Chromebook Versus Windows 8

Category: Laptops , Windows-8

There are signs in the market that Chromebooks are preferred as an alternative to laptops running Windows 8. If you’ve been looking for a new laptop, but don't want the learning curve of Windows 8, you may find a Chromebook is the right choice for you. Read on to learn more...

The Chromebook Ascendancy

It sounds like a spy novel, and I'll admit to coining the phrase, but it's actually a tech trend you should be aware of, if you're in the market for a laptop, netbook or tablet. Especially so, if you've taken a peek at Windows 8 and it looks daunting.

Many people want to avoid the radical learning curve of Windows 8. Chromebooks and laptops running Windows 7 fulfill this requirement. But because Microsoft wants to promote Windows 8, a computer with factory-installed Windows 7 is becoming harder to find; you may have to pay extra to get it installed on a new PC.

A Chromebook is a laptop that runs a Google variation of Linux, instead of the Windows operating system. It departs from the standard PC configuration in other ways. File storage is mainly in the cloud, rather than on a local hard drive. Cloud-based Google apps such as Gmail, Docs, etc., replace Windows apps such as Outlook and Office. A growing variety of third-party apps are becoming available, too. (See also my article on the $199 Acer Chromebook.)
Chromebook Versus Windows 8

Chromebooks start up super fast, consume less power, and cost less than Windows PCs of comparable capabilities. Increasingly, Chromebook apps are capable of operating without an Internet connection, unlike their predecessors that ran on netbooks.

Netbooks, by definition, were small and comfortable only for a limited percentage of users. Chromebooks come in a variety of sizes to suit most needs. Most Chromebooks sport 11 to 12 inch screens. The $329 HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook has a spacious 14-inch display. Chromebook keyboards are similarly ample for many users.

What's Happening in the Marketplace?

Chromebooks are proliferating and becoming cheaper. A slew of other PC makers including big brands such as Lenovo, Samsung, and Asus, are also selling Chromebooks. The result is that Chromebooks are gaining market share much faster than Windows 8 devices. Acer CEO Jim Wong says that Chromebooks accounted for 5 to 10 per cent of his PC shipments since November, 2012. Windows 8 achieved only 2.26 per cent of the desktop market in the same time period.

If you just need to get ordinary computing tasks done -- email, web surfing, and word processing -- a Chromebook should work fine for you. If you need specific Windows-only apps, then Windows 7 is your best alternative to Windows 8. Take stock of your critical applications and visit Google’s Chrome OS Help page to see if there are Chromebook alternatives.

Chromebooks could persuade Microsoft to do what many keyboard-and-mouse fans desperately want: keep the Windows 7 paradigm available. When netbooks challenged Vista, Microsoft resurrected Windows XP as Windows XP Home and XP Pro, and the world became happier overall. Chromebooks give Microsoft incentives to offer multiple operating systems tailored to different market segments.

Just remember that buying Windows 7 puts money in Microsoft’s pocket just as much as buying Windows 8 does. If you really want the company to feel your pain about Windows 8, give serious consideration to a Chromebook.

Would you consider a Chromebook for your everyday computing, or perhaps for business travel? Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Chromebook Versus Windows 8"

Posted by:

John Napier
11 Feb 2013

Just bought a Google Asus Nexus7. Use my Desktop for heavy work. The Nexus is a great little box of tricks. Picked up how to work it a day. Quad core. What else does a 71 year old need!


Posted by:

Coover
11 Feb 2013

The "Cloud"? I go places where the "Cloud" is not reachable! 3 minutes from my home, the only way to reach the internet is by satellite. Chromebook? The "Cloud"? No way!


Posted by:

Jeri
11 Feb 2013

I am going to wait for Windows 9.


Posted by:

Jim
11 Feb 2013

I had some hesitation about Win8, but have come to like it rather quickly. It's more of a mental paradigm shift, especially without a touch screen. Office 365 with its cloud storage is also a pleasant change. For me, screen size is an issue and even a 14" Chromebook just won't do. I love Google apps, but on my Windows notebook, please.


Posted by:

Harold P. Morgan
11 Feb 2013

Hi Bob,
Just what we need....yet another OS to clutter things up.
I upgraded my desktop to Win 8 and I find nothing daunting about it at all. Right off the bat I purchased and installed Stardock's "Start8" app and now I'm operating comfortably off my familiar Win 7 desktop screen....and there is the familiar "Start" button down in the bottom-left corner. It is working just fine. In the meantime I'm working on learning my way around the new Win 8 screen in my leisure moments.
That "Start8" app from Stardock is downloadable for only $4.95. I'll bet they sell a zillion of it.


Posted by:

Rahul
11 Feb 2013

In this market, where does Ubuntu stand? It has been conspicuously missing from the tablet market.

EDITOR'S NOTE: See http://www.zdnet.com/2013-the-year-of-the-ubuntu-linux-tablet-and-smartphone-7000009254/


Posted by:

Naushad Shafkat
11 Feb 2013

Seems this was written at the behest of Microsoft's rivals. I love Google and it's Chrome browser but Win8 is also great. In fact the excitement lies in the learning curve. After more than 3 months of use I still feel excited using Win8. And you fail to mention that one could still continue using Win8 in the old desktop setting that many have grown accustomed to.

EDITOR'S NOTE: You caught me. I'm actually a robot, controlled by a conglomerate of anti-Microsoft corporate entities. Mostly evil. I'm not sure why they're letting me say this. I'll bet this comment gets deleted by the Overlord...


