Google Pixelbook First Impressions

Posted on November 10, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile, Android with 157 Comments

Google Pixelbook First Impressions

This morning, I made an espresso and sat down on the couch in the sun room to read the newspaper, as I always do. Well, not quite as I always do: This time, I was toting the Google Pixelbook, an elegantly-designed new Chromebook convertible that can work like a tablet, instead of the iPad Pro I usually use.

Last night, likewise, I sat in front of the TV in the living room, opened the Pixelbook in a more familiar laptop mode and typed about 1000 words using its surprisingly excellent and backlit keyboard. This type of work is usually—OK, always—done with a Windows PC of some kind, preferably Surface Book.

Earlier yesterday, I spent my obligatory 20 minutes with Duolingo, the language learning app. I normally perform this work on my smartphone, a Pixel 2 XL these days, but this time I used the same Android app, but on the Pixelbook, and I interact with it using the keyboard and mouse.

Previous to all of that, the Pixelbook had arrived in a box, so I opened it up, plugged it in, signed-in to my Google account and watched as the device quickly configured itself with my apps and personalized settings.

And in doing all that, I discovered a few things.

Key among them is that Google’s efforts to meld Chrome OS with Android is starting to come together, finally, and after months and months of delays.

There are absolutely some rough spots. But this combination of previously separate platforms is starting to make sense.

There’s also a very dire warning for Microsoft here.

I’ve long argued that there were two opposing forces at play, with Microsoft trying to simplify Windows and add mobile features like a store and apps platform, and mobile platform makers like Apple and Google racing to mature their products so that they might replace PCs for traditional productivity work.

The question has always centered on which approach makes more sense. Or, more to the point, which approach would win. Would it be easier for Microsoft to simplify an aging, legacy code base while adding a new mobile apps platform on top of that, or would it be easier for Apple/Google to make their mobile platforms more sophisticated?

I’ve argued that the latter was the more achievable, though stilted efforts like the iPad Pro and iOS 11 may suggest that it won’t be as easy as I thought. But Google has come at this problem from another angle, if only because its own iPad Pro-like efforts at Android tablets and 2-in-1s have failed too.

And that other angle is Chrome OS, the once-laughable web browser in a box. Chrome OS has long since shed its early issues, but the addition of the Android apps platform is what puts it over the top. Assuming, again, that they can make it works.

Folks, the Pixelbook proves that they can make it work.

In the future, the arrival of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) in the Microsoft Store may reset this conversation yet again. But as of today, Google’s vision of the post-PC world is the one that makes the most sense. It’s not even close. The combination of the web browser and web apps platform that everyone really wants (Chrome) with the most popular mobile apps platform (Android) is going to be tough to beat.

Of course, the Pixelbook is sort of a new thing, too.

No, this isn’t the first time that Google has foisted a premium Chromebook on the world. But are we finally ready for such a thing? Does the maturation of Chrome OS justify such a product?

The value proposition is clear enough, at least in theory: The new Pixelbook combines the style and versatility—and, yes, the pricing—of Surface Pro with Google’s lightweight Chrome OS and Android app compatibility. Chromebooks are a good idea, and I suspect that most readers would at least acknowledge the usefulness of such a device, if grudgingly.

But premium Chromebooks? That is still unclear. And my Magic 8-Ball is telling me to try again later.

So I’ll fall back on Microsoft’s marketing message for Surface Laptop, which you’ll recall ships with the very limited Windows 10 S. Surface Laptop is very much a premium device, with prices starting at $999, the same starting price as the Pixelbook.

According to Terry Myerson and the good folks on the Surface team, this combination of elegant hardware and the limited—sorry, streamlined—Windows 10 S isn’t arbitrary. They believe that there is a class of user, even in the business space, that values the security and performance promises of this system. And they have telemetry data that shows what software those customers actually use. Their claim, thus, is that Surface Laptop with Windows 10 S will meet the needs of real customers.

That’s also unclear, in my opinion. But Google feels the same way about Chrome OS and Chromebooks. And while previous Chromebook Pixel laptops at least proved that a premium Chromebook was possible, if not necessary, this new Pixelbook arrives at a more auspicious time. The stars are aligning.

So the bet here is that a Pixelbook can do for Chromebooks what Surface does for PCs, and provide an aspirational and premium example of what’s possible. Some customers will hopefully pony up the $1000 or more it requires to fly first class, and I’m sure Google would be happy to take their money. But a bigger audience will more likely see the Pixelbook as proof that this product type has legs. And then they’ll spend less on a more affordable Chromebook. And hopefully do so en masse.

Regardless, the Pixelbook advances our understanding of what a premium Chromebook can be. Unlike its predecessors, which were just laptops, the Pixelbook is a 2-in-1 PC, just like Surface Pro. Well, not just like Surface Pro, as the display doesn’t detach from the keyboard. Instead, it’s a convertible laptop design, like the HP Spectre x360 or the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga. Which means that the display can spin around so that the device can be used as a slightly-thick tablet, or in a tent- or presentation-type form factor.

Folks invested in the PC space get this. We’ve been using 2-in-1s and convertible PCs for years. But these kinds of PCs are somewhat limited in that there isn’t a vibrant mobile apps market that can help us take advantage of these different form factors. With Android app compatibility, being able to transform a laptop into a tablet actually starts to make some sense. It really does.

The Pixelbook has some other potential advantages. It can integrate tightly with your Pixel smartphone, if you have one, or another Android handset. There’s an optional smart pen, which I did not buy. It is thin and light and beautifully designed. It is thoroughly modern, unlike any Surface, with USB-C expandability. It is, arguably, the first truly desirable Chromebook.

The Pixelbook and the platform(s) which it runs are a dire threat to Microsoft and to Windows. And it offers a better transition to the post-PC world than that which Apple still touts with its iPad Pro.

I’m going to use it more. I’m going to see whether my early impressions are supported by more experience, see where the seams of that Chrome OS and Android integration work, and where they fall apart. And I’ll let you know what I find out.


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Comments (157)

157 responses to “Google Pixelbook First Impressions”

  1. Bobby Williams

    Pixelbook is a waste of money.

  2. glenn8878

    The PC category is in decline Pixelbook is a subcategory of Internet notebooks. I just don’t see the threat. This depends more on positioning as a convertible tablet.

  3. MutualCore

    Paul is trying to stir up the old 'Chromebooks will kill Windows' again. Very tiring.

    • PeteB

      In reply to MutualCore:

      It's already happened, kid. Theyve taken over education. The future is chromeOS.

      • skane2600

        In reply to PeteB:

        Macs were very popular in schools back in the day, but it had little impact on market share outside the classroom. With Windows PCs selling greater than an order of magnitude more than Chromebooks it's extremely premature to declare ChromeOS to be the winner.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to skane2600:

          What software was running on those Macs back in the day? Would cost have been a disincentive to carrying on with Macs when leaving high school?

