Android on Chromebook Edges From Fantasy Into Reality

Posted on August 24, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Cloud, Mobile with 74 Comments

Android on Chromebook Edges From Fantasy Into Reality

Google’s plan to bring Android apps and the Google Play Store has remained largely unfulfilled to date. But this summer, suddenly, Android support on Chromebook has accelerated. And it’s possible that Google has finally gotten on top of the problems that have plagued this integration.

It started off so promising.

Google announced in May 2016 that it would bring Android apps and the Google Play Store to Chromebook. At the time, it said that the integration would occur in 2016, but by the time that year ended, only a tiny number of Chromebooks could access Android apps, and then only in a very early preview. A year later, I questioned whether Google could even pull off this feat, and I openly wondered about the technical issues it must have run into.

But Google eventually fessed up: The work of integrating Androids apps with Chromebook proved to be far more difficult than Google had originally expected.

Lost in all the doom and gloom here, however, is a simple fact: Integrating Android apps with Chromebooks is highly disruptive, and it could lead to the quickening decline of Windows-based PCs. So I’ve been watching this development closely, and I have recently finally started testing Android app support on an Acer Chromebook 14 for Work. Surprise: It’s pretty amazing despite the bugs.

Coincidental to this, it appears that Android app support on Chromebook is finally starting to accelerate. This takes a few different forms: Some new devices are finally getting access to Android apps and the Google Play Store via the pre-release Beta channel that Google offers (similar to a ring in the Windows Insider Program. But many are shifting from the Beta channel to the Stable channel too, indicating that Google may have finally figured this out.

Over the summer, Google added support for Android to over a dozen different Chromebooks. And according to separate reports in Android Police and Chrome Unboxed, the Acer Chromebook R13, ASUS Chromebook Flip C302, Dell Chromebook 3189, EduGear R4D, Lenovo Chromebook Flex 11, Lenovo Chromebook N22, Lenovo Chromebook N23, and Lenovo IdeaPad N42 Chromebook all have Android support in the Stable channel now, meaning that this support is available to everyone. And the Dell Chromebook 13 7310 and Acer Chromebook 14 now have access to Android in the Beta channel too.

So is it happening? Is it finally happening?

Looking over Google’s list of Chromebooks that do or will have access to Android apps and the Google Play Store, the availability of this functionality breaks down as follows:

Available in Stable channel: 12 Chromebooks
Available in Beta channel: 20 Chromebooks
Planned but not yet available: 65 Chromebooks

Put another way, the majority of Chromebooks out in the world do not yet have access to Android apps. But there are over 30 Chromebook models that can access this functionality today, and of course all new Chromebooks now and going forward will offer it too. The situation has improved dramatically since last year, for sure, but it’s also improved markedly just since the beginning of the summer.

And with that, it’s time to switch from the current “nothing to see here” mode and accept that the Chromebook threat to Windows is real. It’s also time to wake up and acknowledge that Windows 10 S, as currently designed, represents the weakest possible response that Microsoft could have offered. And unless and until this situation changes, I expect Chromebooks, and other Chrome OS devices, to continue eating into Windows 10’s usage and market share. This is Microsoft’s market to lose.

 

Tagged with , ,

Join the discussion!

BECOME A THURROTT MEMBER:

Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Register
Comments (74)

74 responses to “Android on Chromebook Edges From Fantasy Into Reality”

  1. red.radar

    I think what will happen is these chrome books will remove the consumer market first. I think there are too many productivity tools written for win32 that will help be a firewall for the enterprise space. And windows still provides a better setup for devices that need I/O


    But I have to agree this does look ominous and intriguing.


    I have to wonder if Windows provides any value to the cloud first strategy of Microsoft. Maybe they should just sunset the business and bring Office to Linux or continue to improve the web client / mobile apps. Windows really has to be a mature but declining business for Microsoft.


    • hrlngrv

      In reply to red.radar:

      Large enterprises using Citrix, VMWare or similar remote application foundations haven't needed Windows (or any other particular OS) running on local machines for at least a decade and a half. Large enterprises willing fully to embrace remote computing, and consequently commit to the required level of network ubiquity and reliability, could have local machines running anything. Local machines running little more than a browser to connect to remote servers could become the new normal.

      Win32 software has a long future on Windows servers. How long a future it has on local devices is murkier.

  2. polymath

    Some one pointed out, any "personal computer" with a chrome browser - is - a "chrome book",,


    log into the chrome browser with your google account and it will have the extensions and links that your Chromebook has.~


    chrome browser is portal into google app's which are web based, and in the case of Education and now Commerce its the management of those chrome browsers on chrome books or "personal computers" that is equally or more important.


    Insted of jumping onto android people should be writing web page based services, not only chrome but any other browser from desk tops, laptops and mobile phones could use the web page,, 1 page,, not code written for windows, mac os, ios mobile, android, etc...


    Maybe the addition of 4G to Chromebooks would be a good idea,, the main bottleneck with Chromebooks with domestic networks, the down speed/bandwidth is much faster than the up speed, in order to process big data in servers you need to be able to upload it, 4G upload speeds can be much faster.


    We will probably see this when Microsoft brings there ARM based with 4G LTE "personal computers" with x86 emulators and windows 10 ( maybe S), out in the "fall"


    Just before Microsoft bought and closed down Nokia mobile, Nokia said all there series 40 phone, maybe 1.5 Bn, had a java browser, they were about to bring to market with simple tools that any one could use a web application generator so you cold have web applications served to all those phones...

