which is based on Linux.
I don’t need to “do more” on a Chromebook
This gets me to my second point. Yes, it’s a valid criticism of Chromebooks that they can’t do as much as a Mac or PC. I can’t install traditional desktop apps, although I can (and do) install Linux desktop apps. I can’t yet game natively, although that’s going to change in the near future. But, I wouldn’t game on a Mac either. PC gaming isn’t a core competency on the Mac platform.
I’ve owned many game consoles going back to 1982 and these days, I have a custom build Windows PC for an optimal gaming experience. And I have a Steam Deck reservation for playing my PC games on the go.
It doesn’t matter to me that I can’t play every single game on my Chromebook. I have streamed games with Nvidia’s GeForce Now every now and again but that’s mainly because I don’t feel like being bound to my home office where the gaming rig is. So I don’t “need” to game on my Chromebook.
What about video editing?
I got out of the YouTube game years ago, so I don’t need this functionality. For the rare personal use videos I create, I do what millions of people do: I use my phone. Yes, ChromeOS is gaining a video editing and movie-making feature in the next few months. I’ll test it but I don’t “need” it.
I can’t natively use Microsoft Word on my Chromebook, nor can I create iOS apps. Guess what: I don’t do those things. I use an iPhone so I can’t get my text or Messages on a Chromebook. But my phone is always with me so I’m covered.
I could list hundreds of other apps I can’t run on a Chromebook that I could on a Mac or a PC. It doesn’t matter to me. I don’t need those apps. On the off-chance there’s some modern app I need, I can always look for an Android version to see if it cuts the mustard.
Are there limitations on a Chromebook? Sure! Do those limitations apply to my workflow? Nope. They may apply to your personal workflow and for that reason, I never suggest that everyone can or should use a Chromebook full time.
But me? Simply put, I use a Chromebook because it can do what I need it to do. It’s the same reason I don’t own a truck or an SUV. I don’t need to haul things or go off-road, so I have a car. The car is limited compared to the truck but… so what if I’ll never use the unique features of the truck?
ChromeOS and Chromebooks have evolved relatively fast
Windows has been around in some shape or form since 1985 and I’ve used it since 1990 with Windows 3.0. Prior to that, I used DOS and Commodore BASIC 2.0.
MacOS is built around NeXTStep from 1985 and has evolved since then. I started using macOS when Apple shifted to Intel processors in 2006. I also ran Windows on that machine, using Apple’s BootCamp utility. Long story short, Macs and PCs have been evolving for nearly four decades. ChromeOS only turned 10 years old in 2019. It’s a relative toddler in terms of operating systems.
And yet, look how far ChromeOS and Chromebooks have come from that CR-48 prototype!
We went from low-cost, low-powered repurposed netbooks (the main reason people incorrectly assume Chromebooks are supposed to be inexpensive) to premium, high-end, cutting-edge hardware. And there are devices everywhere in between those two extremes. I can choose an inexpensive Chromebook for basic everyday use and not worry if the device is run over by a bus. Or I can soup up a new configuration with maximum internals for heavy-duty programming projects or Computer Science classes.
Thanks to the evolution of ChromeOS with new features every four weeks, combined with a march towards supporting the widest possible range of hardware, I can get a capable Chromebook at any price. The pace of software updates with additional features is another reason I use a Chromebook.
Have there been times over the last decade where I had to turn to a Mac or a PC over a Chromebook? Absolutely!
Without the addition of Linux on Chromebooks a few years back, I never could have effectively taken 8 CS classes at a local community college using a Chromebook. There were times when a current ChromeOS feature wasn’t available on a Chromebook. So it was a Windows Surface or a MacBook Air that better meet my needs at certain times. That’s much less the case now.
Figure out what you need to do and buy the best tool for those tasks
This gets me back to the thought that Chromebooks aren’t for everyone. That’s OK, and better yet, it doesn’t impact my choice of computer. I think long and hard about what tasks I need to accomplish on a computer. I then research what device and/or operating system will let me accomplish those tasks as quickly and simply as possible.
For me, today, that’s a Chromebook. For you, it could be a PC, a Mac, a Linux machine, or even a Raspberry Pi. And that’s OK! Buy the best computing tool for your tasks and be happy.
That’s what I did and it’s why I use a Chromebook.
54 thoughts on “Why I use a Chromebook”
Here’s a question for Linux nuts. Linux proper desktop has 2% market share and most of that is free of charge to users. What would Linux market share be if they charged what Microsoft or apple charge? To say Linux Desktop pre Chrome OS has been a failure is the biggest understatement ever made. They can barely give it away.
