31 thoughts on “Chrome OS: What Is It Good For?”

  1. My rule of thumb is:
    Every time a company aligns its strategy based on CIO, CTO, IT managers input, it’s going to be marginalized. This history repeats itself from Mainframes over Minis, Workstations, PCs to ….
    IT managers don’t think about Information or Context, they think about driven the cost of IT administration down. Which business users(not Managers) do not care about that much. They need to get a job done, which is more and more is about processing Information in a given Context in a given time frame. Which IT doesn’t understand, since they think about categories. So the users setup their own shop, since they require more flexibility.

      1. When was the last time you said not so nice words to your iPad,OSX, Win7, Linux machine because of boot times? Viruses, spam, …. I stopped running spam assassin since it’s not worth the CPU time. I get less spam than in my Google account, for example. One just has to understand, points, data and information.

        But when was the last time you drowned in the equivalent data like this. Users are already exposed to that kind of mess (email, twitter, social, search, local, none local, calendars,…). I think that’s the problem of tomorrow, not spam , nor boot times or admin cost, that’s yesterdays/maybe todays problem.

  2. A couple of thoughts:

    1) Why doesn’t Google just pull an Apple and ship with Flash off by default? Instead, Google should ship with hardware accelerated h.264 support and push people towards HTML5. Flash isn’t efficient on platforms that Adobe has worked heavily on. Adobe has ignored Linux for years, and Flash really isn’t worth relying on. The whole Chrome OS experience would be faster and more energy efficient without Flash, and going with faster hardware only lowers the value proposition. Let’s say there were Chrome OS computers that had Core 2 Duo chips, better graphics cards, etc. Not only would the cost of the machine be much higher and into OS X and Windows territory, but the device would still not run as well because Flash isn’t nearly as mature for Linux as it is for the two other major OSes. If the iPhone 4 running at somewhere around 750mhz can do 720p video at 30 fps, people are going to expect a better video experience from Chrome OS laptops.

    2) I think you’re right that this could be a big hit for the enterprise market, especially as more companies embrace cloud computing. A lot of money and time could be saved by switching to a model like Chrome OS. I can also see Chrome OS being popular as an extra machine in a person’s house. Maybe have one heavy OS like OS X and then have a few tablets or Chrome OS machines for other people to use when they aren’t doing work that requires the heavy OS. But this only works if Chrome OS machines are pretty cheap, and bumping up the hardware specs to work better with Flash doesn’t make sense.

    1. Why would they ship with hardware accelerated H.264 when they’re pushing WebM? If anything they should strip out both Flash and H.264, but they won’t.

  3. In case if you are wondering whats the hardware configuration for Cr48, its a basic hardware. goo.gl/ZOJRG

    Now, imagine this same piece of software running on a quad core, 4 gig machine!

  4. I agree, Chrome OS should be gold for enterprises, and has high potential to succeed – in the consumer market, we’ll see.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I think it would be interesting to see how this plays out. If the devices are cheap enough and large enterprises adopt these machines, Google might have something going for it. Otherwise, it still has Android 😉

  5. I think this a very exciting new product coming but I doubt I will look to buy until at least a year after it is released to the public. That’s pretty much my policy with any new product to wait until many of the bugs that are discovered by mass use are worked out.

  6. I wholeheartedly disagree. A mature Chrome OS would be PERFECT for every member of my family who is not a “computer person.” My mom just wants to see photos, play simple browser games, and keep in touch through Gmail. My grandma would like the same. My in-laws are not heavy computer users – more people that only need a browser for music, photos, Facebook, and Google Docs to write some school papers.

    You might be right that Chrome OS is a good fit for IT, but it is also good for anyone that needs a computer experience but doesn’t have a computer background. These are the family members that come to me when they have a virus or can’t get Office to open a document. For them, Chrome OS is amazing – no OS updates, no virus scanners, no file backups, no disk defrags, no crazy malware infestations that require a reformat and reinstall. This is all perfect for someone who just needs a simple computer experience and don’t want the complexity of Windows, OSX, or (geez) desktop Linux.

    The problem with Google sending these laptops out to the media is that the media are heavy computer users. I think they should be handing them out to everyday Joes in front of Target and WalMart and see what kind of reaction they get. Those are the white collar people who paint houses all day, and just want to come home and read some news, play a game, and connect on Facebook. For that huge segment of the population Chrome OS could be a godsend.

  7. For Google Apps to work, you need to be on the “new infrastructure”. Your Admin can do this fairly easily or it will happen over the next few months automatically. I’ve been able to login using my apps account and it works just like it should.