    • mikiem

      In reply to polymath:

      "Insted of jumping onto android people should be writing web page based services, not only chrome but any other browser from desk tops, laptops and mobile phones could use the web page,, 1 page,, not code written for windows, mac os, ios mobile, android, etc..."


      Makes sense to me, but then it also made sense for Android devs to port their apps to the Windows store too. Instead we've seen the opposite.

  3. skane2600

    Being able to run Android apps makes a nice addition to the feature list but does it really add key functionality to Chromebooks that makes it a more significant competitor to Windows? I doubt it. What missing capabilities will Android apps add?

    • longhorn

      In reply to skane2600:

      Mobile games?

      To be honest, I think Google is a bit confused. They are good at building services, but they have two platforms that both leave much to be desired. Google brings Android apps to Chromebooks because they don't know what else to do. Maybe it's the right thing to do, but it's still mobile apps... on a laptop form factor.


      Android is a fragmented platform, which has to do with the fragmented ARM platform. Google tried to solve it with a virtual machine type of approach and that's why Android is slow (compared to native Linux or clean versions of Windows).


      According to rumors Google is writing a new OS from the ground up. I wouldn't be surprised if they design hardware for it just like Apple. Android became huge because of great portability (and open source helped too), but performance and quality suffered from not being native to a chip architecture. I think Google is going to make their new OS more like iOS, which only runs on custom hardware. Google is still going to invest in Android to fight off competition while they build their new platform.


      Google wants to build services with ads and subscriptions. Google built Chrome because they had to protect their web services. Google built Android for the same reason. Google's core business is the web. Google makes Chromebooks to protect their web-services. If schools use Windows machines, Microsoft may switch them to Edge, Bing, Skype and Office 365. Google doesn't want that so Google offers Chromebooks.


      My impression is that Google is uninterested in platforms, it's the Google services which are important. If Microsoft's biggest regret is phones, Google's biggest regret is "Facebook". Facebook popped up in Google territory.

    • mikiem

      In reply to skane2600:

      "What missing capabilities will Android apps add?"


      RE: perceptions: there are lots of people who don't want at least some of their stuff anywhere but on their local drive(s), & there's always the problem of uploading larger files -- these folks can now run the software locally, same as with Windows. There are also useful Android apps that aren't duplicated on-line -- you have to have the app installed. When it comes to competing with Windows, Not going to run P/Shop CC on a Chromebook, but if you didn't run P/Shop CC to begin with, an Android app might be just as good as what you were using, maybe better.

      • skane2600

        In reply to mikiem:

        No doubt there are individual Android apps that don't have a web version but how popular are they? How many of those apps don't have many web apps similar in function? The fundamental advantage of local apps vs. web apps is that the latter in general don't work well on phones because of the tiny screens. Once you get a reasonable sized screen that advantage disappears. Beyond that many Android apps aren't really suited for a laptop environment anyway.


        The difference in Windows case is that there are programs that have been around for decades and have become standard for productivity. I would argue there are no such standard apps that are exclusive to Android. For example the most common alternative to MS Office is probably Google apps, but those are web apps, not Android-specific apps.

  4. Ron Diaz

    Chromebooks will not lead to a quickening decline of Windows. Microsoft has done that all by themselves.....

    • Jorge Garcia

      In reply to Hypnotoad:

      It's true, they haven't done themselves too many favors of late, but in fairness, MS is stuck. Win32 was their bread and butter for two decades+, now it is an anchor that will make them hit the seabed soon enough, and one they cannot really detach themselves from easily. I used to sympathize, but after windows 10, I don't.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to JG1170:

        Is there some physical law which prevents MSFT from having multiple OS offerings? Not multiple Windows SKUs, but multiple OSes as they did with Windows 98 and NT4, e.g.

        Actually, MSFT gave it a half-assed attempt with Windows RT, but it made the fatal mistake of using Windows in the name. That produced too many expectations which were contrary to MSFT's goals.

        Win32 software is an asset of immense value to Windows PC users. Shame it has negative value for MSFT these days. Unless MSFT can cajole, con or coerce PC users to abandon Win32, MSFT has to accept that Win32 isn't going anywhere for decades. If MSFT needs something else for non-PC devices, it needs to be something other than Windows and definitely not called Windows.

        • Jorge Garcia

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          They could have, at some point in the past, made a transitional OS but failed, and just like SEGA in the video game battle, no second chance is given. I totally agree that RT was not a bad product direction, but the naming and the fact that it looked just like standard windows meant it was doomed. But even if it had been a success, it is mobile that doomed MS. After losing mobile, they have no mindshare with normal people in 2017, so they are stuck with whatever they can squeeze out of good old Win32, which admittedly is still a lot (in the slow-to-move business world, at least).

          • hrlngrv

            In reply to JG1170:

            I understand the perspective which believes mobile presence is necessary, but I don't share it. I also understand that PCs and microcomputers generally (including tablets which can be used as computers, and possibly also phones which could so be used) are stagnant at best, though possibly declining while smartphones are still growing, though at a more sedate rate than previously.

            MSFT is in business to make money. They can do so with PCs and servers, but today they can only lose money on their own mobile OS, phones and small tablets unable to run desktop/Win32 software. At the moment, I'm not convinced there's any clear path for MSFT to make money in mobile other than from apps and services used by Andoid phones and tablets and iPhones and iPads.

            It's a shame MSFT didn't buy Blackberry rather than prop up Nokia a few years ago. Blackberry's BES would have been a better match with MSFT's own skills and enterprise focus. It would have been a nearly pure enterprise gambit, but I'm not sure MSFT ever had a chance with consumers. BES, encryption, and not being Google could have given MSFT a lock on the security end of mobile. Maybe not enough, but more than it has today.