I like Chrome OS because it is secure, simple, snappy enough and low maintenance.
Windows & Linux are for people who need lots of tools. But that’s a minority even the Linux creator says he only really needs a browser when not programming.
Windows and Linux are just too high maintenance and stop you being productive. Even if you need all those tools you’ll find most of the time OS maintenance or unnecessary ease of use practice i.e having to use a command line will stop you being hugely productive.
Other OS are for business or people who like wasting their weekends in a command prompt or doing updates.
Chrome OS is the first Consumer OS. I just want to get stuff done. I don’t care about reinventing the wheel like the Linux nuts do. They will go round in circles forever debating stuff no grown up person should care about.
I’m thankful for Linux for allowing Chrome OS, but most Linux fans didn’t create Linux, most of them would have still been debating how Linux would work rather than actually creating it. They enjoy computers for the sake of computers, not for the sake of getting stuff done. The Linux creator got stuff done then the religious nuts came along and took over the Linux PR.
Windows allows stuff to get done but is insecure, expensive and high maintenance, not so easy to use. If they could solve those things there would have never been a need for Chrome OS. We could all just boot Windows, open Chrome and not care about what OS we are using.
Like a majority of computer owners, I use my computers mostly for word processing. Since publishers like Microsoft Word, this is what I use. Yes, there are other apps that I use but dull old word processing comes first for me. I own a Chromebook but my MAC Air seems simpler. Is there any reason why II should turn to my Chromebook?
If you want or need to use Microsoft Word, by all means you should be using the MacBook Air! Like I said in the article, choose the best tool for the tasks. 🤓
You can easily do everything you can do in Microsoft Word using Google documents. If a publisher needs a PDF or a docx file, just choose file to download and choose the format you want to download. No one “needs” Microsoft Word.
Unless you have a job.
Great post and perspective. So many chromebook reviews and commentary come from people who do video and tech site postings that require top level video and audio editing capabilities. Hence the constant refrain about these limitations on chromebooks. Refreshing to read something from a different, and perhaps more common, perspective.
I use a chromebook almost exclusively now. I get the pointy-clicky stuff – web content and so on, but then I do work. It’s the debian linux; I can code and compile or cross-compile (it’s intel, I have arm6 and arm7 machines in the gaggle) or use all the kit needed to login remotely.
All of this is (almost) completely in my control, and secure (not dev mode)
And if I get fed up with vim, I can flip it over, use it as a pad and watch a movie.
I use a Chromebook (Asus C536E) with both Ubuntu Linux under crouton (preferred) and Crostini Linux (ugh). I don’t use Windows (or Windoze) unless I have to because, well, Microsoft. I don’t use Macs unless I have to because, well, Apple. I have been using computers since 1980 (a TRS-80 Model III), so I have pretty much experienced the entire gamut.
Windows updates have always introduced one new bug after another. OSX / MacOS is based on a program of planned obsolescence – unless you get a new Mac at an extortionate price every two years, your life will be full of the spinning beach balls of death. For those who say a Chromebook with Linux “can’t” do what a PC or Mac can do, they must be ignorant of the world of Linux software. I also use CrossOver (derived from WINE) which can run most Windows programs under Linux with the exception of those accessing COM ports (my DMR radio programming software, which communicates with the radio via a COM port, is Windoze only), and for that situation, I bought an old (2012) Toshiba Windows 7 machine for $150.
And finally, to those who say by using Linux on a Chromebook, I am “not using the Chromebook the way Google intended,” I say those folks are running crippled Chromebooks and not getting the most out of them that they could.
You know you can change the default crostini container to run another distro? I switched to Ubuntu awhile back and it’s made my crostini experience miles better. Most of what I do on my Chromebook is in the Linux container since I need desktop apps, so replacing ChromeOS’s somewhat hamstrung Debian container with a full Ubuntu install with no limits and full system integration has been a revelation.
Can you please share why changing the container from Debian to Ubuntu has made your crostini experience miles better, and why your experience with the Debian container is not as good. I’m open to a switch if I can see the benefits.
I don’t know the details of this. It’s something like Debian doesn’t contain the same software options / libraries as Ubuntu. Debian is stable but not that well made for users, Ubuntu is the main Linux made for normal people. The Linux founder has said Debian sucks for users but ok for building on if you are a developer. That’s the general difference I’ve read. It was questioned why Google went with Debian as default, but probably because they didn’t want to be seen as favouring ubuntu which probably would have upset too many linux nuts. Choosing debian is like choosing Cheese whilst ubuntu like choosing American cheese, the french would have been in uproar.
