Editorial

Chromebooks. Should Microsoft be concerned?

Google, a nearly impenetrable force in the search market, is also starting to make waves (no, not that wave) in the operating system market as well. No-one can reasonably say that Google has crafted the perfect laptop/desktop OS, but it is hard to overlook the fact that the platform has been gaining steam over the past few months.

Chrome OS is Google's lightweight operating system that attempts to make the browser the life of the device. In short, nearly everything you do with Chrome OS is heavily dependent on having an Internet connection and as long as you meet that simple requirement, Chrome OS delivers nearly everything you need via its browser.

Chrome OS comes on a variety of products from Acer, Samsung, Lenovo and in the near future, HP. The devices are called a Chromebook (laptops) or Chromebox (desktop) and come with exceptionally low price tags, starting at $199. The innards of these devices are usually quite light and are by no means intended for power users. In fact, Google has moved nearly everything to the cloud for these devices including local storage. (If you want to learn more about Chrome OS, you can read about the platform here.)

Seeing that more and more vendors are picking up Chrome OS as an alternative option for consumers, should Microsoft start to feel a bit concerned?

It is easy to write-off Chrome OS as a platform with limited capabilities, and to argue that it won’t work for the Enterprise (yet), but Microsoft should still be paying attention to this market as they have been unsettled in quite a few areas recently after failing to properly adapt (Windows Mobile, tablets).

Here’s the deal, Google is clearly making a clever pitch to OEMs to get them to start building extremely low-cost machines that appease consumers as they are in similar forms to Ultrabooks and yet cost a fraction of the price. To the simple consumer, these devices are exceptionally attractive as long as they fit a few requirements.

What are the requirements? If you need a laptop for checking email, browsing the web, and a simple word processor, Chrome OS fills all of those needs and does it at a palatable price point.

What we have is Google trying to undercut the market with a low-priced product, much like the failed netbook craze from a few years back. But, if Google’s Chrome OS is able to fill the gaps where netbooks failed (mainly, netbooks trying to be considered full-class notebooks, when they lacked the horsepower) and are properly marketed to consumers, Google could make a strong play.

So, should Microsoft be concerned about Google’s Chrome OS? Put it this way, if they don’t wise up and start fending off the competition early on, they will once again find themselves playing catch-up. Let us not forget too that Microsoft failed miserably at hedging out the iPhone, with Ballmer saying “there's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share”. Granted, that quote was when the iPhone was selling for $500 with a two-year contract.

Even though notebooks and desktops are currently Microsoft’s domain, if they fail to act now, they could yet again find themselves struggling to regain lost market share in the near future.

So, before you write off Chrome OS as another Google flop, think about what consumers will need for casual computing in the next few years. If you think Chrome OS might fit that bill, you will begin to see why Microsoft needs to wise up to Google’s play in the low cost market.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Microsoft Store in NYC's Times Square shuts down

Next Story

Apple releases iOS 6.1 for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch

113 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I don't see a market for a Chrome notebook. Unless I'm missing something, doesn't the current Android and IOS phones and tablets do pretty much the same thing? That is, casual computing, web surfing, email, etc.? They actually do more than a Chrome device because one can play games on them without an internet connection. You can also take pictures with them. And as for MS, their phones and tablets and do the same as well. I wouldn't spend my money on a Chrome notebook. Just sayin.........................

it'd only matter if a year from now windows 8 still sucks. all dependent on how bad the OEM's think Windows 8 is that they start looking for other ways to sell their gear.

It looks like most of the people here don't understand how much a Windows 7 or 8 machine cost for a business!

Yes, a geek can get a good machine with a very good price, but that is us, the entire process is very expensive for businesses, they have to pay for the hardware, for the hardware warranty, for the software, for the software assurance or whatever they name it, for licenses (at many levels), for storage, for servers, for Microsoft Server apps and licenses, for third party licenses, for IT employees, for IT consultants to help the IT employees, for …. (You name it)

And everyone charges them more what they charge a home user, much more.
At the end of the day, a small business CEO has to deal with a large bill from IT and constant headache, and when someone from Google demo him Chrome Book, with Google Services, storage, email, documents, etc. and show him how little it costs, many don't hesitate to switch.

Chrome Book and Chrome Box are not for home users, they will not run the latest games (actually they do run many now), but they will run the new Web Apps (in Google, or locally written using ASP.NET, PHP, JSP, etc.) or legacy apps over Citrix, they do not run the latest and greatest Excel 2013, but for someone who just want medium spreadsheet functionality, it does not matter if it is Excel or Google Docs, as long as it works and it cost less, way less.

john.smith_2084 said,
It looks like most of the people here don't understand how much a Windows 7 or 8 machine cost for a business!

Yes, a geek can get a good machine with a very good price, but that is us, the entire process is very expensive for businesses, they have to pay for the hardware, for the hardware warranty, for the software, for the software assurance or whatever they name it, for licenses (at many levels), for storage, for servers, for Microsoft Server apps and licenses, for third party licenses, for IT employees, for IT consultants to help the IT employees, for …. (You name it)

And everyone charges them more what they charge a home user, much more.
At the end of the day, a small business CEO has to deal with a large bill from IT and constant headache, and when someone from Google demo him Chrome Book, with Google Services, storage, email, documents, etc. and show him how little it costs, many don't hesitate to switch.