            • Jorge Garcia

              In reply to hrlngrv:

              Mobile presence is the ONLY place that matters moving forward (outside of Enterprise, for now). MS missed the mobile mindshare boat, and it is evident that there is no building of a third ecosystem. There simply is no room. I use this analogy a lot...SEGA made some of the best video games and consoles, but when Microsoft (X-box division) and Sony both decided to get in the battle, there was no room left for SEGA and they floundered. (Nintendo only persists because of their quirky and unique IP and hardware) Windows is now in the same boat as SEGA. No room in the market for a third player who offers the same thing. Paul himself says this all the time.

  5. polymath

    Android on Chromebooks is a step BACKWARDS yet another block of code and apps to maintain, crazy!


    the way forward lies with web pages combined with webASM, progressive web apps & web hardware.


    then your one web page would "run" on Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Google chrome browsers on any platform or operating system those browsers were implemented on ...


    Look forward,, not BACKWARDS


    maybe google should put a moving hard drive and a dvd drive in future chrome books so we could watch all those dvd movies,, mabye a centronics port so you could use all those old printers again? Android is the past, like windows 7 is the past, we need to move forwards....

    • skane2600

      In reply to polymath:

      Having all programs run on all platforms flawlessly has been a pipe dream for at least 40 years and it will always remain one.

      • polymath

        In reply to skane2600:

        ok, web browser based with webasm & web hardware will not cover 100% of all app's now running on windows, os x, linux etc.


        However its my belief that maybe 70% of apps now running written specifically for an existing operating system should be possible to re-write them for browser only operation.


        so in that respect... you are right.

  6. mike moller

    To me an indicator of how far Chromebook is progressing is that in a forum like this we are no longer having our patience tried by idiot posts like "it's just a web browser and not a real computer"

  7. conan007

    "And unless and until this situation changes, I expect Chromebooks, and other Chrome OS devices, to continue eating into Windows 10’s usage and market share."


    Hmm, just like Bing is eating into Google's usage and market share (recall the recent Bing is bigger than you thought article)?

    • polymath

      In reply to conan007: "...Chrome OS devices, to continue eating into Windows 10’s.."
      you could say android or apple ios are "eating into windows 10", people are moving away from big operating system support. Chromebooks are just another system.

      with broad band internet now avilable on 4G, the new windows arm machines running the x86 emulation will be a new generation of always connected phones, tablets & convertibles.

      We are simply in a transition phase from towers/crt >> laptop/lcd >> tablets/pens convertibles

      (Having said that android 7 or 8? is 5GB in size, so that 16GB tablet will only have 9 GB of space for photos music apps etc.)


  8. mikiem

    Well, Play has apps -- LOTS of 'em. The Windows 10 store, not so much. The Android experience we're used to on our phones includes easy app install & removal, with OS version updates delivered as a replacement image installed during a reboot. [I talk about Android vs. Chrome because more are experienced with Android.] Windows 10 version updates can arguably seem Rube Goldbergian in comparison, while non-store app installation can be byzantine with complete removal most often impossible.


    Yes, some of that is Apple vs. Oranges. Google is hardware ignorant -- Microsoft is anything but. Google relies on device manufacturers to handle the hardware meets software end of things, so OS version updates, while more rare, & often nonexistant, are already tailored to the device, with actual installation more about transferring settings & apps. Microsoft tried the replacement image approach, & gave it up. 


    Over the long term Android is just easier, though that's very often only on the surface, as manufacturers decline to develop new versions incorporating security-related fixes, which can lead to all sorts of problems. Microsoft should have the edge here, with security fixes available for every device running a still supported version of the OS, but the weak link is people... that facet of Windows superiority isn't heavily advertised, far too many don't install those fixes, and [thankfully] cybercriminals have lagged [out of laziness?] moving from Windows to Android.


    Perhaps Microsoft will solve whatever problems, returning to an image-based OS version update procedure, and develop that into something rivaling what Google's OSes offer. While IMHO the odds are against it, perhaps Microsoft will evolve the tech used to bring win32 apps into the store, making that sandboxing occur with every software installation [rather than just for apps in the store]. However, even if Windows was made comparible to Android in those respects, it'd mean little or nothing unless people are convinced, including all those who refuse to install fixes today. Perceptions do matter, & I believe that's where Microsoft will win or lose on devices with 12" or larger screens, e.g. Chomebooks with apps. But there's a twist...


    The cartoon "Dilbert" is successful because it models the real world. Competency, ethics, & just being willing to work are not givens. To win, Microsoft has to convince most of the clones of Dilbert's boss & CEO out there. It's doing some of that now with their cloud products/services, making them available, & usable for the laziest when it comes to work &/or learning. They need to do that re: administering [including updating] devices with 10 or 10 S or whatever version. Part of that is making the update & upgrade experience comparible to what we're used to with Android. 


    Making more of the update process run in the background, longer, is the wrong direction on the lower powered devices we're talking about -- so is leaving GBs of data behind, requiring another long round of processing to get rid of. Update/upgrades that break stuff have never been more unacceptable. Updates that replace just those files that need replacing is *in one way* more efficient. but when it takes much longer it's Less efficient overall. This aspect may improve if Microsoft succeeds making Windows more modular -- I just wonder if they've got that long to wait... Google certainly isn't biding their time getting apps & IT management working with Chromebooks.


  9. Waethorn

    Just in case you missed it: they found that the dev/canary channel has the Play Store even running on Bay Trail Chromebooks, and they were scheduled to be some of the last models to be updated. This means that Google is likely going to start mass rollouts to the rest of the pending models very soon.