Really nice article, Kevin. Still, your rational for primarily using a Chromebook is EXACTLY the same rational used for persons using an iPad as their primary computing platform – when one thinks about it.
Personally, as you know, my primary ecosystem is Apple based. And the strengths of that ecosystem are the tight intergration between all of Apple’s hardware operating systems. The various examples of that integration are best understood and appreciated by the functionality provided thru OS features such as Continunity, Handoff, Universal Control, AirPlay, Live Text, and several important features available in Apple’s soon to be released OS software upgrades.
Of course, I do enjoy Apple’s Security and Privacy options – hey – if iMessage encryption works so well for the Secret Service that the US Government is ready to outlaw its use on Secret Service iPhones – it can’t be all that bad. Grin.
I have since stopped using just ONE device for everything. Yet, the Mac, with its capability for virtualization – second to none to any other platform – the Mac comes really close to be that “one computer for every possible use. Hey, if Linus Torvalds Uses a M1 Apple MacBook to develop and release the next Linux Kernel, does anything need more be said?
You’re spot on, Michael. And I know people that can easily use an iPad as their primary computing device. I’ve actually tested in my workflow and it does work, just not as effectively as a Chromebook does. Having a true desktop class browser is where gain the edge. But you’re right and that’s sort of my ultimate point: You can use this rationale with any device or platform. And people should so that they’re buying the best tools for their individual tasks.
No, Chromebooks can’t be compared to iPads. An iPad can’t even run a desktop browser. And even though iOS has the best and greatest mobile apps they are still mobile apps. Desktop applications are more powerful and versatile. Just because they are Linux desktop applications and not Windows or macOS ones doesn’t change this.
You have people that have been Linux pros in programming, IT, engineering, graphic design, animation etc. for decades. Give those people a Chromebook with a 12th gen Intel Core i7 CPU and 32 GB of RAM on one hand an iPad Air (with 4 GB RAM, a mobile CPU and a mobile OS that doesn’t even allow true multitasking, let alone arbitrary code execution or virtualization on the other) and let them tell you which one is more useful.
This whole “an iPad can replace your PC” that Apple fans push to Windows and chromeOS users is tiresome, just jingoistic platform supremacy nonsense. Ask those people whether an iPad can replace a MacBook Pro. That is when you will learn what they really think.
This time next year a person will be able to run Steam Borealis on Chromebooks that cost the same as iPad Airs that can only run Apple Arcade mobile games. That is just one of many examples.
Ipads or Ipad type Device will not be allowed to be as useful as mac.
Why would apple move to Ipad is good enough and hurt their mac range, when at present they can sell ipads and macs. Ipads limitations in the long run are business decisions not tech decisions.
Having said that most people can get by for their day to day life stuff just on a phone, an ipad is only good for bigger screen stuff. So Ipad doesn’t fit in that well technically or business wise.
Most of my family can do 98% of anything that they want to do on a phone. Phones are where most stuff consumer wise is happening. This whole debate forgets that. Phones are king for consumers not PCs, macs, tablets or Chromebooks. In that sense this whole debate is flawed.
Android tablets could have become major things but Google messed that up / went to Chrome OS.
Android tablets have 65% market share. So you might want to rethink that.
“ChromeOS is arguably a Linux desktop”
It’s not really arguable at all. It *is* a Linux desktop. What it isn’t, though, is a general purpose OS–one that lets you install any program/app written for its environment. ChromeOS is a specific purpose OS–created and locked down by Google to do specifically only what Google wants it to: run Google’s apps. That’s not really a bad thing since the reason for doing things the way Google wants is to enhance security and simplicity. Of course, this is all without turning on Android and Linux app support–options which allow you to turn it into a more general purpose OS.
I agree that in theory nearly everything that can be done on Windows and macOS machines can be done on Chromebooks with equivalent hardware. In practice however, if there isn’t a PWA or a (good) Android app available for a task, Google makes things a lot harder by requiring command line Linux expertise. It is difficult for some of us that are “a bit older” to realize how foreign the command line is to people whose tech experience began in the mid-2000s. Windows Vista and 7 were the first versions where few had to use DOS prompt. After that came the iOS revolution, making people even more GUI-dependent.
So yes, when the AMD Ryzen 5x25C Chromebooks come available people with intermediate Linux know-how will be able to install DaVinci Resolve for commercial quality video editing, install Spyder and do data science, install Blender to do animation, and even manually install Steam and Proton for gaming. (Despite not having the RDNA 2 graphics, the Vega graphics on the 5625C and 5825C perform very comparably to the Iris Xe 80 EU on 11th gen Intel Core i5.) Everything that is possible on the M1 MacBook Air will be on a Chromebook, and perhaps a bit more. In theory.