Chrome Book and Chrome Box are not for home users, they will not run the latest games (actually they do run many now), but they will run the new Web Apps (in Google, or locally written using ASP.NET, PHP, JSP, etc.) or legacy apps over Citrix, they do not run the latest and greatest Excel 2013, but for someone who just want medium spreadsheet functionality, it does not matter if it is Excel or Google Docs, as long as it works and it cost less, way less.


They have to pay for the hardware? Bussinesses do not _have_ to upgrade th eir systems. Windows 8 runs very well on Windows XP systems (you know, those Pentium 4 512mb ram systems) in my experience, Win8 is even faster then XP on XP based devices.
So where is this hardware requirement? Non-existant. Businesses do not need the latest and the greatest. They do not need quadcore 8gb monsters. Not at all.
Most cooperate use of a system is Outlook, Words, maybe 1 or 2 custom applications. A webapp here and there. So these businesses already have the hardware, since they already required systems to begin with.

And you can also NOT lock down a Chromebook like you can lock down a Windows system, also it is not possible from a centralized point (a Windows server for example). And especially major cooperations do NOT want their users to have 'root' or 'admin' like powers on a company device.

And for 200bucks you can easily buy 3-4 year old laptops which run Windows 8 perfectly fine.
You can probably even find them for a 100bucks.

There is nothing the Chromebook can offer above Windows 8. Anything it offers cloudbased, a cooperate Windows environment supported for years already with the same functionality, except with the option of having everything on-site AND off-site.

Well, as I expected, you do not understand how business work, so here we go:

The computer life is about 3 to 5 years, after that it is decommissioned and it goes to recycling, large businesses don't by hardware from BestBuy, they have their providers, and these providers charge a minimum 2,000USD per hardware you can get at BestBuy for 600$
But unlike BestBuy, that hardware comes with ton of support and warranties over the 3 or 5 years, if it is one PC it is easy, but if you need 2,000 PCs you know that some of them will eventually stop working and they will have to be replaced on the spot, data transferred, etc.

ChromeBook for businesses comes on a monthly fee as well, it end up around a 1000 over 3 years, auto replaced every 3 years, a PC for business is much more expensive.

Windows Maintenance is a looooot of work, you have to take care of patches and updates, you keep working hard to make sure everything is locked down, then there is the long exception list of people who will not be locked down, then there are the file servers to store the files, and the SharePoint Servers to store the files better, and the database servers to also store some files (yes some crazy IT people do that for some reasons) etc, work and a lot of work.

There are people who run the show, and there people cost money, a consulting company charges between 150USD and hour to 300USD an hour (Toronto, in NY is double that), they send a few people at this price to help the company organize their files of systems or whatever, all cost money.

Microsoft is making a lot of money from licensing, but Microsoft partners make 10 times that for support, add all tougher and the number is just huge.

With Google Docs, you don't have to worry where the files are stored, should we move the server at this branch or at that branch, you don't have to worry about central networking, you just have to get everything connected on the internet, you don't have to worry about the hard drives being backed up, you don't have to worry about a lot of things, and that all is translated to less money, way less money.

Yes, Google Docs is basic, and ChromeBook or ChromeBox are very limited, but this is what many many businesses really want! And that are billions in loses for Microsoft who ignored what some businesses wanted for so long.

i wouldn't waste my money. i think these are perfect in a primary school enviroment, but only if they have the bandwidth.
i suppose they cant be centrally managed. my view is they are going to flop like the firefox phone.

too late into an already crowded market.

does the chrome OS support touchscreens?

I recently bought one of these for my mum, £200 does everything she needs and wants from a computer.

is not prone to the viruses and issues that windows has when in the hands of some one not computer literate, its fast booting and has long battery life.

i would honestly recommend them over any windows pc for the people who just want a Facebook computer or web browser they are fantastic.

People buy them, find out it cannot run 'X' and put them on Ebay again.
All this sounds even worse than Linux, and we know how much that is used in homes.......

I have been asked about these by non techie people at work. I recommend against them as a cheap win 8 laptop can offer the same. I think ms should not push metro as much as it would be easier for Android on a laptop to compete. I love a bit of desktop detail.

i'm trully curious on how Android for desktop would do.

After all, Android just somekind of linux forks, should be possible to make it adaptable to desktop.

Edited by Torolol, Jan 29 2013, 6:39am :

It won't work, or at least it won't take the crown. When netbooks first came about Ubuntu was being pushed out with them as cheaper alternatives. Those came with all the essentials as well and weren't so dependent on the cloud either. Chrome sounds good, it has that Google name, but no one knows what it is except for maybe the same people who bought the Ubuntu netbooks before. I doubt this is anything for Microsoft to worry about as it is. If Google does somehow get in bed with the OEMs and gets them to start pushing out more Chromebooks than Windows PCs, then that's probably when they should worry.

I would like to pick one myself, since my $499 laptop that sit in my bedroom do nothing but use only for web browser.

Thinking about to give it to my sister since she love to play games, work with word and excel... that will be much better than using for only web surfing.