          While Chrome OS isn't the exclusive future of computing, MSFT's own reaction to Chrome OS and Chromebooks is sufficient proof that its growth from negligible to minimal to tiny is a cause for concern to MSFT. How can we outsiders contradict MSFT's assessment about this?

          • skane2600

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            "How can we outsiders contradict MSFT's assessment about this?"

            So, you don't see any miss-assessments by MS in the past? Acquiring Nokia was a good idea? Windows RT devices were a good idea?

            I would argue that MS always makes the biggest mistakes when they believe the "Windows is doomed hype". Netscape was going to kill Windows. Java was going to kill Windows. The fears were unfounded but trying to respond to them got them in a lot of trouble.

            More recently it's been Mobile is going to kill Windows. Now perhaps, it's Chromebooks are going to kill Windows.

            • hrlngrv

              In reply to skane2600:

              I believe MSFT has a keener insight into the threats and challenges which face it than do most MSFT fans. I believe MSFT saw little or no threat from Unix and all its variants back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but I believe MSFT has seen Linux and everything springing from it as threats/challenges since the end of the 1990s. That includes Chrome OS, which shows that it's possible to provide an OS foundation for a limited variety of complex programs in less than 1/6 the disk storage and 1/2 the RAM that Windows 10 seems to need.

              I think there's a reason Harmon Kardon Invokes run Linux rather than Windows 10 IoT.

              Basically, MSFT has a dominant position in PCs, good foundations in servers and game consoles, but Windows is effectively irrelevant on all other computing platforms. Thus Office and all sorts of services, launchers, virtual keyboards, etc from MSFT for Android and iOS.

              I don't think Chromebooks/Chromeboxes are going to doom Windows PCs, but I do believe they're eroding the customer base. And I believe MSFT doesn't like that one bit.

              • skane2600

                In reply to hrlngrv:

                Unix and all it's variants (including Linux) are still not a threat to desktop Windows. Chrome OS has some potential to threaten Windows but really isn't Linux.

                Windows continues to be noncompetitive in embedded systems just as it's always been. Linux in embedded systems has essentially replaced implementations that didn't use an operating system at all. It's a somewhat bloated approach in many cases, but Linux is free and there's plenty of resources available so who cares if the memory requirements double or triple?

                • hrlngrv

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  Terminology. Chrome OS is definitely Linux, based on Gentoo. As in, it uses the Linux kernel. In standard (not developer) mode, it doesn't have most of the GNU/POSIX toolset, but it does have most of the behind the scenes stuff for mounting/unmounting removable media, process monitoring, and it uses Linux disk encryption.

                  Put a Chrome OS device into developer mode, and it most definitely does become a Linux machine with the full set of command line tools, just not a window manager for handling X programs, though X programs CAN be launched from the command line but would lack any window management while running (mostly meaning windows can't be resized nor appear in [Alt]+[Tab] window selection). However, there are 3rd party instructions out on the web for installing small window managers which do allow running X software directly under Chrome OS. How could that be if the underlying system, Chrome OS, weren't Linux-amenable?

                  Do you know what Chrome OS looks like on disk?

                  Granted some embedded systems don't need an OS at all since they don't need a file system. Just move all of storage/ROM into RAM on startup, jump to the first instruction, and away you go. OTOH, some sort of OS is needed when storage exceeds RAM. As for Linux as an embedded system OS, there are large portions of the kernel which can be configured away and small monolithic kernels produced. Linux kernels can be produced which don't support any display and the only I/O is reading and writing files. Can Windows do that?

                • skane2600

                  In reply to hrlngrv:

                  I guess we'll have to disagree on what the minimum amount of Linux "stuff" makes a system Linux.

                  BTW, many embedded systems don't move anything into RAM other than variables or volatile data, all the code runs out of ROM. As far as customized Linux kernels are concerned when do they cease being Linux kernels and are simply a different kernel? You could obviously take a kernel of any OS (including the Windows kernel) and by adding and removing code make it in to something else.

                • hrlngrv

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  Without a doubt, there's more GNU/Linux components in Chrome OS than Android. Once in developer mode, Chrome OS is Linux just without a general window manager. Chrome OS comes with a windows manager that only handles Chrome, Chrome apps and now Android apps. However, as I stated above, in developer mode its possible to launch X programs without window management, and also to run another windows manager in parallel with Chrome OS's restrictive one.

                  Me, i'd define a kernel as a Linux kernel if it were produced from the Linux kernel source code and Makefile. As long as a kernel uses Linux initialization, memory and process management and at least one supported file system, it's Linux even if there's no I/O support beyond the file system and reading from/writing to ports.

                • skane2600

                  In reply to hrlngrv:

                  I think a significant factor is the ability to run key Linux applications "out of the box". If you could easily run Android Studio on a Chromebook, that would greatly enhance its value to developers.

                • hrlngrv

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  You don't seem to know how Linux (Unix-like generally) is organized. Linux is the kernel. It DOESN'T INCLUDE the GUI, generically called X Windows, which would be needed to run key Linux applications. Perhaps you'd counter that X Windows was such a key application, but there are many Linux users who only want and need to run terminal software (command line mode) and configure kernels with none of the support underpinnings for X Windows. You wouldn't call those customized kernels Linux?

                • skane2600

                  In reply to hrlngrv:

                  We can get picky about definitions. There's not a consensus that a kernel qualifies as an operating system by itself. Combine that with your definition of what Linux is would mean that there's no such thing as the Linux OS. My observation among Linux fans is that if a flaw is found outside the kernel, it doesn't count because Linux is just the kernel, but if you were to talk about Linux capabilities, suddenly Linux is the kernel plus user space applications . When we get beyond the "inside baseball" of developer definitions, what counts to users are the capability of the entire binary package with its benefits and its flaws.

                • hrlngrv

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  Nice deflection from concentrating on kernel to a focus on OS.

                  Technically, there is no such thing as Linux OS. It's GNU/Linux. Linux kernel with GNU POSIX tools. Colloquially called Linux for brevity, similar to how few people utter the current US President's middle name or (I suppose) how your co-workers don't use your full name when talking with you.

                  For comparison, MSDOS.SYS and IO.SYS without COMMAND.COM weren't an OS. Even with COMMAND.COM but without anything else, it wasn't much use unless you enjoyed creating files with copy con filename then copying, renaming, displaying with TYPE and deleting those files. Were the external commands also part of the OS? Yes. Were errors in, say, EDLIN.COM or BASICA.EXE OS errors? In the sense they were packaged with the OS, yes, but in the sense of affecting any other external programs, no. As always, context matters.

                  A GNU/Linux system doesn't need to have ANYTHING under /opt and /usr, and those are where X and all the GUI software is located. So, by definition (you can confirm with a web search for Filesystem Hierarchy Standard), GNU/Linux doesn't require anything GUI. OTOH, it does require being able to boot and run initialization scripts arriving at either a login prompt or a shell, and shell can mean pretty much any executable which is meant to keep running until logoff or shutdown, exactly like the SHELL= line in MS-DOS CONFIG.SYS or the Shell variable under HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon in the Windows registry.

