Since Google launched its Google Chrome OS, the use of browsers as an operating system has gained traction and likely will continue to do so. The Chromebooks use Google Chrome as the operating system as the biggest wide release test of the theory. This phenomenon is made more possible by the push toward cloud everything in computing.
What is Google Chrome OS?
In very short, Google Chrome OS is actual operating system developed and designed by Google itself and launched in 2011, so more than 8 years ago. The main interface of the whole OS is Google Chrome, the web browser developed by Google as well.
The main idea behind Google Grome OS is that everything is cloud, and you work on everything online. You use Google products like Docs, Photos, Gmail. And everything you do is automatically synced to Cloud and accessible from any device at any time.
Due to relying so heavily on cloud and internet connection, Chrome OS devices do not rely on strong and powerful hardware. For that reason the Chromebooks usually have above average battery life.
Chrome OS features
Even though it is not a full and robust OS as Windows or MacOS, Google Chrome OS is full of features which they market proudly:
Simple Set up: Google promises that switching to Chromebook is smooth, fast and easy. This is true especially if you are already using products like Google Docs, Photos, Drive, Gmail, Etc. Because all you need to do really is to sign in with your existing google credentials, and all is ready to go. So big thumbs up for this, ease of set up is very important.
Smart Search: The the Chrome OS, you can smart search all across your account and interntet with just one search field. You can see your files, web history, emails, and web results instantly. Of course as long as you are connected to the internet.
Chrome Sync: This is one of the most important features for heavy Google users. Chrome Sync will synchronize you browsing experience and tabs across all devices. So you can seamlessly switch between your Chromebook and laptop at any time.
Boots in seconds: Personally, for me this was one of the most important features when testing out Chrome OS Chromebook. The instant boost is amazing time saver and productivity booster. Long are gone the times when you wait minutes for your Windows to boot up.
Updates automatically: This feature has a lot to do with the “Boots in seconds” one. My biggest frustration with Windows is when “Windows is getting ready, please wait…” screen shows on start up. This is usually because of finishing some update, or something similar. By having Chrome book updating on the background, without any interruptions, is amazing experience.
Instant Tethering: You can set up your Android phone to automatically tether internet to your Chromebook OS device, so you are ready and online in seconds.
Google Chrome OS security features
In addition to the features listed, which are focused on productivity and speed, Chrome OS is loaded with security features as well. Every single Chromebook is equipped with Google Security Chip. This Chip is designed to encrypt and protect all the sensitive data on the device.
Another security feature worth mentioning is Sandboxing. This is a very smart concept, which separates each program on the device in its own sandbox, making it immune from any malware encountered on other programs. So in let’s say you manage to infect your Chrome Browser with malware, you can be assured that it won’t infect your Gmail, Drive or Docs.
Lastly, Verified Boot feature ensures that if anything unsafe is detected on the device, Chromebook will automatically revert to the most recent save version and boot up from there.
Experience with Chrome OS
Having used the Chrome OS I would have to maintain it is still a browser, not an operating system. It may perform the functions an OS have to do in a computer to make it function but it falls far short of what an OS can do in terms of enhancing productivity.
Pushing the drive towards the ‘light’ operating systems is the mobile craze. Smaller designs call for lower watt processors and chipsets to reduce the need for cooling. Heat sinks and fans are simply too big. Along with the lower wattage comes reduced capability.
Why the big push to ultra-mobile? It would depend on who you ask. The manufacturers all claim it is public demand and that is why. Obviously the tablets are selling well and no denying the popularity and utility of a smart phone. It is still very questionable however when you look at what is used for productivity.
When it comes down to actually doing work, everybody from student to professional reaches for a laptop or sits in front of a desk top. The tablets and smartphones are great for small applications to ‘enhance productivity’ but I did not pull out my phone to type this.
The 2 items most commonly purchased with a tablet such as the iPad are a hard case and cover stand and a keyboard. This would appear ample evidence that as much as manufacturers are telling us we want small and mobile we happily add weight and size to enhance usability.
The popularity of smartphones and tablets simply gave a method for the manufacturer to introduce people to the lite OS concept so it does not seem so foreign when you see it on a computer.
The cost factors are real but skewed. The Chromebooks look like notebook computers, we are told that tablets can do everything a computer will do and that our smartphones are having a computer in our pocket. None of that can be called a lie per se.
They cost the consumer less but that is because many of them are heavily subsidized. Much like Microsoft loses money on every Xbox and Sony on every PS3 they sell – it is the manufacturer giving price supports to make more money in a different way. It seems they are willing to subsidize the cost of a ‘computer’ that can be used primarily in a way that produces advertising revenue but not if it can run actual software of the consumers choice.
If you are looking to browse the internet, read and type an email, or watch a video then the browser based operating systems will be adequate and take advantage of the price supports. That is the biggest use of computers during non-work hours anyway. If you are looking for a computer to process files and data, do serious graphics or photo processing, or even to have decent performance working with spread sheets and publish programs get a computer with a full operating system.
So Yes or No to Google Chrome OS?
Generally speaking, Google Chrome OS has some amazing features and is quick as hell. But it is just not for everyone.
- Students need something fast and quick to read books and write notes.
- Business meetings.
- Travelling if you want something more than just a tablet for media consumption.
- Writers and blog writers.
Not Recommend for:
- Heavy PC users who need a lot of storage for media and other files
- Heave MS Excel users, doing lot of data analytics
- PC Gamers (obviously)