The wife has a Samsung Chromebook, to be honest if you're going to actually do work on a portable device, I don't see why you would get a tablet over it. The Surface is at least $200 more, same with the iPad, and they don't have keyboards.

threetonesun said,
The wife has a Samsung Chromebook, to be honest if you're going to actually do work on a portable device, I don't see why you would get a tablet over it. The Surface is at least $200 more, same with the iPad, and they don't have keyboards.

Why not buy a $250 W8 laptop?

I like this "reduced functionality" trend and I can see where it's heading. Next month Acer will introduce a reduced-reduced-functionality laptop. It won't actually do anything at all, but will look very great. When you turn it on it will boot in under 5 seconds. Then it will just sit there looking at you. All the functionality and storage will be in the cloud, so you don't even have to bother using it.

They'll cost less than $100 - probably $95 with a special two-unit-family-pack for $94. This is what Jerry Wang has been planning all the time. Although knowing Acer, it'll probably break the second time you use or - or don't use it, more the case.

I think some are missing the point with Chrome Books....

No, MS should be concerned since Chrome books cannot really compete with a full PC system. Chrome books...would be great for schools and people who just need email/web browsing. It is not intended to do everything.

So if anyone buys one and complains their apps wont work on it, or it doesnt do what you need it to do....did you research before buying to make sure you knew what you were getting?

techbeck said,
...

But the thing you fail to see within your own argument is HTML5.

We're moving beyond locally installed bits of execution logic.

This is cause for concern.

However, Google supporting non-standard protocols, like touch, webgl, and their hd codec, they are to the internet what Microsoft was to the desktop in the 90s.

Nothing to worry about today, but definitely sleep with one eye open.

I would think it is relatively easy to release a WinRT version of something like a Chromebook to blunt this from the start. Make something in the $200-$300 price range and people would be asking Chromewhat?

Google may of jumped the gun too soon, however there going after the business model the industry is heading.

Aka we've been going back to the Mainframe / Terminal model with the internet replacing the mainframe.

Is anyone STUPID enough to think Microsoft would have a problem competing in this price point space?

Really?

Microsoft could offer OEMs OS support and a copy of Windows 8 Home for a few bucks, just as they did with netbooks and XP a few years ago when Linux tried to make traction in that market.

To assume Microsoft would sit back and let Google just overtake the low end computing spectrum is insane.

thenetavenger said,
To assume Microsoft would sit back and let Google just overtake the low end computing spectrum is insane.

Let them, no.
Not able to counter quickly enough, sure.
If these devices turn out to be useful in any capacity then Microsoft will have an uphill challenge getting the ecosystem to shift to be competitive.
If the ecosystem is also producing Chromebooks, I don't know how Microsoft can sell the OEM License value proposition.

I think they should. Windows 8 is a really good evolution from Windows 7, but sadly people wanted to have a Vista fiasco again. There's too much hate around, and people want it to flop.

Lprd2007 said,
I think they should. Windows 8 is a really good evolution from Windows 7, but sadly people wanted to have a Vista fiasco again. There's too much hate around, and people want it to flop.

Ok, let's look that : Windows 8 = ugly skin, aero is gone, forced frontend and start menu is replaced with this ugly frontend. Windows 8 I-S N-O-T A-N E-V-O-L-U-T-I-O-N, it is just like i said, the main "feature" is this frontend that most people simply are disabled.

And don't say that Windows 8 is for touch interface because Modern UI is for touch interface but desktop.

So what exactly can a Chromebook do that a cheap tablet can not? Once you boil it down to such simplistic consumer expectations, I don't see the niche. In fact, only businesses that are wed to GDocs seem to be the target...

I don't know about being concerned, but I think Chromebooks are nothing to scoffed at. There's a company doing flu shots around here at various stores, and each station is equipped with a Samsung branded Chromebook. So at least there are companies finding a use for it.

I am not the base here, or the most common user around,but, I have a Linux mint netbook to do most of my light weight work in my 3 floors home.I completely enjoy Linux Mint on it and even when hooking 24'' LED Full HD TV, I get a similar experience to a low end notebook.

I am not the base here, or the most common user around,but, I have a Linux mint netbook to do most of my light weight work in my 3 floors home.I completely enjoy Linux Mint on it and even when hooking 24'' LED Full HD TV, I get a similar experience to a low end notebook.

I am not the base here, or the most common user around,but, I have a Linux mint netbook to do most of my light weight work in my 3 floors home.I completely enjoy Linux Mint on it and even when hooking 24'' LED Full HD TV, I get a similar experience to a low end notebook.

so here is the question. what if your router gets problem or there is a network outage? Its pretty useless device then unless you have internet right?

Now Microsoft has entered the hardware business they need to take their destiny into their own hands. The OEM's are not hesitating to support alternative OS's, so Microsoft needs to respond in kind and not support them. Gradually, of course. Microsoft is the only company that will always make Windows products and relying on OEM's like Acer who are trying their best to kill your product is foolish. Ultimately Acer, HP and others will go to what benefits them and will have no problem dumping Windows (eventually).

MS needs to get serious about hardware now and ramp up Surface production, lower the price of both the RT and Pro and really start expanding the family with new models this year. No need to have people like Acer's CEO around when you can do it yourself.

Article said


So, before you write off Chrome OS as another Google flop, think about what consumers will need for casual computing in the next few years. If you think Chrome OS might fit that bill, you will begin to see why Microsoft needs to wise up to Google's play in the low cost market.


