A Matured Chrome OS = Window’s (and Mac) Worst Nightmare?


Over the years, we only really had two operating systems on PCs, Windows and Mac. Now, we have Chrome OS and Chromebooks, being sold. Chromebooks are pretty good, for casual users. They offer a streamlined, and safe experience, where people can’t screw their computers up.

Recently, Chromebooks have begun getting Android apps, apart of the operating system. Chrome OS, originally was just a browser based operating system, with the bare necessities, and a file explorer. Now, it is inching closer to something more useful, especially with Android apps. Albeit, Android Apps are still not nearly as sophisticated as desktop Windows programs, yet.

Imagine, if Chrome OS further matured, and offered tools, that could be found in Windows? Also, imagine if you could run Adobe Premiere, Lightroom, or Photoshop. If Chrome OS, matures to a point, where it maintains it’s fast speed, and also usefulness for power/advanced users. Could Chrome OS and Chromebooks, soon challenge Windows and Mac PCs?

What do you think?

Comments (37)

37 responses to “A Matured Chrome OS = Window’s (and Mac) Worst Nightmare?”

  1. skane2600

    IMO including Android apps doesn't make a Chromebook a better workstation but does undermine the security and simplicity that was its fundamental purpose. With the exception of apps that are inherently useful in a mobile environment, iOS and Android apps are really in the category of "good enough for mobile". There's little point in ChromeOS eventually morphing into a Windows or Mac OS clone since we already have that functionality available.

    • Nicholas Kathrein

      In reply to skane2600:

      The Android apps are ran in a container. It's very secure. It's as secure as you can make anything that runs an app. Other than having no apps which many would have said ChromeOS was many want to be able to have an app of some type not running from a web browser.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to skane2600:

      How would Android apps undermine Chrome OS security?

      I'll admit I know next to nothing about Android internals, but I do have an idea how Chrome OS is structured. Chrome OS would be quite difficult to crack since everything except /home, /tmp, /usr/local and /var are mounted read-only, /home mounted noexec, /usr/local being empty unless in developer mode. What are the security vulnerabilities for Android which could be exploited when running under Chrome OS?

      As for undermining simplicity, it's a trade-off between simplicity and functionality, and different people will choose different points on the continuum between simplest and greatest functionality. As it should be.

      • skane2600

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        You and NK may be right. My opinion was just based on the knowledge that malicious apps exist in the Play Store and the general principle that supporting additional ecosystems can potentially widen the window of abuse. These issues may be mitigated or eliminated due to the way Android support is implemented in ChromeOS. We'll have to see.

        I agree that there's a trade-off between simplicity and functionality and I believe there's also a trade-off between security and power.

        • jimchamplin

          In reply to skane2600:

          Yeah, they execute in a protected sandbox. My understanding is that the Android libs are even abstracted from the Chrome half of the OS, and that any interaction (clipboard, interapp communication) is handled by the sandbox. It's pretty well done honestly.

  2. PurpleDisciple

    Wouldn't take a huge push, and Microsoft isn't necessarily moving any quicker than Google or Apple in terms of effective OS convergence so I think it's a real possibility.

    The fact that the sort of Chromebooks within the budget for (a majority of?) Windows users who head straight for the cheapest pile of crap will work a lot better in ChromeOS is a major plus point now as well.

    ChromeOS is killing it in education. Windows S is a dead OS walking. WoA - you know, my guess is given the attitude of the majority of Windows program developers that it'll just be used to package Win32 apps in a more power efficient form, few will bother to actually develop from scratch for it and that it probably won't stop the tipping of the balance away from Windows.

  3. johnh3

    I guess Chromebook are a big challenge for Microsoft. But with Windows 10 S and Windows on ARM I think Microsoft going in the right direction to have a alternative in school and business.

    I think it is Apple who are in a bad position. iPads are not a alternative for fully replace the PC yet. And the Macs are to expensive in many cases.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to johnh3:

      Way too early to conclude Windows 10 S will succeed in the education market. It's still more complicated to administer than Chrome OS, and outside the US Windows is still the major OS in education, BUT it's almost certain that all those Windows PCs are running DESKTOP SOFTWARE which Windows 10 S won't run. I really can't see any school system switching from any Windows version able to run the desktop software they've already paid for to Windows 10 S so they can buy all new software.

    • wright_is

      In reply to johnh3:

      I must admit, I've never seen anything but Windows in education. When I was a school, it was PETs, but since then it has been all Windows. A few students have had Macs, but they are generally too expensive for students and the Unis I was at have provided Windows PCs for staff.