In practice most people aren’t going to know how achieve this and aren’t going to learn. No incentive for them to do so when Windows makes it easy for them and macOS makes it even easier. Google keeps telling themselves that the Linux feature is “for developers” so it isn’t enabled or configured by default, and even when it is the starting point is the humble command line.
As Google already labels Chromebooks “Basic”, “Plus” and “Premium” there is no reason to not do two things.
1. Ship Plus and Premium models with Linux already enabled and 16 GB of storage set aside. (Plus Chromebooks are required to have 64 GB storage, Premium 128 GB.)
2. Create a “Linux Google Play Store” with hundreds of snaps or flatpaks. (Which would include alternatives for most of the “hundreds of apps” that you reference above.) Yes, have the basics – a video/photo editor, LibreOffice, VSCode etc. – preinstalled.
If Google does this, all of the “why not just get a Windows laptop?” nonsense will go away. Until they do, then for everyone who isn’t a Linux command line guy it is honestly going to continue to be a good question.
Great comment atlman. I would say this however even if Google did all what you write, a good proportion of the “why not just get a Windows laptop?” gang would still not buy a Chromebook. A lot of those people are just not open to new possibilities and the it can’t do what windows can do is just a cover story for their closed minds. Once Google did all what you say they would just come up with another excuse. For many this OS stuff is like politics or religion, they are so deeply entrenched they’ll never admit to any failings or being wrong. They would rather let a bad situation continue than admit the other side had a few good points.
So much of this stuff is not really about tech but about closed minds or business interests.
It’ll take a young generation who aren’t entrenched for Chrome OS to really take off.
Hey, I get the fanboy stuff 100%. Because I was actually a HUGE Microsoft fanboy myself. Even bought a Windows Phone. (Fantastic hardware, no apps.) Right up until Windows 8 followed by the boatload of problems with the initial Windows 10 release. Have been a Linux, Android and ChromeOS guy ever since. So you are right about people like that who are never going to switch because I used to be one of them.
But I am talking about everybody else. And I am PARTICULARLY talking about the people who are getting exposed to ChromeOS at school. Give people who aren’t tech workers and tinkerers – plus LOTS of tech workers and tinkerers love Apple and Windows – the ability to easily run the apps that they want and need and it will make a real difference with those people. Force them to be halfway to a Linux+ certification before they are able to do stuff on a Chromebook that they can do on a MacBook by just downloading an app from the app store and clicking a few buttons and the Chromebook market share/mind share is going to pretty much stay where it is.
Take a look at the Steam Deck. Pretty much all the components were already there – Steam OS (or Steam on other distros), Proton, you name it – and has been for years. Putting it together in a convenient package so that people who were neither hardcore gamers or tech workers could access it was the key. Google needs to learn from its example both on a hardware perspective – they really do need to work with AMD and Samsung on custom CPUs – and on getting more people to use Linux apps. The sad part is that if Google had a way to collect ad data on Linux app users this would have been done ages ago.
Through the 80’s and 90’s, I developed a severe paranoia about MS Windows freezing up or crashing or corrupting data at the worst possible moment. While the reasons listed in the article currently also apply to me, my initial and primary reason for gravitating toward a Chromebook was the freedom that it gave me from that dreadful paranoia. I’m pretty much committed to Chromebooks now.
can we use Linux on any Chromebook, or only premium models?
The feature is available on all new Chromebooks from 2020 on, as well as some older models. A full list of supported Chromebooks is here.
Every chromebook I’ve used – that’s a many, some cheap. Early ones using crouton, which required you to go to dev mode, latterly using the inbuilt crostini, which does pretty much all I need. I use it for programming in java, C, and Rust, and to connect to a bunch of other machines.
I now have an ASUS C434 flip; that is mid-range. I can use it as a tablet, or program close to the metal.
That is the limitation – hitting the metal on your chromebook is tricky, especially through the inbuilt, non dev mode. For me, that is fine because I’m working with other, small machines – I can ssh to them, I can cross-compile.
Most linux apps seem to work, including graphical ones and things I have written myself.
In fact it is a bit astonishing. Code written on the chromebook debian runs on a raspberry pi w0 – which cost me £9.20 – with no change at all.
The comments on here are quite odd. So many who are basically programmers.
