Windows Cloud vs Chrome OS

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I’ll try and keep this short.

The big benefits of Chromebooks are low cost, low maintennce, limited software, and built to thing everyone does; get online.

In education the devices are a boon because of these factors and of the fact Chromebooks come with Google Apps schools don’t have to pay extra for. All this will be a challenge for Windows Cloud.

Now it’s not an unwinnable fight.

For one the Chromebook growth seems to be limited as of now. North America  and especially the US is where they’ve seen movement. Also those Chrome OS gains come at the expense of Macs/iOS. Secondly Chrome is still reliant (or seems to be heavily reliant on) a web connection. This is fine for places where there is a steady internet, but not everywhere.

For Windows Cloud Microsoft could make the argument about creating a platform that 1) grows with the student, 2) Offers software/services that enhance learning, and 3) Is low maintence for teachers and staff.

Now for Microsoft the key will be in balancing the heaviness of Windows with its benefits. Chrome is light and fast and limited. And by liited I mean their is enough there to get things done, but not enough for distraction. Windows will have to match that. In Redmond’s favor Cloud offers offline in ways ChromeOS doesn’t.

Also Microsoft is going to have to over FREE apps. I mean OneNote is a big thing for Cloud but they need the full Office suite there. I mean this is anecdotal but a lot of students grabbed RT devices because they were simple, good enough Word devices.

Lastly Microsoft needs to stick the landing with mangeability. Chromebboks don’t require an IT staff and Windows Cloud shouldn’t either. This might be the biggest hurdle for Microsoft.  We will see how it goes on May 2.

Comments (39)

39 responses to “Windows Cloud vs Chrome OS”

  1. skane2600

    I you think RT devices were a big win with students I can see why you're optimistic for Windows Cloud.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to skane2600:

      Two of my cousins took RT devices through college. One an original Surface RT, the other a Nokia 2520. The Surface RT owner still uses that device as their main PC using a USB hub and external screen.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to skane2600:

      Windows RT bundled DESKTOP Office, though a version unable to use VBA macros or external add-ins. Will Windows Cloud bundle a version of Office more powerful than Office Mobile? At essentially no additional cost?

      • skane2600

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        If our understanding of what this product consists of is correct, its initial configuration runs only UWP apps. If MS had a full featured Office that runs under UWP, I would think they would have offered it already to promote UWP. But in any case, the nearly-compatible version of Office it offered for WinRT wasn't enough to make the product a success, so I don't know if it would matter much to Windows Cloud either.

  2. Roger Ramjet

    Actually, Office 365 Online is already a free service to anyone in the education sector, so Microsoft already matched Google on price there, with a better, or at least a more widely used product.


    Maybe WIndows Cloud will never be as simple on manageablity as Google's "internet first" approach, but I don't believe they need to match them exactly there, they just have to do enough so that they are competitive (the same way Google's spreadsheet does not have to be Excel). As long as they can offer enough offsetting advantages, of which Microsoft has many opportunities  the Windows Cloud product could do quite well, the balance will be determined by several factors, not one.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Roger Ramjet:

      Are there any public usage stats for Google apps and Office web apps? Tangent: Google Sheets can be extended by its own Javascript variant; Excel web app is what it is and can't be extended, much more than the spreadsheet in Works of old but not close to Desktop Excel.

  3. DaQuantumFro

    Okay, one thanks for the replies.


    Two, I posted this after listening to the latest episode and agree for Cloud to succeed it needs to be easily triaged by non-IT. Thanks to Roger Ramjet because I did not know about the O365 SKU.


    I sort of agree with Nathaniel that ChromeOS's basic design gives it an edge, but it's not something Windows Cloud can't overcome. The idea, at least from my perspective, is in making a version of Windows where the modern stuff is pushed forward. Remember most of the modern mobile OSes (including Chrome) aren't based on new tech. ChromeOS is Linux like RT was based off NT. The goal is letting the more mobile aspects of Windows come together and bundle up the rest and lock it off. Beyond that I think the focus  will be on how Windows as a solution that works from Pre-K to K-12 as opposed to iOS ad Chrome. 