  8. Once matured it will make perfect sense for small and medium business. May be even for big enterprises. I have seen many man days wasted just because hardware goes down. Admins have system images and ghost images and what not but nothing will work like the way Chrome would and should work. Replace the hardware and everything is up and ready to use as soon as you login.
    Also data security can be handled better by getting rid of external hard drives and USB support.
    Personally I dont see myself using chrome at home but can see most of the employees of a big enterprise being able to do all their daily work on a chrome OS.

  9. The Chrome OS advantage is heavily tied to the nature of the input device controlling it, meaning in this case a full size keyboard with traditional tactile feedback. It’s not enterprise vs. consumer, but rather productivity vs. consumption that will drive the need for Chrome OS. You’re not in an enterprise, yet I suspect you’d be hard pressed to give up your MacBook Air — even though you have your pick of phones and tablets.

  10. the best thing i feel about having an OS on your USB is that even if the computer is not yours, you can still use it to browse the web, this was how i used Jolicloud, the bad thing though is that you have to login to the web, why should i… can’t there be a way to use the web without a logging in?

  11. Chrome can win if:

    A) it lowers costs. Either the notebook gets cheaper or the software does or the support costs do.


    B) reduces the hassles of current computing ala the iPad.

    For the latter, if you don’t have to worry about viruses and your data is always backed up and it boots up quick and you don’t see any driver problems/hassles and your data is well organized and reliability is increased along with battery life then its a big win. I see as aimed at similar targets the iPad is aimed at in a different way. But both devices gain from re-thinking the way things are done and from the lack of previous OS baggage.

    IN the former it remains to be seen how much costs can come down. Chrome OS notebooks would probably rock with the specs of an 11″ Macbook Air without the expensive thin aluminum body, SSD and Apple profit margin.

    Can they get that config down to $500 or cheaper?

    IF combined with ease of use then you can have a winner I would think thought not for all usage cases.

  12. My take on Chrome OS for the “consumer” is this:

    I have many friends/acquaintances who spend almost all of their computing time on the web and look at me like I’m a bit crazy when I use the terms Linux, USB Flash Drive, Dual Core, etc. Let’s face and state the fact that many consumers are computer challenged and only know the Internet. These people seem to want an inexpensive way to spout about their personal lives on the likes of Facebook, Twitter.

    For these people ChromeOS net-books are a win-win.

  13. Om: great review. I am using one as well and was going to write a review but I’ll just link to your article.

    I feel the same way. This is not about what this device is but what it represents about the web os model.

  14. The biggest failure of the CR-48 is that it’s largely being talked up in the US, where it is most vulnerable to being an “almost win” for too many different categories of user – corporate IT shops, consumer technophobes, education, etc. Also, the US has one of the most inconsistent internet infrastructures in the world, and is trending to having one of the most expensive/Mb over time.

    Where this really shines is wherever there is a reliable ISP/mobile infrastructure. A CR-48 on Docomo, for example, makes much more sense than a VZW rollout at this stage. Just add a picture of hello kitty to the home screen, done! 😉 Seriously, though, this looks like a “Cloud OLPC” to me, in many positive ways…

  15. I disagree, chrome os is perfect for the consumer. They just need netflix support and with that everything I do will be doable on chrome os at a fraction of the cost of your oh-so-pretty macbook air.
    Focusing on business adoption is stupid; every major advancement in computer technology has been driven by consumer demand. Android and iOS are the best things to happen to mobile and had NO business support for years. Devoting to business support is a sure death sentence for Chrome OS. But you wouldn’t mind, you already thought chrome OS should die, because android was so wonderful. Android, the consumer-driven masterpiece.

    1. Also how is a netbook or notebook form factor less consumer friendly than a tablet or smartphone, a form factor still quite unfamiliar to the majority of americans who still haven’t bought one yet?

  16. I see the Chrome OS as something aimed at people who don’t really take advantage of all the features of their computers – for the most part, they just want to go online and occasionally, they want to play a game or edit a document.

    Your suggestion that business could also use Chrome OS intrigues me too. I see how it can potentially be cheaper than buying several OS and office suite licenses, but at the same time, many companies I know have their own mail servers and other network infrastructure already in place. I wonder if Chrome OS will play well with these companies’ servers. Of course, that problem is something the system administrators will have to worry about, not me.

  17. The cr-48 is a machine for beta testers of Chrome OS. Dwelling on the hardware is pointless, since it will never be sold.

    I have always thought cloud computing was a great idea. It’s been around before, but failed because the technology wasn’t there. 15 year later, it is.

    So I’ve been using Chrome OS on the cr-48 for a week now. At first, it felt a little confining, but that was only true given the desktop mindset I have. What I have found is that there is nothing I regularly do that I can’t do in the cloud, up to and including developing wireframes as an Interaction Designer.

    I think this is going to work out well for Google.

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