Where are the normal users ? people who can basically do pretty much all they need on a phone. But would use an ipad / Chromebook for bigger screen and slightly better productivity with mouse setup / desktop browser? Who might use a chromebook for internet shopping, email, google docs, you tube, zooming with their friends, research, school learning, streaming. The 90% of things that computers are used for by consumers. People who ride the train rather than build it or go train spotting? i.e the people the train was built for, the whole point of the project.
Are Chromebooks not selling to that mainstream gigantic audience? Or is this blog just skewed to programmers.
All you going on about Linux and what can’t be done. When Chromebooks are really for people who want a consumer device as easy to use as TV, games console or Phone. That is secure, reliable, easy.
If chromebooks are not selling to that market then they don’t have a future, once an executive realises the mainstream is not there Google will shut it down.
Linux is nice on Chromebooks, use it myself, but in many ways it’s actually a major sign that project Chromebook is a failure.
If mainstream doesn’t take off then it’s just another potential project Google could shelve anyday. Sad because it’s a great OS.
Basically what has happened is you lot have fallen for the Chromebooks need to be as powerful as windows mantra and taken Chromebook resources down that path. Which may technically work but wont really mean greater consumer sales. Consumers don’t need much most people can do everything on a phone or in a browser. The statistics show it’s true, how much time do people spend on phones? phones are the king device, consumers just need to be shown it’s true and that Chromebooks are desktop / tablet phone. All this is a marketing failure and being tricked into a certain path by the opposite side who you have let have frame the argument by stating what a chromebook can’t do for a small number of fusspot users. Google and the commentators here should have been more faith in the initial product, fine develop Chromebooks technical ability, but thinking that’ll help Chromebooks succeed is the biggest failure of critical thought and real world experience. You’ve walked into the enemies trap. Products that don’t ship sink, you want the perfect sailing experience rather than to sail at all.
I think I would argue the average Chromebook user is the ideal consumer you described, and that consumer who does everything on their phones normally doesn’t have to be convinced of ChromeOS’s utility. There is nothing missing from the ChromeOS experience for them with android app integration, and they can get a simple snappy device at an attractive price point.
The naysayers about Chromebook OS aren’t those people however, and that’s who the article and the comments speak to. If you prefer a Windows machine because of some supposed missing utility in Chrome OS, we’re here to say the utility may not be missing as much as our awareness of how to get it on ChromeOS.
You are right akatwhitty. It just seems to me that those people are doing more harm to Chromebooks and falling into people who despise Chromebooks hands by making a big deal of nothing. Allowing the argument to be framed in a certain way. When the bigger picture is that Chromebooks are great for ordinary folks with simple needs. If that message is smoked out by this whole software argument then Chromebooks will not sell to the masses, which they clearly don’t yet. At some point the project will be deemed a failure and stopped if the masses don’t buy into it. Microsoft want this to be the argument, it’s how they will beat Chromebooks, they want it out in the public domain that Chromebooks aint up to job. This tiny minority shouting Chromebooks can’t do this and that are doing Microsoft job better than Microsoft. Too many articles on Chromebooks like this pandering to a minority on the internet.
Fine help this minority but you can’t deny that the Chromebook haters love the way the Chromebook debate has been framed. They couldn’t have done it better themselves.
Everyone who wants Chromebooks to still be here in 5 years needs to be touting how great they and what they can do rather than posting what Chromebooks can’t do on every blog, just because a vocal minoroty can’t grasp the simple turth that Chromebooks are not
I know more than a dozen people of all ages who are normal, non-programmers, have never turned on Linux on their Chromebooks and it is a perfect platform for them. The main benefit of a Chromebook is simplicity security and not having to think about it. Chromebook is a computer for people who don’t care very much about computers, but care about doing all the things they need to do like right documents, edit pictures, surf the internet, listen to music, etc. Most things can be done in web apps today so the majority of computer users do not need installed applications.
A new “jumbo sized” Starbuck’s opened in my neighborhood. On the weekends I sometimes head over there and spend some time. I notice all of the Windows and Mac guys have to bring their charging cables and hunt for an A.C. outlet. In the two years that I have gone “full time” with Chromebooks, I quickly learned to leave the charging cable at home. I rarely ever run my chromebook down to “lobatt” and if I do, that’s a signal it’s time to go home. At home, I have another chromebook ready to rock and roll.
I have two active computers and a Laptop plus a couple of older computers. I am thinking about what to do about Windows 11, so I converted two of my unused older computers to Chrome OS Flex (so I converted them into a Chromebook). So far I have found that everything I do on one of my In-Use computers can be done on the Chrome OS Flex because I use Chrome and Gmail and maybe a Youtube video here and there.