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to DaQuantumFro:

      The question becomes how much simpler Windows Cloud would be. There are still several desktop applets which come bundled with desktop Windows 10: Notepad, Wordpad, File Explorer, Regedit, Task Scheduler, Control Panel (for a few things still), and a few others. Will there be free UWP replacements for all of them? Well, there is a UWP File Explorer already, underfeatured but perhaps equivalent to Chrome OS's Files app.

  4. hrlngrv

    Chromebooks can do a lot without an internet connection, but how much would a Windows Cloud netbook do without an internet connection?

    On a Chromebook, Google apps (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings and Forms) are available offline, as are some of the utilities.

    On a Windows Cloud machine without an internet connection, you'd need Office Mobile unless MSFT plans to provide the web apps offline. MSFT is eager to abandon Office licensing revenues from schools? And re Windows 8 RT, DESKTOP Office was bundled with RT, so unless people needed macros or add-ins, Word, Excel and PowerPoint should have been good enough. MSFT believed they had to bundle free DESKTOP Office since there was so little else available for RT when it launched. Shame there's still so little for RT today, 4.5 years after it launched.

    As for Windows Cloud, what software/services that enhance learning? All those UWP apps? Examples?

    As for management, Chrome OS has an advantage: a file system which can mount some partitions read-only and exec and others read-write and noexec. Believe me, I'd welcome Windows being able to run from read-only media or partitions.

  5. Tony Barrett

    It's likely Windows Cloud will be subject to all the same voluminous patching and update problems that standard Win10 has, with the inherent (high) risk of things breaking. Performance on low end hardware is subjective, but ChromeOS was designed from the outset to run on low end kit. Windows 10 scales up and down, but at the lower end, performance is questionable. Updating ChromeOS is an absolute breeze, and usually takes less than a minute from starting the update to being back at the logon screen - the same cannot be said for Windows 10.


    Honestly, WinRT was meant to rule the classroom - it didn't. It's just one more arena MS lost because of bad management and their belief that their own monopoly could not be toppled. How wrong they were. If they think the education market only selected ChromeOS because they were waiting for MS to pull their fingers out, they are sorely mistaken. MS may pick up a few contracts, but I think ChromeOS in education is here to stay, and MS will struggle to re-gain traction.

  6. Jeff Goldman

    Actually, what a lot of people have known for many years is that people need very little of the power of Word or Excel in their daily work. I could say that most people use 5% of Office apps (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) in their daily work. And students in a Science/Engineering/Math discipline might use more of Excel than other students. Your average middle manager will only use Word for letters, memos, etc. and rarely gets past the first layer of menus. So, the simplicity of Google Apps (which will output docx/xlsx/pptx files if necessary) is actually all K-12 need and might even be enough for their college years. It is not really a big step up to use Office in their first job and may even use Google Apps for their lighter work. Without Office MS has nothing to compete with G Apps. And their only attempt at an Office Light (MS Works) was an utter failure. Finally, without a robust internet connection MS Online Apps are very slow. So, its hard to see how a Windows Cloud will compete well with Chrome OS.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Jeff Goldman:

      Not sure I agree about Works. I figure MSFT killed it because it did prove to serve most home users needs, so a lot fewer were buying Office. Thus the death of MS Works and the appearance of Office Home & Student with Office 2007.

      As for slow, Google Sheets can be pretty slow too. No clear advantage to either set of web apps.

    • skane2600

      In reply to Jeff Goldman:

      I don't think Microsoft Works is really relevant to this discussion but since it existed from DOS in 1987 through Windows until it was canceled in 2009, I think the evidence suggests that it was, in fact, a successful product.


      I'm not inclined to believe that Windows Cloud is going to be a big success, but I think the idea that Google Apps are superior to Microsoft's online Office apps for light work is a hard case to make. Any school that doesn't have a robust internet connection shouldn't be considering either product.