This is true. On Google hands, they may push Android's feature to Chrome OS, and MS will have a bad time fighting that price tag.

The problem is, if Microsoft moves desperately and throws garbage like Atom processors, Chromebooks could take advantage by marketing that they are faster than Windows computers Atom processors are crap.....

the time that atom processors were crap is over. I have successfully run windows 7 OS with a reasonable speed on z2760. of course it's slow as hell on programs like photoshop etc. but I assume that is the whole purpose of Windows 8 right? those apps are kind of optimized for low power processors.

Jose_49 said,

This is true. On Google hands, they may push Android's feature to Chrome OS, and MS will have a bad time fighting that price tag.

The problem is, if Microsoft moves desperately and throws garbage like Atom processors, Chromebooks could take advantage by marketing that they are faster than Windows computers Atom processors are crap.....

Have you seen the specs of the Chromebooks? Lackluster, old hardware which is the only reason why they're cheap. Hell, there's talk that they are releasing a 14" from HP that has a 1366x768 resolution. Hah!

As for battery life? Chrome OS isn't exactly great. Quite a few of the Chromebook reviews out there think battery life is lackluster from such a minimalist OS.

Chrome books are not like Windows PCs, but for a businesses with a few thousand desktops that only run internally developed web apps, Chrome books are just a perfect solution for many of their problems.

Deploy ChromeBooks and stop worrying about updates, and desktop security issues, and reformatting, just create a main page with all your web apps and redirect all machines to it.

It is not Windows, but many businesses just don't want the Windows complexity and the too many features a normal user wants, I believe Chrome Box and Books will be success in many businesses.

Business likes Windows systems because of how easy and how manageable they are through systems like group policy and now with new things like InTune. Also, if anything, a business can get cheaper Windows 8 systems as well, without touch etc, and still get way more of a return out of them.

john.smith_2084 said,
...

You do realize many companies already have laptops and systems in place with at least XP/Vista/8. And you do realize any of these devices can run Windows 8. Making the hardware purchase not required.

I would think this would appeal only to college students or people who don't currently have a computer and only would do the most basic of online tasks like Facebook/email. I would consider myself between moderate and power user, and a Chromebook would not cut it for me. Enterprise users are going to need to Windows and likely run legacy applications. I haven't encountered any business no matter how small that doesn't use MS Office.

Depends, if there taking online classes, typically need a browser with multiple plugin support such as Java, Flash, PDF, sometime Realplayer, etc. Chrome is very close with Flash/PDF built in.

dagamer34 said,
I think PC OEMs are shooting themselves in the foot again building cheap laptops with low margins.

its in their blood man, they cant get away from building cheap POS devices.

Just like al pacino said

"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in"

Exactly, why do people overlook this? For years now we've known that the PC market has turned into a low margin business because OEMs have kept driving the price down. Apple doesn't have this problem and we see just how much they can make with their higher margins.

MS is trying to get the average price of PCs higher, which in the end will help all the OEMs. If they keep flooding the market with yet another cheap variation of the netbook all they do is hurt the market. Consumers are going to keep getting used to cheap hardware that has very low margins for the OEMs and not want to pay more. This is just a problem in the end, and they're being stupid not to try and counter it with better looking and higher speced devices.

At least with most newer Windows 8 device they push touch, that alone along with the ability to have a hybrid device like my new Samsung Smart PC, allows them to up the price. This device costs $760 with the dock and so far I'm loving it, I can connect it and use it as a laptop or detach it and use it as a tablet with all my desktop apps as well.

OEMs should be coming out with better devices like this at $500 or so which I'm sure is a price many people will pay for all they can do. At that price, compared to $200, just how much better do you think the return for them is?

You mention, and well, that Chrome OS and its associated hardware are being positioned as tools for simple everyday computing needs, such as checking email or browsing the web. Indeed, there's no way Chrome OS would be used for much more due to (1) the limitations of its hardware and (2) the constant need for an Internet connection, so I'll stick to that premise.

Let me first address the issue of text processing, to take it out of the way: I don't know anyone who actually likes using Google Docs for work, with the exception of being able to edit documents simultaneously -- the interface feels like WordPad, and its very feature-limited. Office 2013 and Office Web Apps handle simultaneous editing very well, so I'll consider that to be a neutral point (I won't say in favor of Microsoft because no one knows Office Web Apps or Office 2013 yet, and because you still have to save the document to see the changes others have made in Office 2013).

Now to the other "light" use cases. It's true that Chromebooks are cheap -- but are they really ideal for web browsing and emails? I say they're not; tablets are. I myself have an iPad that I don't use often because I'm a "heavy" user (and my MacBook Air is light enough to carry around...), but it's certainly excellent at doing those things. Microsoft recognizes this threat that the "mass market" is becoming a "light use market" -- in fact, they perceive it to be so strong that they were willing to fundamentally change the way Windows works, risking their "cash cow" in doing so.

Make no mistake, Windows 8 is an operating system designed for light use scenarios -- browsing the web, listening to music, playing Angry Birds, reading email. They kept the desktop there, but they're trying to make the lives of light users easier. With Surface, they are also trying to show OEMs how they can make their "consumption" devices a little better for "production" -- the keyboard is a very significant addition, something Apple should have thought of from the beginning, instead of relying on bulky Bluetooth-based keyboards and the likes.