  10. Jorge Garcia

    Google doesn't get it. Nerds like us can switch from one OS/desktop interface to another and find our way around. But I know a ton of "normal" people who spent years struggling with Windows PC's until one marvelous day mobile OS's in the form of iOS and Android arrived and "saved" them from themselves. Those people are simply not interested in any more learning curves, and ChromeOS, simple as it may be, has a LEARNING CURVE, especially when you go and spackle Android App support over it in a hackish way as Google has. The answer is, and has been, a version of Android (or iOS for that matter) that splits the difference between your mobile phone experience and that of a real laptop. Apple gets this, but because of their stubborn refusal to include basic things like mouse/cursor/trackpad support and REAL ports, they're shooting themselves in the foot (for now). iOS 11 forces you to learn swipes and gestures to compensate for that lack of some basic I/O and device support, and that's a non-starter for many normies. Samsung is not dumb, though. I predict that Samsung will attempt to make their DeX interface a mainstream thing, and I begrudingly support that, because at least THAT has a lot of potential for getting normal people off of their tiny phones and back onto laptops/desktops.

    • Monica Cross

      In reply to JG1170:

      I signed up for an account solely to respond to your comment, because someone has to say it: NO, it's not just Google that doesn't get it. YOU & other pro-Google nerds like you DO NOT GET IT.


      As one of those "normal" people, accepting the gift of a brand new Chromebook was an extremely bad decision, & this piece of crap is going in the garbage--where it BELONGS--the second I scrounge up enough money to get a functioning, high-quality laptop.


      Here's what YOU AND GOOGLE don't get: normal people DO NOT want to deal with a device that deliberately hides all of its settings & forces you to go through a highly-complicated maze to find anything whatsoever. Normal peoples duped in believing false advertising about how great the Chromebook is & how wonderful it is to have such a sleek laptop "optimized" for the Internet will get the extremely disappointing reality check I got: a Chromebook's wifi capabilities are shockingly inferior to its Microsoft & Apple competitors. A device that takes 20+ min to update & does so at random is better than the Chromebook--which ALSO FORCIBLY updates your system against your will, ALWAYS causes brand new problems each time it updates, & DROPS YOUR WIFI CONNECTION 20-30 times per minute!!!

    • Hunter Diederichs

      In reply to JG1170:

      "Those people are simply not interested in any more learning curves, and ChromeOS, simple as it may be, has a LEARNING CURVE, especially when you go and spackle Android App support over it in a hackish way as Google has. The answer is, and has been, a version of Android (or iOS for that matter) that splits the difference between your mobile phone experience and that of a real laptop."


      Isn't this basically what Google's magenta, fuchsia, and armadillo/capybara are shaping up to be? It's a scalable design system designed for systems along a wide range of devices, with an underlying backend shell that has multiple different frontends for different form factors? With an underlying kernel and OS that works the same across these form factors? It basically seems to be the whole ChromeOS/Android merger done from the ground up as it's own OS to avoid all the hackery.


      I mean sprinkle android support into Fuchsia -which should be far easier than it was with chromebooks- for backwards compatibility, and you've got a laymans OS that can scale between form factors, automagically groups the apps that the user is using together, lets them find tasks based on nouns and verbs rather than icons and apps, and just straight up simplifies the whole UX to it's most basic form.

      • Jorge Garcia

        In reply to Hunter_Diederichs:

        Yes, I believe that is accurate, but that moon-shot project is still years from fruition. I will always believe that had Google, say back in 2013 or so, made a fork of Android that "somewhat" competed with Windows on laptops, they would have scored BIG. Normal people don't like a computer that says no, and Chromebooks say no a lot. If they could just go to the play store and download what they know and love they'd be happy, even if many apps were un-optimized and only opened in a tall and skinny windows. It'd be a start. Some companies totally got the concept, but were too early and niche...most notably the brilliant Motorola Atrix.

    • Inspector Gadget

      In reply to JG1170:

      Diversity is nice with solid OS work from Microsoft Apple and Google but could someone just get on and get it working right! JG1170 agree Apple are so close with IOS but those missing basic things are so frustrating (please I'd settle for being able to add a mouse!) . Android fragmentation what a mess vs IOS.and Windows 10 utilising touch with ready keyboard mouse use on small PCs is great but the frustration of opening your laptop in a cafe to find it's doing 20 minutes of updates makes you want to throw your small laptop on the floor!

      • Monica Cross

        In reply to Inspector Gadget:

        Personally, I'd prefer the PC to the Chromebook. Why?

        PC: forcibly updates for 20 min, usually doesn't add new problems with each update, sometimes fixes bugs created by its previous updates, retains ability to connect to wifi.

        Chromebook: also forcibly updates (though it only takes a few min), adds new problems to your device after each update, never fixes bugs created by its previous updates, drops wifi connections a rate of 20-30 times per minute from the very beginning.


        Don't misunderstand me here: I'm not a fan of the PC, especially Windows 10. I love the Android OS--it's awesome! Between the PC & Android, I would always choose the Android without hesitation.


        But Chrome OS is an entirely different story. Between the PC & Chrome OS, it would be a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils. And between those two, the PC does not have nearly as many problems as the Chrome OS does. Chrome OS is inferior to its competitors in every sense of the term & grossly misrepresented as being absolute perfection.