  7. Dan1986ist

    I agree with what Brad had to say on Sams Report this morning, teachers should have a way to reimage Windows 10 Cloud devices in their classrooms. Hopefully, Microsoft implements this feature.

  8. AnOldAmigaUser

    What makes you think that Windows Cloud will not require the same servicing as other versions of Windows (including Windows RT, which still gets patched)?

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to AnOldAmigaUser:

      Because it's Windows. It isn't a rearchitected version, it's just Windows that won't allow you to run standalone installers. All of the legacy baggage is there. It's easy to tell that from one look at a screenshot that it's just plain Windows 10.

      • AnOldAmigaUser

        In reply to jimchamplin: Which was, I think, the point I was making. It will require the same patches that every other version of Windows, including RT, requires. That is more maintenance than ChromeOS requires; and, based on my own anecdotal experience with teachers and tech, more than many teachers can provide.
        If you do a full reset on a Windows computer, then the first account that logs in, is the admin account. Not ideal in a school environment.
        Maybe Microsoft has resolved many of these issues. I have not seen the product so I will withhold judgment. However, if it is full Windows, then maintenance will be no simpler than it is for any other version of Windows, That was the point I was attempting to make.


  9. pecosbob04

    "Also those Chrome OS gains come at the expense of Macs/iOS. " Interesting... but how about a citation? In my admittedly limited experience I have never seem a Mac or iOS device replaced with a Chromebook, but i am aware of at least 7 cheap Windows boxen that have been replaced by the Chromebook juggernaut / scourge.



  10. Nicholas Kathrein

    The way I see it...


    #1 biggest reasons Chrome OS is better than Windows in schools.


    1.Price, 2 easy management of devices. If you haven't ever used it you can't even understand how much easier it is. 3. Slimed down OS to the point where low end hardware is fast. 4. OS with no old proprietary software base. Designed more like the phone OS so everything run is like in its own container. 4. Imagine hitting an option in the OS or pushing a special recessed button on the device when in a special boot mode to wipe the device and start from scratch like you just took it out of the box. You can do this and it takes only about 1 min. Pretty much like factory resetting your phone. On login with your google account everything is downloaded back exactly how you left it in less than a few minutes.


    I'm sorry but MS would have to recreate Windows from scratch to get something that works like this. As far as Paul has said they have not. They just block you from running apps that aren't in the windows store. People even have hacked it to allow all apps so the windows OS is the same as all version meaning it's not optimized like ChromeOS. You can't factory reset it in minutes. The OS updates are seamless like on Chrome OS. These are the keys to ChromeOS success. Hell, MS is making special versions of Office 365 for Chrome OS and most schools are fine with Googles version of the apps. This isn't going to work. Sorry everyone.

    • VancouverNinja

      In reply to Nicholas Kathrein:

      The issue is not Chrome OS vs Windows 10 but rather Windows 10 Cloud. We do not know anything about it at this point; probably best to wait and understand what and how Windows 10 Cloud is going to work. With that being said if it provides what classrooms need on cheap ARM based pc's - I would say Google is going to get zipped pretty hard. I always wonder why the battle over schools though; it has no power to sway businesses off of their primary platform as the next generation of working class emerges. It did not help Apple in the space. Most likely it is just wrong for MS not to pursue it. Murphy's law would probably kick in on them.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to VancouverNinja:

        Windows Cloud might eventually provide most of what Chrome OS does, but would it on 2 May 2017? I suppose if Edge did everything Chrome does, maybe it'd provide all the online functionality Chrome OS does. As for offline use, neither the Chrome Store nor the Windows Store are all-you-could-want emporia. OTOH, and I find this perversely amusing, DOSBox runs offline under Chrome OS, and it runs QBASIC and some other character mode programming IDEs just fine. Unfortunately, DOSBox appears to be available only for Windows phones, though that could change.

    • cayo

      In reply to Nicholas Kathrein:


      What ChromeOS success are we talking about here? Let's not start with anecdotal 'my grandmother is 84 and happy with her Chromebook' evidence.