So, should Microsoft be concerned about Chromebooks? I don't think so. They should be concerned about Google, that's for sure -- Android isn't a good OS for tablets, but with the user traction it has in the mobile market it sure could be adapted to become one. And that would be a real problem.


As for Acer's CEO's quote... Maybe Google is buying all those Chromebooks? Out of my 400 Facebook friends, 20 should have a Chromebook based on market share stats. Not one that I know of does...

Imagine if you have a large company or even a small business with 100 or more machines, I personally would love if everyone has the latest tablet and phone and exchange email etc., but when you look at how much that Microsoft solution costs, and how much will you save by switching to Google and still be able to run your business uninterrupted, then you will not care at all if your employees love the Google Docs UI or the Office UI, as long as Google Docs does the job, it becomes the company standard.

That's how companies work.

"That's how companies work". Well, no. That's how companies go out of business. Or close down their US base and move to China where Google doesn't exist.

john.smith_2084 said,
Imagine if you have a large company or even a small business with 100 or more machines, I personally would love if everyone has the latest tablet and phone and exchange email etc., but when you look at how much that Microsoft solution costs, and how much will you save by switching to Google and still be able to run your business uninterrupted, then you will not care at all if your employees love the Google Docs UI or the Office UI, as long as Google Docs does the job, it becomes the company standard.

That's how companies work.


Funny, even small companies are relentless to even run their stuff on Linux. And still rather stick with Microsoft.
You know why, because companies know they can rely on MS for taking complete care of their cooperate environment. They know that _if_ there is a problem, MS will personally look at it (if you have a support contract or pay for it, simple things are often done for free by MS though, although there are cases where MS sends experts to a little tiny 25people or less sized company for free).

Also as a company, I would like my own cloud. (Windows provided this ability for decades, network share + VPN). And not store company data in the cloud, and especially the Google cloud. seriously people, go read Google's privacy policy, or mail yourself something about the latest Mercedes and see Mercedes ads popup everywhere Good feeling they reading through your companies mail, isn't it?

Uh, Microsoft is moving forward. They have a pretty clear message for devices owners: Unification. Chromebooks don't offer that. It's almost as if they stepped out of 1995. Poor hardware, poor software, and nothing - NOTHING - putting it in anyway over the top of WIndows, Mac OSX, or even desktop Linux (And God knows, that OS has nothing to offer as well).

People buy into Apple, and they're not cheap. There's no reason Microsoft can't compete with the upper range either, after years of playing friendly with the cheap ****.

Dot Matrix said,
Uh, Microsoft is moving forward. They have a pretty clear message for devices owners: Unification. Chromebooks don't offer that. It's almost as if they stepped out of 1995. Poor hardware, poor software, and nothing - NOTHING - putting it in anyway over the top of WIndows, Mac OSX, or even desktop Linux (And God knows, that OS has nothing to offer as well).

People buy into Apple, and they're not cheap. There's no reason Microsoft can't compete with the upper range either, after years of playing friendly with the cheap ****.

How can you describe a product designed to leverage always on / cloud services, as being like something from 1995. Cloud services to centralise and organise your life is the way forward it seems and where a number of vendors are headed.

And as for desktop Linux offering 'nothing' - I actually know more people who use Linux as their daily OS than use Windows 8.. I mean that honestly and not as a trolling comment. It works perfectly for them. And an entire team at work run all their workstations on Linux - they are Java and web developers.

My firm belief is that if core applications and games worked on Linux, more people would jump ship... Windows just is not THAT much better any more frankly and its dependence / familiarity with specific applications that keep people on Windows. And no I don't expect that Windows fanboys would look to change, but I just mean your average Joe who just uses a computer to get a job done.

Chicane-UK said,
...

Wont argue about your Linux viewpoint... if it works for you (others), why not use it...

As for cloud... Well, I really like the idea of cloud storage, sync, services... However, I sure hope that it doesn't become the only option anytime soon (think 50-100 years at least).

For one, the whole encryption not being done ON MY END really bugs me (i.e. I have the keys, all they have is some random byte strings which can't be used for anything) - why should I give my private data to some big company where THEY will encrypt it... pointless to me... they still can potentially use my data (which google does), can remove my stuff if they think there is a copyright or whatever issues, have to give the data to GOV if asked to... problem is bigger for confidential business data...

The other thing is, I just love having MY collections of music, videos, games, documents in MY control. Don't want to worry if I have internet access on a mountaintop, on the beach, in some village; or if some service will be discontinued, or I need to renew my subscription; or if some video will be removed for a silly reason...

That's the problem with chromeOS - cloud is the only option; you don't even have local storage... That's just ridiculous for this time and space...

MS at least partially moves in the right direction with cloud - provide cloud services to those who want it, but still provide a local front-end for those services (skydrive storage, have it locally too; Office 365, have office client installed locally too...).

I know many, many people who would be fine with this. People live in their web browsers nowadays. With the power and possibilities of HTML5 and Chrome's extensive implementations of new features you can create very impressive and powerful web apps.

Another advantage of Chrome OS is that it doesn't need a lot of hardware power to run fast. That allows manufacturers to spend a little bit more attention to the display quality, keyboard, ...

Microsoft should feel at least a little threatened by them.