                  The GNU piece can be replaced. Android replaces a lot more of it than Chrome OS. Nevertheless, both use a Linux kernel. As do many GUI-less even display-less embedded systems.

                  ADDED: using MS-DOS as analog, if all there were on a floppy were MSDOS.SYS, IO.SYS, CONFIG.SYS with the line SHELL=A:\XYZ.EXE, and XYZ.EXE, when a PC was booted with that disk in the A: drive, would the OS have been MS-DOS even though it'd be running XYZ rather than anything found on the MS-DOS systems disks?

                • skane2600

                  In reply to hrlngrv:

                  If you're claiming that the Chromebook's OS is based on a Linux kernel, I agree. If you're claiming that the Chromebook's OS is equivalent to any standard Linux distro, I disagree and to users that's all that matters.

                  Even among hardcore Linux enthusiasts, there's not agreement that GNU/Linux is the proper name, but I have no skin in that game so I don't care.

                • hrlngrv

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  When have I ever stated that Chrome OS in standard mode is equivalent to a standard Linux distribution? Not in any of my previous comments above.

                  However, switch it to developer mode, wait for the process to complete, then press [Ctrl]+[Alt]+[F2], and you have an almost standard Gentoo GNU/Linux terminal. Press [Ctrl]+[Alt]+[F1] to return to Chrome OS's GUI screen, then press [Ctrl]+[Alt]+T to get a terminal in a Chrome browser tab. Once you install X Windows support and an X application or two, you can launch them from that terminal, but you'll lack windows management.

                  As for names, when the context is clear, Linux may refer to either the kernel or a sufficiently complete OS to be used interactively. When the context is ambiguous, calling each Linux kernel and GNU/Linux or a specific distribution name resolves the ambiguity.

                  Finally, my previous addendum. If the hypothetical PC booted from a floppy with only MSDOS.SYS, IO.SYS, XYZ.EXE and a CONFIG.SYS file which launches XYZ.EXE would be considered running MS-DOS as its OS, then in the same exact sense a Chromebook running a Linux kernel, Linux process management, Linux disk encryption, Linux [u]mount for working with removable media, but running a specialized, non-Linux login prompt, window manager and specialized version of the Chrome browser would be running Linux as its OS. If you want to claim the former isn't running MS-DOS because it's not running COMMAND.COM nor has access to the bundled external commands, fine, at least you'd be being consistent with how you seem to prefer defining Linux as OS.

      • RobertJasiek

        In reply to PeteB:

        And I thought: "in the USA only".

  4. skane2600

    The problem with all Chromebooks relative to Windows PCs is that there's really no price advantage even at the low end. So it really comes down to simplicity vs capability and familiarity.

  5. Bdsrev

    The hardware is nice but no one in their right mind would buy this when you can get a surface pro for the same amount of money. And you can download Firefox and Vivaldi... If this was $700, maybe, but at $999, no way

    • curtisspendlove

      In reply to Bdsrev:

      “no one in their right mind”

      People value different things. Many people prefer higher priced “premium” offerings are are more than happy to pay for them.

      Calling those people out as being in a wrong frame of mind just makes you sound silly or bias.

      There is nothing wrong with someone spending their money on things they like (assuming, of course, they aren’t like feeding their children ketchup packets so they can buy an iPhone).

      If a Chromebook could help me be more productive or happier, I’d absolutely drop a grand on a premium version of that product.

      • Bdsrev

        In reply to curtisspendlove:

        But Chrome runs just as good if not better on a Surface Pro, and with the Surface Pro you can also use Firefox, Vivaldi or Edge if you want. Why would you spend the same amount of money to have less choice? The Surface Pro hardware is just as good if not better than the Pixelbook hardware... I really do like the Pixelbook hardware btw, it also is very attractive looking

        • curtisspendlove

          In reply to Bdsrev:

          “Why would you spend the same amount of money to have less choice?”

          See...the thing is...sometimes “less choice” gives you “more focus”.

          One thing I value about my iPad is that I can’t fire up Factorio and waste two hours tweaking a digital factory producing pixel goods. (While there is a place in my life for that, it is at the end of the day, decluttering my brain by not making any sort of meaningful decision.)

          If I spent a grand on a Pixelbook it would be because I wanted a pleasant, premium experience doing Pixelbook-y things.

          It wouldn’t be because I wanted to guard my web presence using Brave to research political upheaval in developing countries.

          It would be because I was doing Google-y things with Google-y devices. And I wanted that experience to be the most pleasant version of that experience I can possibly experience.

  6. rameshthanikodi

    ....i'm not sure people actually want mobile apps on their PCs, Paul. People want PC apps on their PCs. Even if they are touch-friendly, people want powerful PC apps.

    As for Chrome, yeah, everyone wants Chrome. But you can get Chrome on PCs.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      I'm not sure anyone would notice if they just worked well and looked great.

      • Andygoes

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Agreed. Normal people don't care, as long as it ticks those two boxes. There are loads more normal people than not.

        However, the argument that applies to Microsoft's failure in consumer space might be the same as Google's Chrome OS aspirations - most people don't want to bother with a PC after hours and will do most of their computing on a phone.

        The real contest will be if Google can convince enough of the enterprise that their workforce can be on Chrome OS instead of Windows. I imagine this is becoming more and more of a possibility as the years go by. Even my company - where we produce a highly niche Windows application and I rely on a bunch of powerful hardware and software, most of it requiring Windows - does all of our administrative stuff online. There are at least 2 (maybe even 3) of 25 employees that could get by with Chrome OS exclusively.

      • Stooks

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Big if.

        Fine probably for simple apps but much harder to do to really replace something like Lightroom or Visio. Even today I much prefer OneNote 2016 to the UWP version and I think the UWP version is a good app.

        All this talk about PWA's is great. However in the end I think it helps Google more than Microsoft. If Microsoft makes PWA versions of their apps and those PWA apps run on ChromeOS...buh bye Windows.

  7. Bats

    Wow....I remembered when Paul had unequivocally and explicitly stated that the venture to put Android apps into Chromebooks ...and I quote....HAS FAILED.

  8. Roger Ramjet

    i believe Microsoft's Andromeda OS, and Andromeda Unicorn HW will both have to somehow run some version of Android(I.e. Not that it is Android OS, but that technically, somehow, Android Apps will be able to run. I don't think access to PWAs will be enough).

    These sorts of mobile/desktop convergence moves by the competition (both Google & Apple), and stuff Microsoft has been doing, both technically and on the business side tell me they see, and have to see that as an inevitable requirement at this point.

    Microsoft decided Android won and are basically prepping to battle for control of it with Google, not too dissimilar from how Google as attacked Windows through Chrome browser. They have to do this or they are toast on the client side.

    • raptor

      In reply to Roger Ramjet:

      What a ridiculous fantasy. The dreams you people come up with are just bizarre sometimes. Not only can you not accept defeat in the mobile space by Google, but you've had to construct this fantasy where Microsoft miraculously takes over Android. You people really need to move on with your lives.