      • Jorge Garcia

        In reply to Inspector Gadget:
        1. Microsoft has the right idea, but cannot implement due to no mobile mindshare and anchored to Win32, and yes, their love for hellish updating (that they will pay DEARLY for).
        2. Apple has the right direction but too costly (niche market) and stubborn dogmas about what can and can't be in a mobile PC.
        3. Google has all the ingredients to make Android-as-a-desktop interface good, but they went down the wrong road with ChromeOS and don't seem to get what normal people want.
        • hrlngrv

          In reply to JG1170:

          Re #2, how can Apple have the right direction but be afflicted by stubborn dogmas? You need to expand upon that.

          Re #3, Chrome OS and Android aren't the same thing, similar to macOS and iOS differing. Chrome OS is meant to be one vector into the future, the purely web-centered vector. Android is something else. That Chrome OS can run Android apps is a plus, but it's an open question how important it is.

          • Jorge Garcia

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            I believe that Apple understands that MacOS (like Windows) is too much OS for the millions of people that have now become accustomed to the trouble-free, thought-free nature of mobile devices. They are starving MacOS, and building up iOS 11, which to me is the right way to go...but they shoot themselves in the foot by not offering some basic things that a good percentage of people would expect a convertible tablet/faux laptop to have. If they could build out a fork of iOS that worked "kind of" like MacOS, with windowed apps and trackpad support, and put it in a very slim book (the Apple iBook) I predict that would sell like CRAZY, especially to millennials who are too lazy and undisciplined for full OS's.

          • Jorge Garcia

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            You're right, #3 was missing words and context. i'll reword that.

  11. UbelhorJ

    I'm glad you guys bagging on Android and dismissing Android on Chrome aren't in charge of Microsoft. I have a Chromebook with app support, and it's improved in leaps and bounds in a short period of time. Not all Android apps work or make sense on a laptop form factor, but those that do can really fill in the gaps for what Chrome alone can't do. Google still has work to do, but it has serious potential. Just a few more tweaks and I could leave my Windows desktop turned off most days, and I think most normal people could use it as their main machine.

  12. John Scott

    I have used Chromebooks from the early days. I think of a couple people who don't know how to avoid malware and had me performing a exorcism on their PC many times could benefit from avoiding a lot of this with a Chromebook. Its why schools at least in the US seem to like them. Cheap, secure, manageable and you can trust that kids won't be installing stuff they should not.

    But obviously if your set on using iTunes, or a favorite tax software, or Google gives you the creeps and you certainly cannot install a different browser. Well then, maybe a Chromebook is not for you. Considering Chromebooks outsold Mac's at least one quarter maybe its Apple who should also take notice?

    • Stooks

      In reply to John_Scott:

      "Considering Chromebooks outsold Mac's at least one quarter maybe its Apple who should also take notice?"


      So Apple is focused on selling premium hardware with a high margin. Google is not selling hardware or at least for 99% of the Chromebooks out there, but they are getting your data....to sell. The hardware makers are making a few pennies off of the cheap Chromebook hardware.

      • John Scott

        In reply to Stooks: But in the end Apple loses a potential customer if people are happy with a Chromebook just as much as a PC maker doesn't lose a customer selling them a Chromebook and not a Windows PC. It's not just about making money off the hardware, anymore then gaming consoles make money off the hardware. If your expanding the ecosystem your gaining users and that's important.


  13. jrickel96

    So some very poorly programmed apps are coming to Chromebook? They will eat the battery of your Chromebook, not run well full screen, hijack the system processes, and provide for a truly terrible experience, just like they do on native Android.


    No one likes Android, they just feel forced to use it. I work with a lot of 20 year old college students who all joke about how lame Chromebooks are for getting any real work done. While they have noticed an uptick in sales, what is not recorded is how many are returned and how that is reported. Chromebooks are the #1 returned tech item, but the sales are not removed when they are returned. More than TVs, PC laptops, phones, game systems, etc, Chromebooks are returned.


    Are they a threat? Sure. But are they are a real threat in major industries like medicine? No. HIPAA compliance is still a thing and Google is terrible with it. Are they a threat in government? No. Security is a thing and they are terrible with it. Are they a threat with lawyers? Not really. Lawyers need security as well and they stink.


    Chromebook has more hope to be less fragmented than Android, but Android apps are still going to be fragmented and Android is garbage.


    I beta tested apps across Android phones last year for a project and found that even two stock Samsung Galaxy S7s could not reliably run the same app at all times. Run it on any iOS device and it ran on them all without issue. But I had to test a myriad of Android devices to find little things that prevented the app from working across the board.


    Android is a dead platform. It is going to continue to sell well for now because no other options exist, but when the smartphone is superceded by something else, Android will fall by the wayside for something better. It may be from Apple. It may be from MS. It may be an OS with more consistency that Google themselves builds.

  14. Neville Bagnall

    I'm old enough for ChromeOS+Android vs. Windows 10 to evoke déjà vu. To me it has all the hallmarks of the DOS+Windows vs. OS/2 battle of the 90's. A technically cleaner solution from the enterprise favourite being undercut by a mashup of a solution from the enterprise "newcomer".

    And just like with IBM, I think it is the final nail in the coffin of Microsoft as a Platform Company.

    • jrickel96

      In reply to Neville Bagnall:

      Nothing like it. Windows and especially NT were much better built than Android. No one will use Android for legit business purposes if they truly need reliability. They may use it for support for work by using apps like Slack, etc. But their core business won't run on something so insecure and unpredictable.


      Most major industries with any need for security require the use of an iPhone for any sensitive data. Hospitals can only use iPads or Windows based tablets for patient input because Google has done nothing for HIPAA compliance that satisfies them. Apps do not run reliable between different phone models and often have trouble on the same devices from manufacturers. This was not the case with Windows.