Ambroos said,
I know many, many people who would be fine with this. People live in their web browsers nowadays. With the power and possibilities of HTML5 and Chrome's extensive implementations of new features you can create very impressive and powerful web apps.

Another advantage of Chrome OS is that it doesn't need a lot of hardware power to run fast. That allows manufacturers to spend a little bit more attention to the display quality, keyboard, ...

Microsoft should feel at least a little threatened by them.

HTML5 is not quite an alternative for desktop apps. However, most people buy expensive computer just for check email, read internet, lister music, watch videos, and write small documents. In this case, Chromebook is more than enough. I know several case of people that purchase an expensive imac just for that.

Brony said,
However, most people buy expensive computer just for check email, read internet, lister music, watch videos, and write small documents.

The problem is, you can't really even listen to music, or watch videos with it... unless it's some web service. So you might as well say listen to web radio, watch youtube...

Brony said,

HTML5 is not quite an alternative for desktop apps. However, most people buy expensive computer just for check email, read internet, lister music, watch videos, and write small documents. In this case, Chromebook is more than enough. I know several case of people that purchase an expensive imac just for that.


Actually HTML5 (I'm assuming you're talking about the set of technologies and not the markup language itself) is able to do everything that desktop apps can do, considering the browser maker (or JS engine to be specific I guess) implements the API's needed to perform whatever action you want.

While browsers might not give you these abilities, any web-based OS is going to end up doing this. And in order to do this, it'll have to recognize and enforce different levels of trust (like random websites, specific permissions you've allowed for a website, or trusted apps that you've actually installed). Without those levels of trust, you'd have an insecure platform that would let you save files anywhere, access data it's not supposed to, and utilize hardware it shouldn't be able to. This is true with every modern OS (including desktop ones), except iOS which needs to be jailbroken first (which effectively removes those restrictions altogether).

nobody will care anyways. users don't have the patience to wait for every win32 app to be ported to this convoluted browser model.

IMO the Surface RT is a much better device than the Chromebook. Trusting all of you data to Google scares me. I wouldn't be surprised if Google scans all of your documents to send you targeted advertisement. And it's just a mater of time when private user documents are leaked to the net for everyone to see.

Gungel said,
IMO the Surface RT is a much better device than the Chromebook. Trusting all of you data to Google scares me. I wouldn't be surprised if Google scans all of your documents to send you targeted advertisement. And it's just a mater of time when private user documents are leaked to the net for everyone to see.

Microsoft do the same. In fact, Microsoft is worst because they also acts as a Internet Cop.

Brony said,
Microsoft do the same. In fact, Microsoft is worst because they also acts as a Internet Cop.

Easy to troll false info... but your theory can easily be tested:
0. clean private data (history/cash/cookies...) in chrome and IE;
1. create a new google account in chrome browser (diff browsers just to seperate cookies and stuff)
2. create a new outlook.com (MS) account in IE
3. create 1 same document on Cloud and SkyDrive (or write one e-mail, whatever) with some easy recognizable and advertisable content (some specific product; program; development platform, framework...)
4. search the web in both browsers and watch the adds ...

On multiple occasions I had to look at the same stupid adds in chrome with my google account for days, related to some previous search, email, or...:
- looked up some development tools for .NET, had teleric adds for weeks;
- received few e-mails from sensei regarding training locations, seminars..., had to look at "rock abs in x weeks" adds forever...

Didn't have those problems with outlook.com (MS account), and I'm using it since release (ofc just "upgraded" my hotmail/live account).

Brony said,

Microsoft do the same. In fact, Microsoft is worst because they also acts as a Internet Cop.


You obviously haven't read MS's privacy policy.

MS wont even show ads when your editing a document or writing/reading an email. (this to lock out any chance of an advertising company or anyone else obtaining their users private information.)

Also as the MS Privacy policy clearly states, they do not track all of what you do, its actually quite a limited amount of data. Also all collected data is anonymous... is Google's data on you anonymous? I don't think so, haha.


But please try again dude.

Shadowzz said,

MS wont even show ads when your editing a document or writing/reading an email. (this to lock out any chance of an advertising company or anyone else obtaining their users private information.)

Unlike Google which will serve ads directly related to the emails you get with Gmail.

Yes, they should be concerned. Chromebooks are filling the vacuum left by the absence of the netbook. This isn't necessarily a profitable place to be for MS but they should not ignore it either.

The concern is people will buy these because they are cheap and get used to working with only webapps. They will no longer need Windows or Office. It strikes right at MS's biggest weakness. The $199 - $499 market is exactly where MS should be targeting with Windows RT. Surface was a failure because it starts at $599 (seriously, no one is buying these without the touchcover). They need to get in under iPad and around Chromebook pricing territory in order to stamp out the smoke before there is a fire.

uberlaff said,
Yes, they should be concerned. Chromebooks are filling the vacuum left by the absence of the netbook. This isn't necessarily a profitable place to be for MS but they should not ignore it either.

The concern is people will buy these because they are cheap and get used to working with only webapps. They will no longer need Windows or Office. It strikes right at MS's biggest weakness. The $199 - $499 market is exactly where MS should be targeting with Windows RT. Surface was a failure because it starts at $599 (seriously, no one is buying these without the touchcover). They need to get in under iPad and around Chromebook pricing territory in order to stamp out the smoke before there is a fire.