      • PeteB

        In reply to raptor:

        What the windrones don't understand is Android's secret sauce isn't the underlying OS. It's the monumental firstparty apps.

      • Roger Ramjet

        In reply to raptor: &PeteB

        You guys need to relax a little. First off, I speak for myself, and no other "windrone". Second, nowhere did I write that Microsoft will "take over Android". I wrote that I think they are prepping to battle Google on Android. I think so because I think that is what makes sense to do in Microsoft's (disadvantaged) position in the "convergence wars", so to speak. Google is already on Windows "battling" Microsoft, and have been doing it for decades, so this isn't anything new. It is the nature of competitive marketplace. I am not even sure what I sketched out is completely technically feasible (I am not a techie), but what I have read since I got on this case (because I invest in tech, and I like GOOGL btw), makes me think they could do it, technically.

        If, so, there are many things happening on the business side that point to that as where Microsoft should go, if they want to give themselves the best chance of continuing as a major platform provider on the client side, for example, or even if they want to make whatever mobile thing they are supposed to be working on relevant. The idea of some mobile hw that doesn't run Android at this point, I do not think makes market sense, they have already tried a bunch of other paths.

        As to the issue that the first party Apps are the key. Yes, correct, but then again, an entrant such as Microsoft shouldn't be looking to make an offer to 100% of the market off the bat, they should segment it to those parts of the market for which the Google Apps aren't do or die to start off (just as say, Chromebooks aren't targeted at 100% of Windows users). But I hope this idea didn't hit some sort of fanboi nerve there. Just thinking aloud with a focus on investment potential.

  9. naven87

    How do well do the Microsoft Office and OneDrive Android apps work in this environment. If they are basically fully functional for the average user it could be a huge deal, although I want to see some ARM based devices, before making any new purchases.

    • Jeffery Commaroto

      In reply to naven87:

      Not sure about Paul's experience but mine and others has been pretty bad. It is currently a mess.

  10. naalex

    Paul is right to sound the alarms about Windows' murky future and Chromebooks as the next potential future champion. How many more Apple laptops and iPads are you seeing in stodgy office settings compared to just a few years ago? I know I do in my industry of commercial real estate which blends creatives, engineers, and financial types. For the large part, people are still using Windows devices for work because they have to, not because they're delighted to. So what will happen when something more exciting and delightful comes along that does most or even all of what you really need? And we need to remember that tech blog readers are not necessarily the target audience. Sure my software developer sister isn't going to part with her Macbook for a Chromebook (yet), but the other 4 people in my family only use a browser. The next computer I'm getting for my mother is definitely going to be a Chromebook.

    I'm a Windows fanboy, having never owned any Apple product and even defending the Zune back in the day. My primary computing device right now is a Surface Pro 4, which is OK as a desktop/laptop but terrible as a tablet or mobile device (e.g. poor apps selection, terrible battery life, absolutely clunky tablet interface). But, what I've realized is that 90% of my desktop usage is Chrome and Google's services, and the other 10% is Office. I've never owned a Chromebook, but the potential that Google is working towards is irresistible: An OS based around the one app that I use the most - Chrome - coupled with the functionality to use all of the mobile apps that Android offers, all within an interface that may offer the best switching between desktop and mobile interfaces (again, where Windows 10 is failing). The only thing holding me back from taking the Pixelbook plunge is that my precious Snapscan USB scanner won't work, but that's easily remedied by upgrading to a WiFi-enabled model that cuts out the desktop as the middleman. See the trend here?

    You guys may rightfully counter that Chromebooks aren't there yet with offering 100% functionality or a flawless Android app experience, but you can't deny Google's progress. At the same time, MS has no appealing mobile strategy in sight, and for how long has that struggle been going on? Meanwhile, with the Pixelbook, the newbie-hardware producer Google just created a slab of tech that was universally praised as one of the best pieces of hardware. Google's biggest flaw is their short-attention span when their half-backed initiatives don't take off, but given that you can now buy a Google Pixelbook in an actual retail store, I think they are fully-committed to pushing Chromebooks.

    The moment when I realized that MS is doomed actually involves the Surface Pen. MS has been working on styluses for years, but I think the experience is underwhelming with the Surface and the Pen. My handwriting doesn't come out great on the Surface Pro 4, and while I love OneNote, the desktop app isn't touch friendly, and the mobile app is too limited. Then, I tried the iPad Pro and its pencil, and holy cow, my handwriting has never looked so good, and I found the Pencil more comfortable to write with compared to the Surface Pen (although I missed the eraser). It was the first time ever that I actually coveted an Apple product. With just their first stylus product, Apple leapfrogged MS with their tech in my opinion. Take the better stylus experience, way better battery life, almost competitive performance, and 1000x better tablet apps of the iPad Pro, and I'm not sure how the Surface or any other Windows-tablet devices are going to compete. And lookout as Apple brings more desktop-class features to their mobile OS or Google continues to add features and smooth out the kinks to Chromebooks, because Apple and Google are closer to solving their respective dwindling problems, than MS is to solving their long-standing ones.

    • Angusmatheson

      i am not an artist, so the pen is basically wasted on me. But the Apple Pencil (lame name) does feel like you are drawing right onto the paper. When I’ve used the surface pen, there was a gap of glass between where the pen was writing and where the color showed up. And the surface felt like I was writing on glass, rhe iPad Pro does feel like writing ok paper. However, just doesn’t have handwriting recognition. Why wouldn’t you build that in? Classic Apple, Apple doesn’t think you need it, so I’m not putting it in. I don’t know if Apple leapfrogged microsoft. But it is amazing that Microsoft has been making and releasing stylus based products for decades, and Apple for only 2 years. Even if they are comparable is a remarkable feat. One of my friends is an artist, as is her mother, the things they can draw on their iPad pros are amazing....i don’t think buying surface pros for their art ever occurred to them. Which might be the more important part of the story - windows still seems to be defined by the Mac vs PC Television adds and just seems stodgy to hip artist types. In reply to naalex:

    • Win74ever

      In reply to naalex:

      Great comment. I feel the same. Windows won't last long. I feel like the need to embrace their strength: desktop. Windows still is the best desktop OS. Still with lots of games and programs. They need to make the best experience on a desktop and forget the rest. Windows 10 isn't helping archiving this. Too many bugs, mobile features and lack of vision. Why not release a new, modern, Windows 7? Without bloatware. With great built in apps for regular people. A great photo manager and a video editor. Give control of Windows Update. Upgrade the OS only once per year. Open a Win32 app Store.

  11. Andy Ball

    Devices from Microsoft, Google and Apple all have their advantages and also their weaknesses I.E a lack, perceived or otherwise, of what the other guys devices are good at or provide.

    Luckily for us they are all trying to evolve them into the all rounders we want them to be and all three will be different as they all have different starting positions, different things they value and want to protect, different obstacles to overcome and no doubt different ideas about what they are trying to achieve.