      And I'd argue that OS/2 was not superior at all once NT 3.51 came out. I supported OS/2 for IBM when I was a teenager. IT was a pain for any average user to install drivers. Microsoft aimed to make things more user friendly whereas IBM was very callous to how the average user would interact. I really loved OS/2 at the time, but NT was a superior product by the time we arrived at the mid-90s.


      And even during that time, Windows was no where near as fragmented as Android is. Are you running the Samsung version? The LG version? M, N, L? How easily can an app compromise memory management and CPU usage?


      Fact is that very few people really like Android. They do like the apps, not the OS. True, same can be said for Windows in the past, but Windows was far more predictable and reliable. And in the US, Android is hardly dominate. It's pretty much 50/50 with the iPhone and the iPhone is a far, far superior product while iOS is also far better at just about everything.

  15. hrlngrv

    If MSFT needs a true response to Chrome OS, it's not Windows 10 S which is inadequate, it's Edge tied to Windows's update cycle. The Chrome browser at the core of Chrome OS is updated every 6 weeks or so. Edge is further behind and would presumably need a faster updates to catch up.

    If MSFT can't disconnect Edge from Windows in terms of update cycle, MSFT has already lost to Chrome OS if this is a battle MSFT needs to win.

  16. Daniel Gomes

    Great article Paul. A good point well made, as they say.

    If Google have pulled this off a lot of people will be buying Chromebooks instead of more expensive Windows PC's, attracted by the lower price yet large software market. Mostly in the consumer and education space I would have thought, where they don't have the application lock-in of business.

    • SvenJ

      In reply to Maverick: In reply to Maverick: Windows PC are not inherently more expensive. Certainly there are dirt cheap Chromebooks, but there are dirt cheap windows devices as well. If we look at things that are comparable the prices are comparable. Lets look at one of those Chromebooks called out above, at Amazon.

      hromebook Flip C302CA-DHM4 12.5-Inch Touchscreen Intel Core m3 with 64GB storage and 4GB RAM  - $499

      Now look at a comparable windows machine from the same company with roughly the same features.

      enBook Flip UX360CA-UBM1T 13.3-inch Touchscreen Convertible Laptop Core m3 8GB DDR3 256GB SSD with Windows 10   - $553

      You get twice the RAM, 4 times the storage, and Windows, for around $50, more. There are certainly reasons to want a ChromeOS device, but cost savings isn't the driving factor anymore, unless you are focused on cheap...not inexpensive...cheap. You can buy a cheap Windows PC too.


      • Waethorn

        In reply to SvenJ:

        Are you kidding me? Best Buy Canada has the ZenBook Flip at **$300 more** - and it's an OPEN BOX.


        http://www.bestbuy.ca/en-ca/product/asus-12-5-touchscreen-chromebook-intel-m3-6y30-64-gb-emmc-4gb-ram-chrome-os-c302ca-dhm4/10660846.aspx?


        http://www.bestbuy.ca/en-ca/product/asus-asus-zenbook-flip-13-3-touchscreen-laptop-intel-core-m3-6y30-256gb-ssd-8gb-ddr3-ram-open-box-ux360ca-bbm1-cb-gr/10538256.aspx?

      • Tony Barrett

        In reply to SvenJ:

        But the user experience on a 'dirt cheap' Chromebook will be an order of magnitude better than Win10 on a low end device. Chromebooks have always only needed relatively low spec hardware for a good experience. Dual-core Celeron with 2GB RAM? No problem. Try running Win10 on that, and then apply one of those regular, massive patches. You'll know what pain is!

  17. Stooks

    Paul is so hot on this Google stuff. Then again Paul could probably get away with just a Chromebook because he writes for a blog.


    I think Chromebooks are fine, and offer some good value provided they work for you. If you need just ONE locally installed application, whether that is on Windows, Mac or even Linux then Chromebooks are NOT for you. Right there at least 50% of computers users are NOT going to be able to use just a Chromebook. They will need something else and at that point why even bother with a Chromebook?


    Android apps on Chromebooks............so what? On smartphones or tablets most people use applications for consumption or light creation/work. Why? Either the form factor is not good/ideal say smartphone or the applications are lacking and lacking in many ways.


    Example - If you had to use a big/complex spreedsheet on a regular basis the BEST order in terms of best device would be.....Windows with real Excel, then Excel on a Mac, then Excel in a browser on any computer, then a mobile app. I own both a Pixel and a iPhone. I find that for the most part Apps on iOS are of better quality than the Android versions. This is especially true of Microsoft apps. I have a Pixel C at work for testing and the Microsoft apps on it are the worst versions of the Microsoft apps. Onenote goes off the screen, there are odd bugs in Excel and Word etc, etc.


    My point is a Chromebook running Android apps would be the very worst way to run apps like the Microsoft apps. Just get a Windows computer, a cheap one and the experience increases in quality by 1000%


    If you work for a company that is all in with Google, G-suit, and your job consists of email, web browsing and Google doc work, then yes a Chromebook is perfect for you and hey maybe the occasional Android app on ChromeOS to fill in a application gap??


    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Stooks:

      Picky, but Chrome OS machines can be switched to developer mode, crouton installed, then Linux installed. Granted not as secure as Chrome OS in standard mode, but more secure than Windows 10 Home/Pro using default single user configuration. Thus, for those who NEED it, Chrome OS machines can also become Linux machines when needed.