      I think it was Einstein who said that everything should be as simple as it can be, but not simpler. It becomes useless. This is why outside the cash-strapped US school districts these devices are pretty much unknown anywhere in the world.


      Kids grow up, go to college or start working. And they use Windows or Mac, Word and Excel, just like everybody else. And no, they will not buy Chromebooks to their kids. They don't want them.

      • Tony Barrett

        In reply to cayo:

        Our kids love the Chromebook. We have a Windows laptop too, and guess which one they always pick up first? A browser can do 98% of what they need. All their schoolwork/homework is online, learning tools etc. They just don't need Windows anymore.

        • cayo

          In reply to Tony Barrett:


          All kids grow up. As adults, they will need Word and Excel as much as they need a web browser. They need MS Office for college, and it is free for them. As office employees, they will also need Office, and it comes pre-installed on all work computers. They need several other applicatiuons A browser is just one of them.




      • Nicholas Kathrein

        In reply to cayo: what success?
        https://www.google.com/amp/s/9to5mac.com/2017/03/02/apple-ios-market-share-k-12-education-chrome-os/amp/

        In the us k through 12.
        In the US, Chrome OS managed to grow to 58% market share in 2016 up from 50% a year earlier, while iOS dropped to 14%, down from 19% in 2015, and macOS dropped to 5% share, down from 6.
        The report cites the price point of Chromebooks along with Google’s education software offerings as major contributors to its growth, as well as a focus on 2-in-1 products by both Microsoft and Google. 


        • cayo

          In reply to Nicholas Kathrein:


          So you confirm exactly what I said:


          "Outside the cash-strapped US school districts these devices are pretty much unknown anywhere in the world."




          • Nicholas Kathrein

            In reply to cayo:

            You got to start somewhere. Google has captured 58% from 0% in what 5 years or so? Yeah. Not a big deal or amazing.

            • cayo

              In reply to Nicholas Kathrein:


              You do understand that the U.S. accounts for approx 85 percent of Chromebook sales overall? And most of these are being bought by US school boards, installed in classrooms and poor kids are then forced to use them. These kids don't use them at home. They had a chance to see that Chromebook is a laughable attempt to turn a web browser into an operating system.


              There is no chance that they will use them at college. Or at work.


              Outside the US schools, Chromebooks obviously do not sell well. They hardly sell at all. Just a couple of million a year worldwide. With the schools not likely to buy them again every year...it makes sense to say that market for these devices is probably already saturated.


              My buddy still uses a Windows Phone. Says he does not need apps; web browser is all he needs. I guess this means some people can live with Chromebook as well. There is not many of you however.

          • hrlngrv

            In reply to cayo:

            You logic seems a bit flawed. Why would MSFT jettison its presumably profitable portion of the worldwide ex-US education software market to chase Chromebooks out of the cash-strapped, so presumably not particularly profitable, US education software market?

            • cayo

              In reply to hrlngrv:


              Just for the fun of it, to deliver another nail in the coffin. They are returning a favor to Google.


              Google helped Windows Mobile die by not writing apps for it. MS are now doing the same. There will never be MS Office for desktop Linux and Chrome OS... Guaranteed failure. The day a kid graduates from high school is the last day he/she touches ChromeOS...


              And no, G Suite will not save ChromeOS. Just like Here/Bing Maps could not save WM.



              • hrlngrv

                In reply to cayo:

                Another nail in the coffin? Google is about to cease Chrome OS development? OEMs are about to cease making Chromebooks, the segment of the microcomputer market with the highest year-to-year growth derived, per your beliefs, entirely from the US education sector. Imagine that!

                MSFT tried hurting Chromebooks a few years ago with its Pawn Stars ads. Didn't work.

                As for Windows phones, MSFT needs Google to write apps for it? MSFT couldn't write apps for its own phone OS? If true, MSFT was already dead in mobile in 2010, so their efforts since then were just wasted money. So sad. MSFT used to have competent management.

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