    So I’m pleased we have this alternative and bought one on day one! It won't suit everybody but some it will out of the box, others will need to adapt themselves to make the most of it and others will have to adapt it (crouton/Ubuntu).

    The point is it's there available to be used to obtain insights as to what works, what might work and what doesn't so the next generation of devices/software, combined with our own evolving use of technology, gets us all one step closer to where we want to be.

    I even got the pen! Not because of what I think it can do now (not a lot in my opinion) but for what I hope and expect it will do in the future!

    PS. Had the Pixelbook a week now and liking it a lot !! 

  12. fanchettes

    Great first impressions, Paul. While I'm way too invested in Win10 to be swayed by this device, it is good to see Google making this kind of commitment to chromeOS/Android compatibility. I think it will take devices like this to finally push devs to make decent Android apps for tablets/laptops.

    What I don't get in reading the comments is this all-or-nothing mentality that chromeOS must either destroy Windows or be vanquished by it. Why? Do we not all use a variety tech EVERY DAY in our normal lives? From my perspective a viable ChromeOS platform will spur Microsoft to step up their game, making their stuff that much better. It's what happened in the 80s with Apple vs Windows, and both of those platforms are still around. Maybe a successful melding of chromeOS and Android is just the thing Microsoft needs.

  13. jwr375

    "Microsoft trying to simply Windows" I think you meant simplify.

  14. jrswarr

    I think the dilemma for Microsoft is our expectations. The base problem is that we expect any Microsoft operating system to run x86 code – period. Admittedly they have rather clumsily tried to introduce change but to be frank I am not sure how I would have tried to market it.  

    Chrome OS gets a pass on this as it has no history – hence no legacy to drag it down.

    I am not convinced that had Microsoft wiped the slate and produced Windows 8 as a mobile only and x86 incompatible operating system that it would have sold – even with great marketing. The media would have howled about how Microsoft was abandoning their user base and users would have growled about those greedy bastards at Microsoft were making them buy all their software again - you know the one running a copy of Word 97.

    PWA’s make life simpler – and may be good for Microsoft – if they remain a key player in the cloud and host a fair share of the PWA’s and the services they will require.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to jrswarr:

      I don't think I can come up with a positive suggestion, but it sure seems Windows RT was and Windows 10 S is almost sure to become really bad ideas. Then again, Windows 10 S may get a pass due to the DOZENS of packaged desktop programs available in the MSFT Store.

  15. pesos

    Holy Bezels, Batman! Those things are huge!

  16. PincasX

    I’ve argued that the latter was the more achievable, though stilted efforts like the iPad Pro and iOS 11 may suggest that it won’t be as easy as I thought. But Google has come at this problem from another angle, if only because its own iPad Pro-like efforts at Android tablets and 2-in-1s have failed too.”

    *cough* bullshit *cough*


  17. Bats

    I have read a ton of comments and the anti-ChromeOS people, just don't get it. It's not really about the Pixelbook and it's not really about ChromeOS, it's about the web. I have said this many many times before, even when Thurrott was writing for the Supersite, the future of computing is the web. Just Surface does for Windows, the Pixelbook does for ChromeOS which is really the Web or the Cloud. It's all about controlling standards. Amazon and Microsoft may own the "real estate" of the cloud, but the business on top of it is being run on Google/Chrome.

    Also here is another thing. Chrome, without question, is the best browser period. Operating Chrome on Pixelbook is far better, smoother, and faster than Edge is on Windows 10. If you don't believe me, go to your local Best Buy and play with it. This tells me one thing, Edge has the performance advantage over any browser because of it's deep tie-in with Windows 10.

    • RobertJasiek

      In reply to Bats:

      I admire the easy updating of ChromeOS and despise its privacy violations and (still) web-dependence. Chrome may be a fast browser but has it suddenly become one without privacy violations? For this, compare it with non-Google, non-Microsoft, non-Apple, non-Amazon browsers, such as Firefox and Opera. We know they are not the fastest and most energy-efficient but "the best" browser depends on choosing preferences, which can (ought to!) include privacy.

    • skane2600

      In reply to Bats:

      The importance of the web has certainly increased in the last two decades, but I think if it was going to be "the future of computing" it would have already replaced all the alternatives. While there seems to be a steady stream of new tools that allegedly make web development easier and various tweaks to web browsers the fundamental capabilities of web app development haven't really increased in recent years. There's really nothing one can do today with a web app that one couldn't do a decade ago.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to skane2600:

        . . . There's really nothing one can do today with a web app that one couldn't do a decade ago.

        Then from a different perspective, Google was pretty much spot-on with timing the original release of Chrome OS.

        Not so much the web as networking more generally as the future of computing. And it's an evolution which benefits from ever faster, ever greater bandwidth, ever greater wifi coverage. IOW, web app software itself may not have changed much, but the networking environment has developed considerably over the last decade, no?

  18. hrlngrv

    Tangent: 'with Microsoft trying to simply Windows and add mobile features' -- this got by Grammarly did it?

  19. hrlngrv

    I can't see paying US$1,000 for a Chromebook no matter how nice the hardware and no matter how well it could run crouton to become a Linux laptop.

    OTOH, the idea of tablets able to handle a desktop browser and also provide Android apps would be very interesting. Again, not at US$1,000, but at a reasonable price they make more sense than Windows tablets for nonproductive use.

  20. UbelhorJ

    What does this thing really offer over a much cheaper Samsung Chromebook Pro? It's more powerful I guess, but I have the lowly Plus model and I feel like it's way more limited by the (in)capabilities of ChromeOS rather than performance.

    Chromebooks have their place as couch or grandma PCs, but even with Android apps, it's still a bit of a mess with huge gaps in capabilities. That triple-digit price is hard to justify when I'd still need to keep a real computer around. You can get an excellent and much more capable Windows laptop or Mac for as much as the Pixelbook.

    Microsoft should be worried though. Every time I turn this Chrombook on it seems to get an update that fills in another gap in capabilities. It won't be long.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to UbelhorJ:

      For people with the means and a desire for style, it offers a far more elegant piece of hardware that they will not be embarrassed to pull out in a meeting, on a plane, or whatever. It offers better performance, more storage, and a much better display. This is like asking what a Surface Pro offers over a low-end third party clone. They both can do the same thing, or some of the same things, but there is a market for both.

  21. wshwe

    Progressive Web Apps are a double-edged sword for MS. Those same apps will run fine on other platforms such as Chrome OS.

    My 2 nieces currently use Chromebooks and iPads. Neither has ever touched a Windows machine.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to wshwe:

      They will run fine, for sure. But the "progressive" part in that name implies something that could emerge as a key advantage for Windows: They can be designed to work better and use more advanced and/or native features that may only be in Windows too.

  22. Harrymyhre

    One of the coolest things about chrome books is the way they apply system updates. Kevin C TOEFFEL explained it the other day. Apologies if this is wrong.

    They apply the updates for the new OS in the background as you are working. When the update is ready for use a little arrow appears in the system tray area. Click the arrow and *boom* she reboots and you’re off again with the new system.