  4. Bob Shutts

    It's difficult to dislodge Apple users from their beloved platform. Witness how the creative community has been complaining about the neglect of the Mac Pro. Yet the lemmings built hackintoshes and limped along with rebuilt cheese grater Mac Pros until the iMac Pro came out. (Disclaimer: yes I'm one of the lemmings. SHAME!!)

  5. jimchamplin

    When I can play all PC games on a Chrome machine, I'll switch.

    And I'm not being a jerk. I'd be totally okay with it. Sure, I love Windows, but if I could run everything that matters to me on a machine that simple, then I'm IN!

  6. MutualCore

    No. As soon as any user realizes they need a legacy application like Notepad++ or some video editor application, it's over for ChromeOS.

  7. wright_is

    Google and its partners have to actually start selling the devices first and at competitive prices.

    Over here (Europe), you just can't find them, or when you do, they are way too expensive. The ARM based Samsung was heralded as a bargain, it cost, what? Around $199 in the States? On Amazon Germany it was available for between $500 and $600, you could get a decent Windows laptop for that price.

    In 2013 a single device made it into the top 50 best laptop seller on Amazon, in the top 100 was 1 other device listed. Since then, whenever I have checked, there hasn't been a single device listed.

    A strange situation, considering that Android has around 84% market share in Germany (Apple had 16%, last time I looked) and Google.de accounts for somewhere between 96% and 98% of the search market.

    That said, Google also has a poor reputation in Germany for privacy, it is just that none of the other search services have produced usable results in the past - Bing has become half way usable in the last 6 months or so.

    Google's ChromeOS / Chromebook strategy seems to be about on a par with Microsoft's Cortana strategy outside the USA.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to wright_is:

      Interesting that there are no Chromebooks available in Germany for, say, €200.

      Gotta ask even if it seems nasty: with all the claims of privacy concerns in Europe, why no European web search service? Too costly? Europeans prefer to dictate terms to US companies? China has built up its own web search service; granted China has a few times the population of the EU, but EU as a whole has at least half again higher GDP than China.

      • wright_is

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Too many different languages for a start. And too little funding for startups. To make a search engine equivalent to how Google (the search engine) is today, you will need to invest billions of Euros.

        When Google started, there were a couple of local-language search engines, but all the money went into Google, Yahoo!, Alta Vista, Ask and a few other, primarily, English language search engines. The net was pretty geeky back then and most people working in IT could speak some English and a majority of material was available only in English. Therefore English language search got all the investment.

        Once they had become established, Google invested heavily in indexing different languages. By then, the search algorithm from Google had become the standard for search and the partly curated results from foreign language search engines couldn't keep up. Yahoo! was popular for a while in Germany, partly because they weren't Google, but their results weren't very good and then they switched to Bing on the back end.

        To come into the market today, you would need to start up with every language, or at least all common languages in Europe, which means at least a couple of dozen. The average search engine user today has a primary language and a small amount of English, not enough to read a news article, for example, let alone technical information. That means that it is financially not practical to build a new company in global search today - look how long it has taken Bing to get even half-way useful foreign language results!

        The French and Germans both tried to launch local language search engines, but they never got a foot hold, didn't get any sort of marketing budget and seem to have fallen by the wayside, without even getting a significant number of users.

        Money is the problem.

        I have been using Bing as my primary search engine for the last 6 months and the results have been mostly usable, probably one search in 15 has had me going over to Google, because Bing wasn't bringing up useful results.

  8. VancouverNinja

    Chrome OS is going nowhere fast.

    Their K - 12 adoption has slowed with MS's renewed push into the channel, Windows S and Minecraft. You don't save any money with the OS or their devices and you actually get less features and options for your hard earned $$$.

    A solution for a fix that no one needs; but that Google desperately needs to keep Android a relevant mobile OS platform over the next 5 years. Without ownership of the productivity PC, or even proper support of the leading one, they are open to losing their dominance on mobile phones.

    Don't forget most consumers will have a new phone every 2 - 3 years, so it is not hard to believe that a massive percentage of Android consumer users would easily switch to a similar priced product, that does the same basic services - Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, games, home automation control etc. People use Android but they are not close to being loyal users of it - it just happens to be what runs the phone they did seek out to use.

  9. ErichK

    I've thought about that. But then I wonder if it makes sense for it to morph into what we already have, i.e. Windows laptops, when we already have, heh, Windows laptops. I liked the original vision for Chromebooks. Simple, cheap, hassle-free. I keep thinking I want to get one, but I just don't know if I'm ever going to pull the trigger. It would mainly be for tech curiosity, I think, but that's not to say it wouldn't come in handy -- it probably would have much better battery life than the 2-in-1 I have now.