      • Stooks

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        The second you go into developer mode and install Linux the other big advantage "Stupid Simple" is gone from a Chromebook. Also most of them have weak hardware so running a full OS on a Celeron computer with 2-4gigs of RAM and a 32gig hard drive is not something anyone wants to do.


        Chromebooks are cheap, simple and secure since it is really just a browser. You can wipe them quickly and login. They are great right up until you need just one application you can't run or duplicate and then they are a waste of time and money. They are essentially a Android tablet with a permanent keyboard.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to Stooks:

          Adding Linux to Chromebooks is roughly on a par with adding Windows to Macs.

          Linux software as opposed to Windows software runs OK on Chromebooks.

          However, if they're really & truly inadequate, no fears. They'll die off soon enough. OTOH, if they don't die off, maybe they fill a niche MSFT can no longer manage with Windows.

  18. longhorn

    Android must be the worst platform of all time. And now phone apps are coming to Chromebooks. Exciting... Quite depressing actually what people are prepared/forced to use in 2017.


    Ten years ago Windows XP would have been installed on that laptop and it would have been perfectly usable.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to longhorn:

      Android may suck, but it's also now the world's most widely used OS. Kinda like bacteria being the world's greatest life form in terms of numbers of orgamisms and aggregate mass.

      Unlike bacteria, Android gets developer interest just by being #1. Times change. Adapting to change is the only viable long-term strategy.

      • longhorn

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Your reply is funny and makes sense too :) I posted a longer comment in the Standard Comments section.


        I think mobile apps make sense on mobile, but on laptop or desktop form factor webapps and desktop apps make more sense. (Mobile apps became a thing because webapps were not good enough for the original iPhone). The big threat to Windows isn't Chromebooks, but the web. There are still web-services that are Windows only. If those web-services become platform independent then that's a blow to Windows.


        Android will live "forever", but I don't think Android will be Google's main focus after 2025. Google is developing "something better" (hopefully).


        I also want to stress that if Microsoft would put Win32 apps in the Store, Windows would be easy enough for most people to use. No need for Chromebooks, iPads, Android tablets, Linux or other "Windows replacements". Microsoft's stubborness is hurting Windows every day.


        Why is Steam popular? Because Steam offers the best games and an easy way to download, install and play those games. If Microsoft did this for applications, there would be no threat to Windows.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to longhorn:

          . . . if Microsoft would put Win32 apps in the Store . . .

          MSFT could certainly put MSFT's own Win32 apps in the Windows Store. It's be wonderful if they put their own MSFT R Open in the store to show that high-end workplace software could be in the Store and would work as expected in a Store package. That said, I ain't holding my breath.

          As for 3rd party/ISV titles, it's not up to MSFT to put them in the store. There sure hasn't been much interest in the Store from commercial ISVs other than Adobe.

  19. jimchamplin

    So, the biggest question is always... what about the tasks for which will not come to the platform?


    How about PC gaming? Media production? Unless Blizzard ports Overwatch to Android with full keyboard and mouse support, it won’t work. Is Pro Tools coming to Android?

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      How many gaming PCs are there? PC gamers? Do they even get to 5% of PCs in use/PC users? If not, why should Google care? Would media production have higher numbers than gamers?

      If Chrome OS machines even able to run Android can't do enough for most people, don't worry. They'll die off in a few years. OTOH, if 80% of users can make do or even prefer using such machines, adapt or resist, but things may well change.

  20. rameshthanikodi

    So this is cool and all, but so now what people want is Android on their laptops? If Chromebooks can only take off because of Android apps, then what people want is Android, not so much ChromeOS.

    • Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      I think it helps make ChromeOS a more natural jump for many Android owners. Plus the alternative is expecting developers of existing Windows programs to port over the ChromeOS, and we all know how that would go.

      • Stooks

        In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

        What about new developers? Should the develop for just Android or ChromeOS?


        What about Fuchsia, the rumored next Android? Since they killed off the Andromeda, which was going to combine both Android and ChromeOS and now only Fushia is going forward why would you waste anytime developing for ChromeOS? Heck is there any monetary value is developing for ChromeOS?

    • mikiem

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      "...but so now what people want is Android on their laptops? If Chromebooks can only take off because of Android apps, then what people want is Android, not so much ChromeOS."


      My take, purely FWIW, is that that's the way things would have worked out, simply with Android on a bigger screen, except the average Android app didn't fare well on the larger screen. So they made Chrome, using code that did work there. Now whether their on-line only nature was original intent or because there was no other choice, I have no idea, though it doesn't matter really, since it captured a good portion of its market. The addition of apps however allows Chromebooks to expand beyond that market, and at a time when arguably most of the connected world is already using Android apps/games on their phones. Microsoft at least seems pretty convinced it makes sense to most people to use the same apps both places, phone & PC.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      I figure Android support in Chrome OS will be as major (/s) as when OS/2 gained support for Windows 3.x software. It'll matter to a few, but it won't lead to mass adoption.

    • Waethorn

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      Most schools aren't even using the Play Store functionality.

    • John Scott

      In reply to FalseAgent: Its better to add in Android apps then simply switch to Android OS. A lot of vested interest in education that would fall flat if they killed Chrome OS. I think it could be a big advantage given the Android ecosystem already out there. If your using a Android phone even better, this is what Microsoft envisioned with Windows 8 and now 10. Although it never progressed well on the mobile side of things.


  21. mjw149

    I'm really looking forward to the new pixel chromebook - cheapest one yet - to see if they're really embracing this. They've done such crap with tablets, really, anything halfway decent is a win for Google at this point.