  23. MikeGalos

    Wow. $1,000-1,650 PLUS $100 for a pen and $250 for the extended warrantee. That's Two Grand for a portable terminal that someday, real soon now, we mean it this time, might be able to run actual standalone applications (but not any from real professional application vendors like Adobe or Microsoft)

    At that pricing I can see why Paul didn't break out costs or compare it to anybody else's hardware. That's just insane pricing.

    • Nicholas Kathrein

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      1st your looking at it all wrong. Trying to look at the price and say it can't do what other things at that price can is wrong because that only matters if you need that. If you do then your in a minority. Most people (80%) or more don't use Adobe anything. Microsoft is making software just for ChromeOS because they can't afford not to be on it. Adobe by the way is working on customer apps designed just for ChromeOS. That will be available in the future but till then again 80% don't need that. There is a good amount of people who want the quality you get in $1,000 plus laptops. This is a premium device for anyone who wants a quality laptop.

      • skane2600

        In reply to Nicholas_Kathrein:

        For people who don't need advanced programs or win32 compatibility, a $300 Chromebook should do fine. I suppose there are some people who buy computers primarily as furniture but I don't think it's all that common.

        • Delmont

          In reply to skane2600:

          As furniture? You mean as a status symbol?

          • skane2600

            In reply to Delmont:

            Furniture: My characterization of an expensive, premium device that one wishes to own despite the lack of functionality that "premium" would typically be associated with.

        • MikeGalos

          In reply to skane2600:

          Except, of course, this is a $1,000-$2,000 Chromebook. And, for that matter, if you DO need advanced programs or Win32 compatibility you can get that on a $300 Windows laptop.

          • skane2600

            In reply to MikeGalos:

            I agree, but my point was just that it doesn't make sense to buy an expensive Chromebook considering all the limitations. If you don't want to run Windows and you don't need Win32 compatibility, than buy a cheap Chromebook, not an expensive one. I wouldn't recommend a Chromebook over a Windows PC in general, although a cheap one might make sense for some people. My 90-year-old father-in-law's PC keeps getting infected both because of his lack of knowledge and the actions of his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In his specific case, a cheap Chromebook might be better since he doesn't run much of anything other than a browser.

            • normcf

              In reply to skane2600:

              So, basically you're saying that if you don't need win32 apps, you don't need nice hardware. Plenty of people work long hours using just web apps and they deserve to have a fast machine with a nice keyboard, trackpad and screen as much as anyone else. Combine that with ultra simple management and superior security and there are plenty of people that can justify the cost.

              • skane2600

                In reply to normcf:

                I guess I'm skeptical of the claim that there are "plenty" of people who work long hours using just web apps. Of course web apps are available to Linux, Windows, and MacOS too. I'm not sure how much the increased performance of a high-end machine affects the performance of web apps. It's usually sophisticated programs running natively that tax the system. One certainly doesn't need to spend $1000+ to get a Chromebook with a "nice keyboard, trackpad, and screen".

      • MikeGalos

        In reply to Nicholas_Kathrein:

        Actually I said actual standalone applications not phone apps. Real Office or Real Photoshop for examples. You know, the stuff you can't do on this despite it costing as much as a premium, top-end laptop.

    • Delmont

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      I noticed in the article, no price breakdown. That's a first from Paul. But his articles the past couple of months are him just doubling down on everything Google, Chrome and Andriod. Paul's become today's John C. Dvorak.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      It runs native apps locally right now. Including apps from both of those companies.

      I compared the price of this to Surface Pro. They're comparable. Also, this is a first impressions article, not an in-depth look at pricing or anything else.

  24. JacobTheDev

    I think it's interesting that you where so concerned about buying a Pixel 2 XL because of the display issues, but you don't seem to have nearly as much concern over buying the PIxelbook, which arguably, is a much riskier bet. At least if the Pixel 2 XL's screen really does suck, it's still an otherwise great Android phone. If the Pixelbook doesn't work out, it's basically just a $1000 web browser.

    I'm interested to hear how much success you have with Android apps on this device, I've heard mixed things about Android apps on Chrome OS, and from this article, it sounds like you have as well. What I'd *really* like is Android apps on Windows, natively supported, but we'll probably never get there.

  25. wunderbar

    I just really wish this were a 6-700 US dollar machine.

    I have the arm based Chromebook plus, and it's about 80% of the way to being exactly what I want in a portable machine. The Pixelbook probably gets that last 20%, but there's no way any reasonable person should say that $800+ for that 20% is a good value.

  26. Ndbbm

    I played with one at BestBuy, and thought it was nice hardware. I honestly don’t know enough about Chrome OS to know if it would work for me, but I think I can do about 90-95% of what I use a computer for on IOS. Plus apparently there’s a version of Lightroom for at least the Pixelbook, if not Chrome OS. I like the way Chrome OS does updates. It’s interesting times seeing where everything is going.

  27. helix2301

    I am still trying to understand why I cant just get windows 10 machine for less and load chrome browser and do everything through there for cheaper. I like ChromeOS but 1000 kind steep for chromebook I think

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to helix2301:

      You can get a Windows 10 machine for less and use the Chrome browser; but you're also taking on the added complexity of Windows and its long history of legacy code. If you only need Chrome (and some Android apps), then you could probably get a Chromebook for a little less than a comparable Windows machine. And yes, $1000 is very steep; $400-$500 is probably a better range to shop for a quality Chromebook.

  28. RobertJasiek

    Every manufacturer makes the same mistakes: telemetry, tiny arrow keys, high instead of low display ratio, (presumably) glare instead of matte display. They can't decide whether to please the endconsumer with a nice, thin and light design - or chase away him with the mistakes.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      I don't see those as mistakes. I see most of them as design compromises. They all use telemetry so they can tell how their devices are doing. The display ratio is really just a personal preference based on what you do with the machine. You can't have a thin and light design without making a lot of compromises.

      • RobertJasiek

        In reply to lvthunder:

        Telemetry: It is clear why they use it but this does not 1) comply with the law everywhere and 2) meet the privacy concerns of all endconsumers. Such endconsumers do not make the compromise that the manufacturer wants them to make.

        Display ratio: Ok, partly it is personal preference. Every manufacturer knows this but only very few offer a portfolio of devices with a reasonable choice. Partly, it is not personal preference but objectively measurably how close a display ratio is to typical contents ratio. What has been a major purpose of premium chromebooks? Premium education + office. Where one needs to view and edit texts. And no, I do not buy it that 16:9 would fit that purpose.

        Arrow keys: I do not recall any keyboard layout where normal-sized arrow keys would not have been reasonably possible and better than tiny arrow keys. This compromise can simply be avoided.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      . . . tiny arrow keys [emphasis added] . . .

      Absolutely agree, but I fear it means we're aging out of the target market.