  10. Nicholas Kathrein

    All this talk about Windows S on Arm and the date that is all available made me ask why anyone would think Windows S on arm would be better than Chrome OS on arm? Windows S is still Windows 10 meaning the OS still is more complex and resource intensive than Chrome OS so if Android Apps do indeed get much better over the next 6 months Chrome OS will be lighter and have a way better updating system if the apps are about equally available. I don't see why not choose Chrome OS.

  11. hrlngrv

    As someone who makes structured drawings (Visio, Dia, Draw.io) and only uses Paint for cropping and annotating existing image files, I've never understood the recurring references to Adobe software implying that it's widely used. Do 10% of Windows PC and Mac users pay for and use PhotoShop, Lightroom, etc? I can't imagine it'd be more (because that'd be over 100 million users, which would imply Adobe's annual revenues were over US$10 billion), but I could see it being 5-10%.

    That said, there have been other OSes for decades, just not with user share over 3%. FWIW, desktop Linux still has greater user share than Chrome OS, but Chrome OS is growing. Interestingly, it doesn't take much to make Chrome OS machines into simultaneous Chrome OS and Linux machines. At that point, there's a lot of available software.

    • skane2600

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      I guess it depends on one's definition of "widely used". Rather than claims about usage percentages, I think the implication is that these tools are standards and are important. I agree. I don't think there's really any debate about the usefulness of Chromebooks for a subset of casual users, but a PC or Mac replacement requires much more.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Locust Infested Orchard Inc.:

      When one thinks of Silicon Valley, one often has . . . Qualcomm (San Diego) . . .

      When was San Diego teleported within 100 miles of the Bay Area?

      Besides, even if Adobe commands a 72% share of the creative market, if that market makes up less than 10% of the microcomputer market, that'd be less than 10% of microcomputers. The number of users of Adobe products other than Acrobat is unlikely to exceed 50 million worldwide. Considerable value may be derived from that use, just as considerable value is derived from using GNU R in analytics, but not by the overwhelming majority of microcomputer users.

  12. Bats

    Chrome OS and Chromebooks are already challenging Windows and Mac PCs. At this stage of the desktop computing, Microsoft and Windows have everything to lose. Their whole revenue stream comes from the licensing of their Operating Systems and such. Whatever effects that stream, their stock price and the Microsoft Universe goes nuts.

    Any gain in marketshare by Chrome OS, is a red alert for Microsoft and a victory for Chrome.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Bats:

      As long as enterprises keep using Windows PCs and those enterprises keep paying annually for software assurance and volume purchasing plans, you needn't fret over poor MSFT's Windows revenue stream.

      • Nicholas Kathrein

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        I work in enterprise. We are evaluating them. We are a dell shop but use Chromeboxes in stores as Kiosks and moving systems towards web based front ends. We hope to have native apps for die hards and web based for new / younger workers who are ok with working in 0365 web clients. We're evaluating the newer Samsung Chromebook Plus. It's very nice @ around $500 which is 1/2 the cost of our Dell Latitude we use. With Android apps we now have word, exel, and powerpoint. Hopefully MS will add MS Teams and Access. Outlook is currently like the web version so I'd love the same quality app is on Windows but I think MS is not showing they like Outlook 2016 complexity going forward but will see. From an admin standpoint ChromeOS is crazy simple as well as very secure.

      • Tony Barrett

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        That is so true - until most things go web based, when enterprises too will slowly start realizing they also don't actually need Windows anymore, and certainly don't need to pay MS that obscene annual SA ransom. I think MS are planning for that, although they're doing their darnedest to give Windows one last swansong.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to ghostrider:

          I've been waiting for enterprises to recentralize workplace software for over a decade. Where I work we've had Citrix with nearly everything everyone outside IT and marketing use since 2005. The exception for me being one specialized Excel add-in which uses a form of network authentication which requires Excel running locally rather than on a server.

          Anyway, complex and compute-intensive software running on application servers has compelling if not irresistible economics behind it. This sort of thing is already available for Chrome OS along with any other OS with a modern browser via rollApp. rollApp only provide remote Linux applications, but there's no technical reason the same could be done for Windows and macOS applications.

  13. Greg Green

    I think this is a bigger possibility in the business world. At my workplace almost everything we did was web based, other than Office of course. One outlier DOS program that we used Dynex, or some such thing, to make it work. If chrome could do all that and provide a significant level of security (and less update hassles) then I think the switch could be possible.

    Then the only Softies left would be gamers.

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