So if that is all you need plus any specific apps that Google releases, then fine. Still, it is never going to replace my Streaming using the Spectrum app, recording the streamed Video and playback of recorded video with an app (Playon) that skips commercials, editing some videos, Turbotax, and about a dozen other apps that I use on that computer.
At least I won’t have to convert more than one computer to Windows 11 and by convert I mean to completely gut the system and essentially build a new compliant computer
My thoughts almost exacerly, (slight slur) intended. For over thirty years, ever since Win 2.0, I’ve been swearing, cussing, even once breaking my Dos or Windows w/o Dos machines because they were so slow. And then I saw my first Chromebook three years ago and after trying it out in the store I bought it on site! I now have two Chromebooks and one Windows Laptop running Flex. Well my ASUS wasn’t on the approved list, not even as a maybe, but since I had my Chromebook I could afford to experiment. It ran great for a week! Then it started getting wanky, then I couldn’t get it to re-install so that’s when I bought my second Chromebook, a 17″ ASUS 🙂
All the laptops in my household, and the travel ones, are using linux from XtraPC. After being fed up with windows updates non stop at the most inconvenient time which over a short time will slow down the laptop to creeping pace, i decided to boot it out of my house. The linux usb stick comes with documents, typing package and spreadsheet software similar to windows office. I also managed to revive old pc units sitting in my closet for years and now working at top speed. Cheers to chromebooks for giving us a good escape route from windows.
Google Stadia shows that pretty much anything can be clouded. If enough users want it then someone will Cloud it. The user numbers combined with what people pay for software means most of these tools are not worth clouding or developing in the first place.
The free of charge software thing (or pirating) is what has killed software not Chromebooks. When it’s free or very small users only hobbyist or crooks develop it, both of which easily disappear. Hence software comes and goes or is buggy. Any normal user wants reliability and long term support.
Most users have never needed much software. More software has been installed through malware than users have ever installed on purpose. You can count on one hand the pieces of software average people install. In reality they can do all on a Chromebook, the debate about software wasn’t started by mainstream people but by hobbyists and Microsoft. Most people don’t know what a chromebook is still, it’s a marketing failure. Outside of America Chromebooks are unknown to the majority. The software failure is nothing knew but the average person doesn’t care.
Hobbyists are their worst enemy and Microsoft has them in their pocket by controlling the frame of the debate. Both sides are stuck in the 80/90s, Microsoft with good reason $$$$. Chromebooks haven’t really had a launch yet and are either doomed or a thing of the future. Chromebooks need Steve Jobs not software, someone who can communicate well with the media who then pass that message on. The average Google executive has zero communication / marketing skills. You here them talk and think you wouldn’t trust them to babysit for you. Google has pretty much zero experience of selling things for money to real world people directly. Microsoft has a long run monopoly. Apple had Steve jobs the only big tech firm that sold tons of stuff for tons of money directly to normal people without any monopoly power – remember when Iphone started they were close to being bankrupt. People may hate Apple but it’s actually the most democratic business and hence why it succeeds. But it’s a locked system you say, but that’s what most real world people want. They want the experience to be TV / games console like, not an IQ / enthusiasm test.
Re: Video Editing.
There are at least a few decent ‘cloud based’ video editors. They aren’t pitched at ChromeOS, but of course anyone with a desktop browser can use them. InVideo, Flixier etc fit my needs. I have even used them to produce a 60 minute documentary for a government organisation.
I’ve used a Chromebook as my full-time work device for 2 years. My work could be different to your work, but these are capable machines now
I like the idea of a Chromebook. But I would probably only have at it as an extra laptop for lightweight tasks.
There are all sorts of windows games, odd programs and software, older games. And it won’t work on a Chromebook. Or it’s a hunt to find software that may work or convert it. And that time is very valuable and precious
If you’re spending a significant sum of money then you want it to do the tasks you want it to do. No shortcomings. And as much as the Linux brianiacs or the apple empty walleted fanboys bash it – Windows for me is the most cross compatible platform that most software was run for. It may be clunky sometimes and have unwanted updates but you just accept it like a family gathering. You’re there because you kind of get along and it’s a reasonably positive experience, but there are things that sometimes get on your nerves.
If battery is an issue for travelling etc, and I want a browsing PC, I might buy a chromebook. But it won’t be a higher end one. Why buy a top end CPU, screen, (GPU? Not sure if they are in chromebooks), when it may only see minimal marginal usage.