  29. Craig Luecke

    Very, very fair assessment. I have the $999 version with the Pixel 2 XL. I, however, purchased the pen having come from my trusted HP X360 2in1 15" premium laptop with the upgraded Microsoft pen. I have used Chromebooks in the past (Asus) and still have a Chromebase (Chrome desktop) in our kitchen used mainly as a family desktop that anyone can log into. This is by far the first Chrome hardware I am unconsciously keep going back to. I have used it for everything between business trips flying Southwest (leaving behind my corporate issued Lenova) to casually relaxing on the couch in the evening scrolling through Paul's rants on Twitter. I had to FORCE myself to do this. I've been using Windows forever. Habits at my age are difficult to change. Being able to use Android apps and my Chrome browser (extensions, saved history, settings etc) is quite amazing.

    As a person who creates tutorials, Powerpoint presentations, and lectures I can tell you that the pen is worth it. I find it more useful than the Microsoft pen Windows 10 on my HP Spectre x360. I find ink on Windows still cumbersome. The pen on the Pixelbook especially using the laser pointer feature is great. I can draw anywhere, anytime. No Windows screenshots necessary. Anyone who does any form of presenting should not think twice regarding the pen ... aka educators in a Chromebook world.

    I am running the PC version of Steam on the Pixelbook and several PC platformer games as a test since this does have some power under the hood. The (currently free) Crossover app allows this without modifying the OS. Still testing this out. Promise of running Windows programs appears real. Having the horsepower of the Intel i5, SSD and memory makes running the full Microsoft Office desktop version a reality on a Chromebook. Yes, there are some features that do not appear on Office365 that I need for my work.

    Sure, I was about to purchase the Samsung Pro Chromebook for $520+, BUT (and I cannot excuse this from Samsung or ANY hardware maker) not having a backlit keyboard on any 2in1 is a deal breaker. Otherwise, I would be on a Samsung right now.

    The price is an issue. I think a fair price should have been $899 with the pen included.

    Thank you for letting me ramble.

    • RobertJasiek

      In reply to RocklandUSA:

      While I understand your preference for a backlit keyboard, my preference is contrary because I appreciate an unobtrusive design and long battery life. If the backlight can be turned off, everybody can be happy.

      • Jarrett Kaufman (TurboFool)

        In reply to RobertJasiek:

        I've never known a keyboard with a backlight that couldn't be turned off.

        • RobertJasiek

          In reply to TurboFool:

          That's good to hear. OTOH, manufacturers are not always so reasonable for other features: automatic brightness, automatic brightness in battery mode, content adaptive brightness control, (even blinking) status LEDs etc. that cannot be deactivated on quite a few devices. Keyboard backlight is one of the features in danger of being the next victim of manufacturers believing to know it better than the endconsumer himself what he wants. The endconsumers must keep control over their devices!

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to RocklandUSA:

      Thanks for this. Agreed to all of it, the backlit keyboard, the price, etc.

  30. Angusmatheson

    I haven’t used this device, and my only chrome book experience is my son’s crappy school one. However, I can talk to the future of mobile OS Pro “computers” in the workplace. My father bought an iPad Pro - which thought was rediculous. He brought it to work, and we fight over who can use it. I had set up every room and a docking system in my office because it by far the fastest computer on the office (HP i7, 16 G ram and SSD is smoked). My transcriptionist loves it and loves the keyboard. This device isn’t for everyone, I certainly didn’t think it was for me...then I used it and loved it. And the app situation is amazing. So many iPhone medical apps. I think chrome OS (and maybe android too) and iOS have an amazing future in the workplace. I cannot wait to put all my x86 computers away and live with a 1lb device that is always connected and I never have to wait for it to be ready.

  31. LocalPCGuy

    When web apps are available for every productivity program that an individual uses on Windows, a Chromebook will make sense to that person. 100% is needed, nothing less will do.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to LocalPCGuy:

      Then MSFT has nothing to fear vis-a-vis PC users who need Excel or Adobe software.

      For pretty much everything else, there's already likely to be non-Windows alternatives for running locally, and some web app (not all progressive yet) alternatives for running online. I figure 90% of people wanting to touch up or crop/resize jpegs would find Pixlr Express more than adequate.

      From a different perspective, those working for large enterprises likely have access to most of their workplace software remotely using Citrix, VMWare and alternative remote desktop solutions. For them, any device running any OS with a connection app just may achieve your 100% threshold.

  32. VancouverNinja

    This just feels like a solution where one is not needed. It is clear that Google would like market share of the PC category but the platform just doesn't offer enough to buy it over Windows PCs.

    It is too little, too late for Google just like MS was to late on phones. If Google had pulled this off during the Windows 8 era it could have gained traction, with Windows 10 and everything that MS has done to turn it around the idea that Chromebooks can make any meaningful traction is a pipedream. Plus the momentum that MS has got rolling with cross platform XBOX gaming, and their emerging VR/MR platform, almost guarantees that a Chromebook will always offer less without any compensation for a user of the platform.

    We are now transitioning our entire salesforce to Microsoft 365 Business (upgrading from our 365 Business Premium plan) due to the excellence in system and data management it provides us. I had no idea that there is a version of Windows 10 called Windows 10 Business that we are automatically upgraded to with the new plan. Microsoft is really killing it for small business as well as large and enterprise customers today. So really Chromebook - for what purpose?

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to VancouverNinja:

      The value proposition of Chromebooks has been covered ad nauseam. In fact, Microsoft has created Windows 10S in part to address the very same needs that Chromebooks are trying to address. Chrome OS may not offer enough for you, but that does not mean there is no need.

  33. Mark from CO


    This is a threat to Microsoft that many of your readers have been raising for some time. It may not be fully mature at this time, but the relentlessness of Google tells us that some time in the near future, this threat will be real.

    Microsoft has three significant competitive fatal flaws when the Google's threat matures:

    1. Microsoft has essentially no mobile customers. Google's play is to provide a way for its mobile customers to easily move into the PC space. Unfortunately, most of these customers are also overlapping Microsoft customers. Google will have a meaningful way for consumers to simplify their technology requirements - and the decision to consolidate will be a no brainer for most of these customers.
    2. Microsoft doesn't have a real app store to effectively compete with Google. You can say what you want about the upcoming PWA world. But don't minimize the fact that PWA can be argued to be a Google innovation. Microsoft is only reading the tea leaves - UWP is no competitor to PWA. IMHO, Google's advantageous competitive position argues against your belief (hope?) that Google will port its ecosystem apps to PWA. Why would they do this? It only benefits Microsoft. I believe they will integrate these apps into the OS. The Google apps provide substantial added value to the Google ecosystem. Google will not help the Windows ecosystem by making them PWA enabled. Google is trying to replace Microsoft in the consumer, and then business PC market, and has a good chance at succeeding. Why would they help Microsoft? Makes no sense.
    3. Last, it seems the Google Chrome world will be here much, much sooner than the PWA world Microsoft is hoping for. It will take several years before we see a mature PWA world. From your own account, the Chrome world is much closer. Again, Microsoft seems to be in a too little, too late position.