You can't say Surface is a failure without knowing: the total devices created vs. the total devices sold. It's a 3 month old product that had very, very limited distribution channels for pretty much 2 of the 3 months it has been selling. Not to mention it's a premium device, not some cheap plastic device like all of the Chromebooks.

That said, you can buy W8 products for ~$250, so what is all the hub bub about in regards to Chromebooks?

uberlaff said,
Yes, they should be concerned. Chromebooks are filling the vacuum left by the absence of the netbook. This isn't necessarily a profitable place to be for MS but they should not ignore it either.
If it's a market MS doesn't want to be in that's fine. I agree RT could penetrate here, but, in all honesty the decision from MS is more of "how many laptops would have been ours that are now chromes." Google could very well be creating a new market that Microsoft doesn't want to get into. But on the other hand, I only know of one person who has one of these and two teachers who have sinced put them in a drawer. Penetration just doesn't seem to be there.

"Yes, they should be concerned. Chromebooks are filling the vacuum left by the absence of the netbook"

wrong. that's the table space. move on to the year 2013 bud.

LookitsPuck said,

You can't say Surface is a failure without knowing: the total devices created vs. the total devices sold. It's a 3 month old product that had very, very limited distribution channels for pretty much 2 of the 3 months it has been selling. Not to mention it's a premium device, not some cheap plastic device like all of the Chromebooks.

That said, you can buy W8 products for ~$250, so what is all the hub bub about in regards to Chromebooks?

MS has said promptly how many xbox360 has sold, however MS hasn't mentioned the number of Surface sold. And about the very limited distribution, it is not that MS would want that, specially since MS spend millions of dollars in a marketing campaign.

Brony said,

MS has said promptly how many xbox360 has sold, however MS hasn't mentioned the number of Surface sold. And about the very limited distribution, it is not that MS would want that, specially since MS spend millions of dollars in a marketing campaign.


Okay sir, please elaborate me here.
Microsoft created the Surfaces to be an Industry standard. There was no goal to be profitable from the start. And it started as a side project (the project of the industry standard).
And its doing allot better then expectations.

So why would they want to hide any results?

Good one Microsoft!

Chromebooks remind me of an even more dumbed down tablet, other then surface.
Sure there will be a market for it, but its not nearly as big as the PC market, and this will most likely never gain significant traction because of its limited abilities ATM.

See you are still pushing the "Microsoft should be concerned" line

http://www.neowin.net/news/len...ould-microsoft-be-concerned

We see use of Open Office/Open Libre going nowhere because people know Office is the best productivity software available. We are told WinRT will go nowhere because it does not run Windows apps, that the store is supposedly anemic, but with the Chrome Store, just a year ago had a whopping 6000 apps and cannot run my desktop software.

And why just Microsoft? Apple is seeing a drop in their desktop/laptop computer sales. They are vulnerable with a cheap mobile computer, why shouldn't they be concerned?

1) Kudos for remembering that! 2) I extrapolated on that idea, Lenovo was one thing but now HP is playing in the Chrome OS waters...the transition won't happen overnight, but it's not an impossible thought.

bdsams said,
1) Kudos for remembering that! 2) I extrapolated on that idea, Lenovo was one thing but now HP is playing in the Chrome OS waters...the transition won't happen overnight, but it's not an impossible thought.

PC manufacturers also have Ubuntu hardware, but look at their marketshare. It's piddly.

bdsams said,
1) Kudos for remembering that! 2) I extrapolated on that idea, Lenovo was one thing but now HP is playing in the Chrome OS waters...the transition won't happen overnight, but it's not an impossible thought.
Obviously not impossible. But we don't live in a binary world. It's highly improbable. For the kind of money they charge for Chromebooks choosing a fully featured OS or a tablet are the alternatives. People grabbing chromebooks are tinkerers.

1) Kudos for remembering that! 2) I extrapolated on that idea, Lenovo was one thing but now HP is playing in the Chrome OS waters...the transition won't happen overnight, but it's not an impossible thought.

And just like the linux laptops / desktops that Dell tried to sell people are going to buy it because its so cheap and then when they realize it doesn't run any of their programs / games, they'll return it.

neonspark said,
good point. the chromebooks are inferior in every way to RT yet preached as the future lol.

What's especially interesting is that Chrome OS shares a not entirely dissimilar philosophy with the RT experiment: web technology as a software platform.

The idea that the web has advanced far enough to host an experience on par with apps is not new. Palm gave it a shot, and it was Apple's original iPhone plan. Going further back, it's a major factor in why Microsoft built ActiveX, and there were even musings within Netscape about building an OS out of the browser.

The big difference is that Google wants to bring the OS to the web, while Microsoft wants to bring the web to the OS. As far back as Windows 98's active desktop, Microsoft has been looking at ways to deliver web content to the desktop environment without using a separate browser instance.

Google, with Chrome OS, flips it around, and clings to the Glorified Document Viewer (er, browser) as a delivery mechanism.