In the end I went for the Lenovo Legion 5 gaming laptop on windows. Intel i5 11th gen, 1660ti GPU, 512gb SSD, upgraded the 8 gig RAM to 16GB. And the thing runs a dream. On sale it was an excellent price too. That things a beast and replaces a tower PC, a smaller windows laptop. And does everything I need it to do. The power overcomes any software clunkiness.
If Chromebooks can run Windows software I’d consider a swrich because that OS is generally very clean and speedy. But I don’t think thats on the cards.
Why is it people who have invested in legacy software think Chromebooks are for them?
It’s like mainframe users from the 70s thinking why would they use Windows when they have everything setup and invested billions in mainframes.
Chromebooks aren’t for you they are for the new generation who do everything on phones and thus will largely move to Chromebooks with little hassle. Or even a generation after that who think Cloud is normal. People who use Cloud gaming, Cloud office, etc etc kids who will only need to buy new hardware every 30 years because it’s a terminal now and care about the environment.
Yikes it’s like old folks moaning about the good old days and how music and oxygen were better back then. Chromebooks aren’t for you, you’ve spent all your money on legacy stuff, Google are after the money that hasn’t been spent yet.
Its like petrol heads moaning about Elecitric cars or any attempt to clean up pollution. We get it you are stuck in the past, you wont change. Now just go kill the environment whilst us who’ll still be alive in 10 years time go and fix the mess you’ve created. Electric cars and the future aren’t for you, we get it, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Thanks for the debt, pollution, and breakdown of society we’ll write that on your graves.
We appreciate your POV, but please drop the ageism. Chromebooks ARE very much for older folks, too. I’m nearly 64. Simplicity, speed, security are the hallmarks of ChromeOS and the main reasons why people gravitate to Chromebooks. But most of us humans passionately avoid change, even when it’s obviously good for us. That’s OK. At one time, Windows had no real competition – and it sucked as an OS as a result. Having MacOS, Windows, ChromeOS, Linux, and smartphones competing with each other for mainstream users has actually made them all better at a faster pace. Capitalism can be an extremely uncomfortable but useful process.
There’s no evidence that competition has made things better.
Smart Phone & Chrome OS are effectively just new tech that was brought out 30 years after Windows. You are comparing horse and carts to cars, that’s not business moving on it’s Science.
Microsoft could quite easily do a great OS from scratch, but the lack of competition because of their monopoly means they have no need to.
Chrome OS barely registers as existing by usage numbers, and Googles whole desire with it is to keep the Google search monopoly the same way it has with Chrome on Windows. Every new browser that emerges is a potential threat to Google search monopoly, because the default search engine on a browser is what people use. Remember Google makes no money from Chrome direct. Google want control of the razors so you always have to buy their blades.
Smart phones are not used as alternative for Windows, Windows is for old style gaming and business apps. Most kids on smart phones can barely use Windows aside from Chrome. Also they are just new tech, Microsoft phone options were just as good as IOS / Andorid, it was just the marketing that failed. If anything competition has failed good products don’t win, the best marketed or monopolised do.
Chrome OS is great but it’s a happy accident, a by product of Google business strategy, nothing to do with the myth of competition making things better – some people will believe anything politicians tell them.
Amazon has zero competition from pretty much the beginning yet it has made things better than anyone. OK it has took markets from other but that was easy because so many weren’t competing. Amazon as monopoly now shows good business service can easily if not happen better with a monopoly. Amazon consistently ranks number 1 for customer service. OK now they make big bucks and pay low wages, but the customer must be happy with that, a new amazon could emerge tomorrow if there actual was such a thing as competition or people cared.
The Chromebook market is roughly $30 billion recently (before this year’s dramatic falloff). Meantime, AWS is about $80 billion, Azure is around $90 billion and even Oracle Cloud is around $30 billion. That is where the competition is. If your employer is on Azure, then more than likely Chromebooks aren’t for you.
I was reading this while drinking my morning coffee at work on my HP 360x 14C Chromebook I use to run my business.
I can run everything I need for business on a Chromebook. I have the 14C because it does allow me to have all my tabs open and runs faster than a lower end Chromebook. I started my change over to a Chromebook in 2018 with a Dell convertible 3180.
You cannot beat it for security. I have to enter my email, password and then insert my Yubi key to start it. If anyone steals my Chromebook they are never going to get into my account. I have this because sometimes I need to travel with the Chromebook.
The one thing I have found is HP printers seem to work best with Chromebooks. I have 3 and have had no problems setting them up or using them.
I have the Lenovo 10E tablet with a keyboard I use when I need to work at home. I just start it up and everything is the same as my office machine. They were a great deal when Lenovo cleared them off.