    Mark from CO

    • chrisrut

      In reply to Mark from CO:

      I think of it as less of a threat than the inexorable march of Technological Convergence. That is, "You can't keep a good idea down." Thus, an idea of value in one OS and its context, will inevitably show up in other OSes as they try to occupy that same context. Context drives the shape of tools.

      You may be right about PWAs, But I could see still MS releasing a really good Android emulator for Windows, "the Operating System" at the same time as creating a "shell" (for want of a better term) that ports aspects of the Windows Ezperience to other hardware platforms, in their contexts.

      • Mark from CO

        In reply to chrisrut:

        You may be right about Technological Convergence, but the real value of the OS is how many people are using it. Competitors may offer similar technologies and the general OSs may be similar (W10 vs Mac), but what is really important to the OS provider is customers. This reason is why Microsoft abandoned W10 mobile - no customers. Right now, because of Microsoft's lack of mobile presence, it lacks the customers of Google and Apple. And a case could be made that the gap has increased over the last few years. Indeed, the big 3 may be headed for Technological Convergence, but that doesn't mean they'll split the pie equally. Of the 3, Microsoft clearly lags the other 2. And I don't think time is looking favorably on Microsoft...

        Mark from CO

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Mark from CO:

      For consumers, sure. For workplace users, less clear.

      1. Remains to be seen how important phone-PC integration is in business. Sharing contact lists, sure. Sharing file, not as obvious. Also depends on what software one uses.

      2. PWAs don't need to be installed from the MSFT Store, and as long as Windows 10's Start menu includes anything added to %APPDATA%MicrosoftWindowsStart Menu, entries for PWAs can be added to standard images rather than needing to install anything from the MSFT Store. Indeed, I figure most enterprises would be more likely to prevent employees ever having access to the MSFT Store much less being able to install anything they want.

      • Mark from CO

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Perhaps we have slightly different perspectives on this. I may overstate the case, but I think most tech writers underestimate the impact that innovation in the consumer market has, or will have, on the business market. The next few years, IMHO, will clearly show us whose right. in any case, Microsoft is very poorly positioned in the consumer market, and is seeing many of its fortress business markets coming under heavy attack, particularly by Google.

        Mark from CO

  34. Stooks

    "Chromebooks are a good idea, and I suspect that most readers would at least acknowledge the usefulness of such a device"

    Sure if cost is the single most important factor then yes cheap Chromebooks and free Google apps will get you by for most computing tasks. Not all for sure and NOT the best way for sure.

    Schools come to mind. Lot's of the public schools in my area are moving to this for one reasons. Cost. Cost of software, cost of hardware and simple ease of administration means they can get rid of, or greatly reduce the cost of IT staff or consultants. However some teacher/s usually take on the burden of managing this, again for cost reasons.

    My company tried moving to Chromebooks as a "loaner" laptop. In the past we used Windows laptops for this. The loaner laptop basically has just a few apps, VPN, Citrix client, RDP client. For us these apps were available on Chromebook (VPN vendor supported). Well the experience for various reasons was lacking and users HATED it. The Windows loaner laptops were always checked out and nobody wanted the Chromebooks. We have since abandoned that idea, we actually have a few cheap Chromebooks that have never left the box.

    Buying this device at its cost to run ChromeOS and some Android apps??? Just burn the money as it would make more sense.

    Paul you need to get on "This week in Google".

    • Nicholas Kathrein

      In reply to Stooks:

      If the Chrome OS and entire system designed for teachers sucked they'd not use it. Being cheap is icing on the cake. It works which is why they use it. Management is easier than other options. These are the reasons.

      In the work environment using citrix / rdp would be a crap experience no matter what OS you use. You have to be able to use the native / web apps / android apps to have a good experience. So for business it depends if you have the apps you want. If you do or your work has moved to cloud based options where you're in the browser accessing your company systems.

      • Stooks

        In reply to Nicholas_Kathrein:

        The VPN client, Citrix client and RDP client all had quirks. More steps to VPN in, odd features in the other apps.

        Example the RDP app, the best in the store, only allows one RDP session. If you want it to be full screen, then maximize it before you make the connection. If you did not, then drop the connection and then maximize, then reconnect. Using Windows RDP none of that junk goes on.

        Add up enough little quirks and users reject it. They rejected it and we went back to Windows.

        This is a REAL world example, not some review of how cool some new Laptop is.

        Fact is schools use Google stuff because it is free...100% free. You can get education discounts for Microsoft stuff but there is still a cost.

        $10 per student, per year for Office 365 is a great price. But if you have 1000 students that is $10,000 you don't have to spend on the Google solution. It adds up from there.

        I am not saying Google products are bad, but if they were priced the same their popularity would be far less than they are today.

        • fanchettes

          In reply to Stooks:Microsoft is really making strides in education lately, and marking the distinction between COST and VALUE. OneNote is without a doubt their killer app for education, and they're constantly bringing new features and refinements to it. I encourage everyone to take a look at the Microsoft in Education sites and all the tools and resources they offer. They even do STEM workshops at the physical Microsoft Stores! It's helpful to know just what's going on before you out right dismiss Windows as an option for schools.

    • rickcosby

      In reply to Stooks:

      At this price they may not sell a lot of them but I'll bet that the sales rate for the ASUS C302 and Samsungs go up when people play with it. I don't think Google cares how many of them actually sell, this is more about promoting the platform. There are some very good mid range Chromebooks right now and a substantial number of laptop users could replace their machine with one of them. You probably aren't one of them if you are reading this but there are thousands more of "them" than there are of "us"....

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Stooks:

      . . . simple ease of administration . . .

      This may be MSFT's primary weakness. Windows may have become too huge and unwieldy to be handled by simple admin tools. If MSFT provided simple admin for schools and other target markets for Windows 10 S, some of their Windows 10 Enterprise and Pro (SMBs) customers may begin to demand simplicity too. Then what happens to the value of all those MSFT certifications?

      Cynicism: MSFT has already become IBM 2.0. It's been building up a regular priesthood of the mysteries of Windows system administration for years. Shame the Reformation has begun.

  35. jwpear

    I'm curious what you give up here in the same vain as what you give up with Windows 10S. I can see either OS and their associated device working for many folks, but what are the hidden gotchas. For example, with the new Surface Precision Mouse, you apparently give up button customization and smart switching when used with Windows 10S. Those seem like power user features, so maybe not the best example, but there are likely to be others that impact the typical user (e.g. multifunction printer). I'd be uneasy recommending this device/OS, as with Windows 10S, to folks without being able to qualify what they may give up.

    I personally have a hard time with the price. The value just doesn't seem like it is there. I'd rather have a full machine/OS for that price. I can see others putting higher value on the simplicity, but I'm still not sure that's the typical consumer.

  36. harmjr

    I hope we will see a dual boot day and can select from any OS we want.

    Why cant we all get along....

  37. Nonmoi

    Next step: flash it with Windows 10 and compares the UX, directly on the exact same hardware.