What we're left with is a race. The end result is the web as a platform in all cases, but what's up in the air is how we get there and how the metaphor is structured. Microsoft is best situated for victory, but historically this advantage always seems followed by stupid mistakes by their project management. Microsoft is poised to move Windows into a UX where web apps and native apps are delivered side-by-side, offering a seamless experience that can translate to any form factor with ease. Meanwhile, Google is starting from scratch, delivering a fetus of a platform wholly restricted to web content and all the limitations that come with it. Chrome OS can never progress faster than the web itself, which gives Microsoft a VERY unusual advantage in agility.

Whether they figure out how to use it is entirely up in the air.

-Razorfold said,

And just like the linux laptops / desktops that Dell tried to sell people are going to buy it because its so cheap and then when they realize it doesn't run any of their programs / games, they'll return it.

Whoes fault is that? Chrome books are not for everyone and for a small group of people. If someone buys a Chrome book and doesnt research what it can and cannot do, it is all on them.

I see Chrome books useful for the school room, elderly who only do email/internet....things like that.

Whoes fault is that? Chrome books are not for everyone and for a small group of people. If someone buys a Chrome book and doesnt research what it can and cannot do, it is all on them.

I see Chrome books useful for the school room, elderly who only do email/internet....things like that.


I didn't say it was the companies fault. Just that lots and lots of people will make that mistake.

techbeck said,
Whoes fault is that? Chrome books are not for everyone and for a small group of people. If someone buys a Chrome book and doesnt research what it can and cannot do, it is all on them.

I see Chrome books useful for the school room, elderly who only do email/internet....things like that.


1. techbeck's comment didn't try to push the blame to anyone, just stating that a lot of those purchases where made because people simply saw a cheap laptop-looking thing (assuming it can be used like a normal computer, with apps working ...) and thought, my 2-year old kid could play with that (or similar )... many will return when they find out it's not what they thought.

2. The chromebook could be used in school hallways, lobbies, or such, since those machines only provide some limited web access anyway... It's not suited for a classroom, you actually need a real OS for that (be it Windows, OSX, Linux...).
I don't really think that such an OS (though I don't think it deserves to be called OS in the first place) has real-world value for anyone. Sure, some tech enthusiasts, people curious to know what it is, with some cash to burn will buy it to play with it a few minutes... If you need a real OS, you'll get a full blown desktop OS on a desktop or laptop. If you need just some light internet usage, media consumption you might go for a lightweight, cheap tablet... Why o why would anyone buy something that's worse than the "worst from both worlds"; that has practically zero functionality, zero compatibility, has a cumbersome, unpractical form-factor, and no horsepower to speak of...

nenki31 said,

2. The chromebook could be used in school hallways, lobbies, or such

TBH, Chromebooks are absolutely ideal for places like airports, hotels, hospitals--any place that has ever used the 'digital lounge' concept.

They're horrifically cheap without suffering the crippling experience of typing on a netbook or tablet. And JFK could stop pretending their iPads-everywhere crap was a good idea for their terminals.

They haven't made a blip on any marketshare reports that I'm aware of.

They've been out since 2011 for consumers..and since December 2010 for testers.

They're essentially a tablet with less functionality. But they do have keyboards and trackpads.

If you need very limited functionality and don't have much money, it's a good option. But you have to live in Google's ecosystem for this to work at all, really.

LookitsPuck said,
But you have to live in Google's ecosystem for this to work at all, really.

**** that then.

wouldn't surprise me if they collect any mouse click and keystroke.

chAos972 said,
Does anyone know a friend who *actually* has one of these? I don't.

I do here is our conversation about it earlier today:

Me: btw you still have your chromebook? I'm considering buying one for the XP
Me: or is it a waste of cash
Him: i still have it and am still liking it for a shared web pc
Him: considering upgrading to a new one as well as mine is a prototype CPU
Me: is there value in actually using the machine to understand it? Or is using Chrome browser enough to understand it's capabilities. I don't really have a *need* for one other than understanding it.
Him: chrome browser explains it
In all, if I'm spending a few hundred dollars on a piece of hardware, I want more than a browser to interface and enhance that investment. Chromebooks are a problem in search of a solution and that's still the case today.

CSharp. said,

I wish I did. Would really like to try one.

Some Best Buys have a kiosk so that you can try one out, which is hard to do because there's a Google rep trying to sell it to you.

chAos972 said,
Does anyone know a friend who *actually* has one of these? I don't.

You must not have many friends. Here's why the author of the article raises a legitimate point.

Go to Amazon
Type in Chromebook
See "#1 Best Seller in Laptop Computers"

omgben said,

Some Best Buys have a kiosk so that you can try one out, which is hard to do because there's a Google rep trying to sell it to you.

I don't understand this, speak up and say you just want to play with it for a while. Easy as that...

And FWIW, the Samsung Chromebook is #2 in Computers & Accessories overall at AMZN, been alternating back and forth between the #1 and #2 slots with the Galaxy Tab 2 ever since it came out Oct. 16.

MrHumpty said,

I do here is our conversation about it earlier today:

In all, if I'm spending a few hundred dollars on a piece of hardware, I want more than a browser to interface and enhance that investment. Chromebooks are a problem in search of a solution and that's still the case today.

I think you mean solution in search of a problem but I very much agree...Google is trying to pitch, very early on, a low cost alternative product for accessing Cloud based services, in the hope that they do start to take off quicker in terms of wider adoption with more services. If they do, their low cost product is in place...if not, it wasn't a huge gamble anyway.

Clever whichever side of the fence you sit.