Chrome OS is an operating system developed by Google based on the Linux kernel. It is a reimagining of the Chrome web browser and it primarily supports web applications. In other words, this operating system simply functions as a portal for accessing the Internet and facilitating the connections and interactions between users and apps or data stored in the cloud.
Devices based on the Chrome OS—or Chromebooks—are essentially web clients with some mix of thin client and thick client characteristics. They are lightweight and energy-efficient computers optimized for interfacing with server-based or cloud-based computing environment.
The introduction and promotion of Chrome OS and Chromebooks mark the attempt of Google to popularize cloud computing. Nonetheless, although Chrome OS has several noteworthy selling propositions and advantages, it also has several drawbacks or disadvantages that make it less appealing than more established operating systems such as Windows from Microsoft and macOS from Apple.
Pros of Chrome OS: Reasons why you should buy and use a Chromebook
1. Fast and smooth operations: One of the primary advantages of Chrome OS over Windows and macOS is that it is a lightweight operating system that requires minimal hardware specifications to run. In other words, it is both effective and efficient when it comes to utilizing hardware resources.
Manufacturers of Chromebooks also use hardware components to optimize the operation of Chrome OS. For example, these devices use solid-state drives or SSD, thus featuring the many advantages of SSD storage technology. To promote energy efficiency, Chromebooks do not use high-powered processors and other hardware normally found in Windows or Mac computers.
2. Straightforward user experience: The user interface of Chrome OS is simple and clean. It is simpler and cleaner than macOS and of course, arguably more straightforward than Windows. Remember that this operating system is simply a web client or in other words, a web browser that runs in a Chromebook.
Setting up a Chrome OS is very quick as well. A user only needs to power on his or her Chromebook and log in using his or her Google account to get started. Maintenance is also very minimal. Google updates the operating system automatically and regularly. Unlike in Windows and similar to macOS, apps are also updated via a centralized system.
3. Integration with the Android operating system: Another notable advantage of Chrome OS is that more recent Chromebooks now support Android apps. This means that most apps that run on an Android operating system and Android devices can now run in a Chrome OS and supported Chromebooks.
The Android integration also means that the app ecosystem for Chrome OS has greatly expanded. Users can now download and install both from the Chrome Web Store and the Google Play Store.
4. Designed for average daily productivity: Google has made an interesting argument for Chrome OS. It believes that majority of computer users spent most of their time in front of their devices accessing the Internet. Hence, the operating system is built with web browsing and cloud computing in mind.
Of course, Chrome OS is not just a web browser. It runs several productivity apps developed by Google itself. Examples of these include office productivity apps such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drive—the counterpart to Microsoft Office Suite—and Google-branded communication apps such as Gmail and Hangouts. Note that more useful apps are also available via the Chrome Web Store and the Google Play Store.
5. Affordable and portable computer: Affordability and portability are two of the main selling points of Chrome OS and Chromebooks. The minimal hardware requirements of the operating system drive down the price of Chromebooks. Note that most of these devices are way cheaper than Windows netbooks or entry-level MacBook computers with a retail price of around $300 to $400.
The inexpensive price points of Chromebooks and their mobility make them ideal for entry-level users such as children and students. With productivity apps available via the Chrome Web Store or Google Play Store, they are also suitable for professionals tasked to handle office productivity applications.
Cons of Chrome OS: Reasons why you should not buy and use a Chromebook
1. Not ideal for advanced or heavy users: One primary drawback of Chrome OS and Chromebooks is their limited computing capabilities. Compared to Windows and Mac devices, Chromebooks are not capable of running resource-intensive apps such as full-featured photo editing and video editing applications.
A Chromebook is also not a gaming device, and Chrome OS is not designed for hardcore gamers. Although there are a large number of game titles available on Chrome Web Store and Google Play Store, prominent game titles available for Windows are not available for Chrome OS due to software and hardware limitations.
2. Better suited for a fast and reliable Internet connection: There are apps for Chrome OS that are developed to run offline. However, remember that the main selling point of this operating system is cloud computing. Hence, Chrome OS and Chromebooks are primarily optimized run less resource-intensive apps.
Most Chromebooks do not have large storage spaces. This is why most of the entertainment features of the operating system depend on online streaming services such as YouTube and Netflix for video streaming, or Spotify and Play Music for music streaming. Office productivity apps from Google are also web-based applications.
3. Unnecessary if a user owns other devices: Another remarkable disadvantage of Chrome OS and a drawback of buying and owning a Chromebook is redundancy. It would not be cost-effective if a user already owns another device running another operating system such as an iOS device or an Android tablet. Both iOS and Android operating systems have competitive app ecosystems.
Both Chrome OS and Chromebook are also virtually useless if a user already owns a Windows PC or a Mac computer. Note that the Chrome web browser, which is also available for Windows and macOS, can run Chrome OS apps. Both Windows PC and Mac computers, especially the portable variants such as ultrathin Windows laptops or the 12-inch MacBook, have the advantages of Chrome OS and Chromebooks with added features or functionalities.