If anyone needs advice on running a business on a Chromebook let me know.
What do you run for accounting? I’ve been looking for an app like MS Money but haven’t found anything that comes close. I don’t need a full blown accounting program, just something to download my checkbook account from the bank.
I do everything I need on my Chromebook, a good checkbook program is the only thing lacking.
I use QBO through my accountant.
Chromebooks are a waste of space basically just a large smartphone complete shite
You mean smartphones that billions of people spend billions of hours on, on no we wouldn’t want a a slice of that market would we. Typical UK smug attitude to success.
I’m just happy we’re getting to a point of being platform agnostic (besides Apple). The apps I run in my Pop!OS machine are available on Windows (I was surprised to learn most of my Linux app faves are freely available for Windows), which are available on ChromeOS. I can run android apps on ChromeOS, Windows, and Pop!. Thru the advent of cloud gaming and remote streaming most of my Steam and Xbox libraries are available on any device I choose.
The only things missing are Microsoft Office on Linux, but the WebApps do in a pinch and WPS, Softmaker, OnlyOffice and LibreOffice all fill the gap admirably. Also no native apps for streaming services on Linux, but that isn’t a problem for ChromeOS with android app functionality.
What a time to be alive.
No judgement. I’m astonished at people’s comfort and trust in Google. Almost all posts keep mentioning “secure”. Google’s code of conduct originally included “don’t be evil”, now they’ve completely removed that. Probably because they’re evil.
Written on my Google pixel 6.
More likely they removed the negative catch-phrase because telling your people to avoid evil conduct sends an ambiguous and pernicious message. It’s the code of conduct that criminal defense lawyers and federal government elites follow. All kinds of very ethically and morally corrosive behaviors are nonetheless not explicitly evil. Instead, tell your people to do their best and be their best at all times, at all costs. And set the example.
I just got an HP Chromebook 14b with a Ryzen 3 CPU, SSD drive, and 14″ screen. It does pretty much anything I want and it is light for traveling. I don’t need to use it for Quickbooks or Excel macros. I also have an Acer notebook with an Intel i3-8130U CPU and 1 TB hard drive running Windows 10. I don’t use the Acer a lot and when I turn it on it takes a good 5 minutes before I can do anything on it. With the Chromebook it boots up in a few seconds. I can leave it on for a couple weeks without charging it and it is ready to go in about 2 seconds. One thing I have found that is irritating about the Chromebook is that some of the apps (like the Firefox and Brave browsers) do not have scrollbars. I hope a future update fixes that.
I have/had five Chromebooks now: an Asus 300 (retired due to dead battery), an Asus 302, a Lenovo Duet, a Lenovo 100e 2d ed, and an HP x2 11. I’m stuck with MS Office 365 because of work, but mostly the Chromebooks have been light, durable and great things to travel with. So I have some familiarity with using Chromebook. But disaster has struck in the last year.
First, MS killed off the standalone apps for Chromebooks. The PWAs are not effective substitutes, particularly for Outlook, where my email resides, and are now less capable than what runs on my phones.
Second, 103 and MS have apparently killed off OneDrive integration–the access to OneDrive no longer functions except within the PWAs.
Third, the RDP apps either are no longer maintained or further crippled: one can no longer use the webcam video and sound within RDP for zoom/teams/google meet, the way you can do with a Windows laptop.
That’s my current problem list.
I need to run out to the store, so I just have time to say, you took the words right out of my mouth.
Thanks for the awesome article.
Years ago I did WordPress development work. i ran IDEs, graphic editing software, local servers etc. i also dabbled in Android development. I needed a fairly beefy machine(s).
I no longer participate in these activities. These days, the majority of my online time is spent reading, watching videos/movies and just browsing in general. I have a mid-range Chromebook which fits the bill nicely. For what I do, I don’t need anything more.
The pandemic shutdown came suddenly for me. One day I went to work and by 10am I was locking the door, not to return to the office for several months. Luckily, I had set up most of our office systems in the cloud, and my personal Chromebook suddenly became my main business computer. This taught me that almost everything we do could be done in the cloud, and in many cases better thsn when using our office Macs and PCs. I’m never going back for personal or business use.
Chromebooks aren’t for everyone. That’s OK. I read a blog post somewhere that called them technology for the masses, not the classes, which is what Commodore called its home computers back in the 1980s. For the average, everyday person who isn’t a programmer or a tech head or a gadget freak, devices running Chrome are perfectly good options and alternatives to more expensive PCs and Macs. Even less expensive Chromebooks are pretty robust pieces of hardware. And they do everything that most ordinary computer users need to do.