  22. Bats

    I disagree with Paul. The Chromebook is not going to lead to the "decline" of Windows PC, as Paul puts it. Paul is such a crafty writer, one has to ask what the definition of "decline" is. Overall, I think that the rise of Chromebooks will make Windows, the operating system, better.


    It seems to me, that people still don't understand the Chromebook. It's not the Chromebook, per se, that is making the impact. The actual Chromebook itself is just hardware and Chrome OS is just operating system. Like I have said for many years, no one cares about operating systems...and that's true. The real meat and potatoes of the Chromebook are the Google apps, that serve as the foundation of the total internet/computing experience. In order for Microsoft to mimic Chromebooks, it has to do what I have been saying for years...improve the Microsoft ecosystem. For Google, it's ecosystem consists of the #1 web browser in the world; the #1 email system in the world; #1 mapping system; and the #1 video sharing system in the galaxy in Youtube. In addition to that, there is Google Photos, Google Drive, G-Suite, Google Play, Cloud Print, etc... and that's just scratching the surface. There is also Chromecast, Nest, and Home. IMO, the partnership between Google and Walmart is huge. If the "Goomart" partnership works, then what reason would anyone ever need to go outside the Google ecosystem? The areas of Work, Play, Entertainment, and commerce are all covered.


    My mom has had 3 Chromebooks in the past few years. She has had this many because of recklessness on her part when it comes to the care of her machine. The first time I gave her the Chromebook I showed her how to use it. The second and third time, I just handed it to her. The familiarity and the ease of use, not only helped her, but help me....I don't have to provide tech support. 


    If you want to extend the "Chromebook experience" to the PC, go right ahead. That's what i did. I don't own a Chromebook, but my 2002 HP Envy 17" Windows 10 PC, 2017 HP Spectre X2, and 2017 HP Envy 27" AiO, are (in effect) Chromebooks. 


    The point of all this isn't to raise Google up on a pedestal. It's to illustrate that Microsoft has to improve Edge and have it on mobile phones. Edge has no chance to succeed on desktop if it's not on Mobile. MSFT has to also improve Outlook, Drive, Maps, and Groove. MSFT even has to improve Office Online, because as it stands now, "G-Suite" has far more features than Office Online. Google Docs can even rival Microsoft Word, thanks to Add-on support, which has been around for years.


    Microsoft Office survived for years, because everyone is so used to the Office Suite ecosystem. However, when it comes to the consumer space, the ecosystem is much larger. Google has covered almost everything, except the need to produce food instantly, like a Star Trek food replicator. All in all, Microsoft has to create an ecosystem where the user will have no need for other products and services because as of now, Microsoft really doesn't have anything. Maybe one can argue that Microsoft does, but no one can disagree with the complexity of their offerings.


    • mikiem

      In reply to Bats:

      "The actual Chromebook itself is just hardware and Chrome OS is just operating system. Like I have said for many years, no one cares about operating systems...and that's true. "


      "That is mainly true except the part where Chrome OS is "lighter", "faster", "more secure", and "has the best updating scheme"... People who use Chrome OS for an extended time and Windows for an extended time will see that on the same hardware Chrome OS is faster. "


      Interesting points... As Nicholas_Kathrein said, it's the overall experience of using the device that everyone sees. OTOH the speed & security are to a Very Large extent dependent on the manufacturer. Does the company that branded the device write & provide good, & update Windows drivers? Does the company spend more or less time, or make any effort at all to develop images when Chrome's updated? FWIW, my experience with Neverware VMs doesn't show any real speed advantages starting up etc. over similarly configured Windows VMs.


      "All in all, Microsoft has to create an ecosystem where the user will have no need for other products and services because as of now, Microsoft really doesn't have anything. Maybe one can argue that Microsoft does, but no one can disagree with the complexity of their offerings."


      Check out some of the articles on petri[.]com ... Microsoft is making lots of changes to improve the enterprise admin & user experience. They've either tried, have, or are trying to put many pieces of the ecosystem you refer to in place, at the same time focusing on those who mix & match. And at some levels at least, I believe Microsoft does recognize that things as they are, are too complex. Rather than disagree I'm just saying wait & see how successful they are, or aren't, and if any improvements are in time. Put another way, there's still plenty of time for Google to have another success like G+. ;)

    • Nicholas Kathrein

      In reply to Bats:

      I agree to most of your points but not the main one. Your saying the OS doesn't matter and it's the apps. That is mainly true except the part where Chrome OS is "lighter", "faster", "more secure", and "has the best updating scheme". Most people don't notice this on Chrome because it just works. They do notice on WIndows all the reboots for updates and the screens telling you it's updating. please don't turn off the computer. Google has reboot notifications but it shuts down crazy fast and boots up crazy fast with no updating loading screens. This is Chrome OS and not an App thing. People who use Chrome OS for an extended time and Windows for an extended time will see that on the same hardware Chrome OS is faster. That updates don't nag them to reboot and take 5 or 10 minutes on an updating screen in between shutting down and booting back up.


      Yes it's the apps but it's the OS as well.

  23. polymath

    ever heard of something called time? windows 10, released to manufacture >>July 15<< , 2015; 2 years ago

    two years total,, 700 days and your asking developers and users alike to snap there fingers and have come to terms with what this new system means "snap" just like that, amazing.

    Microsoft has tools called bridges, recently announced,, ( was meant to work for android apps, now dose not ) however it will take x86, and apple apps,, munge them into a form for the windows play store... so,,, maybe given time... 6..12 months... we will indeed see apps from x86 and apple making there way across to the humble windows 10 ( maybe S ) operating system. wouldn't that be nice?

Leave a Reply