Posted by:

metathoughts
11 Feb 2013

Frankly, I like neither Windows (7 or 8) nor Chrome OS. Microsoft's attitude stinks. Google is a massive spy bot wanting to know everything about everyone. The situation is sick. I think people should seriously consider using an uncorporatized linux OS for going into the future. I am.


Posted by:

QuebecCity
11 Feb 2013

Windows 8 high learning curve ? I installed Windows 8 on a Vista basic laptop and found Windows 8 very easy to use. I am the type of person that do not adapt quickly. It took me several months to get used to the mouse when it became popular and I still am not at ease with the square pad on laptops.


Posted by:

rich
12 Feb 2013

As I await cataract surgery I find even my 17" laptop screen is not overlarge. So if the marketing game being played here is make them small then sell them cheap, I'm out of it. But in Windows I'm using all sorts of freebie Linux/Open Source programs that run on Windows so (if I can get around my aversion to Google's creepy snooping) Chrome would not intimidate me.
With my new Win7 computer I was offered a download of Win8 Pro at an extremely low price and took it. It adds to Microsoft's licence sales stats - but if it ever gets installed it will likely be by my heirs in order to sell the computer.


Posted by:

Lee McIntyre
12 Feb 2013

Naushad Shafkat wrote, "Seems this was written at the behest of Microsoft's rivals." You responded, "You caught me. I'm actually a robot. ..."

I'm wondering if the meaning behind Naushad's comment was more along the line of, "Do I sense a bit of bias here? Perhaps you dislike Windows 8 and/or Microsoft, and it shows."

Your reply, "You caught me. I'm actually a robot. ..." was cute, but it sidestepped Naushad's concern. As a very long-term reader of Ask Bob Rankin, and the Tourbus before that, I know it's not like you to sidestep a question, even if it hits a tender spot. :-)

A friend and ally, Lee

EDITOR'S NOTE: I wasn't trying to sidestep. I was trying to point out that I felt it was silly to assert that I'm a pawn of Microsoft, Google or any other whale in the fishtank. I'm agnostic about technology and user interfaces. Mac, Windows, Ubuntu, Android or Chrome... they all get you to the same places, in pretty much the same way. I like to point out alternatives to the status quo (with an emphasis on free solutions where they make sense) and highlight when certain paths are likely to be more expensive or challenging.

And for the record, I currently have two Android tablets in the household, several Apple iPods, desktop computers running Windows XP, Windows 7, and a laptop that's going to get a Win8 upgrade this week. (It will also have Ubuntu in a dualboot configuration.)


Posted by:

Sheri
12 Feb 2013

Thankyou for pointing out that file storage on Chromebooks is mainly in the cloud, rather than on a local hard drive and that Cloud-based Google apps such as Gmail, Docs, etc., replace Windows apps such as Outlook and Office. Because I find it very slow uploading files to Cloud storage and would never upload any file containing sensitive data to 'the cloud', where the service's security is completely out of my hands! And like others, I do not like Google's spying activities one little bit! Not to mention their tax avoidance schemes. So what with those considerations and the fact that Cloud storage is a big part of Chromebooks, I will definitely remmeber to stay well clear of them!


Posted by:

Bob Deloyd
12 Feb 2013

I have a Samsung ARM Chromebook and love it. I been in computing for many years and find that most people are not power users and really don't need all the bells and whistles and the pain of keeping a computer up to date with virus protection and software.
I also have an HP AMD laptop with 8Gigs of RAM and just updated it to Win8 from Win7. I end up using it now just for Skype to chat with my girlfriend and when I'm done I go to the ChromeBook.
If you haven't used one you have no idea what you are missing. Granted there are a few programs like Skype and others I miss, but the ease of use; lift the lid, type in your username and password and get to the web in less than a minute from a cold start is priceless. Shut the lid and lift it from sleep and its already online instantly.
It has a 6 hrs or more battery life; I did 6 hrs watching Amazon Prime movies one day and it said I still had 45 minutes left :)
I can even throw it in my backpack and take it to town with no worries.
So please don't knock it until you give it a try... you might just like it as a second knock about laptop that you'll end up using all the time as I did...


Posted by:

Matt
12 Feb 2013

I have a Dell laptop bought new in 2005. It came with Windows XP installed and has worked fine, but I got bored with it. I'm not tempted by either Windows 8 or Chromebooks and am dubious about relying on files in the sky since I never know whether Comcast is going to throttle my Internet connection so it can provide more bandwidth to customers who are paying more than I am. Consequently,after experimenting with Ubuntu and Linux Mint, I settled on Mint, because it is really easy to learn, does everything I might want to do, and makes my old laptop perform like a teenager again.


Posted by:

2Picky
13 Feb 2013

Bob wrote: "EDITOR'S NOTE: I wasn't trying to sidestep. I was trying to point out that I felt it was silly to assert that I'm a pawn of Microsoft, Google or any other whale in the fishtank. I'm agnostic about technology and user interfaces. Mac, Windows, Ubuntu, Android or Chrome... they all get you to the same places, in pretty much the same way. I like to point out alternatives to the status quo (with an emphasis on free solutions where they make sense) and highlight when certain paths are likely to be more expensive or challenging.

And for the record, I currently have two Android tablets in the household, several Apple iPods, desktop computers running Windows XP, Windows 7, and a laptop that's going to get a Win8 upgrade this week. (It will also have Ubuntu in a dualboot configuration.)"

Apparently the Overlord was watching. :-)
All kidding aside, Bob, I find your reviews and advice to be non-biased, helpful and always relevant. You've saved me many hard earned $'s and immeasurable amounts of stress and time. Kudos to you!


Posted by:

Nahoka
13 Feb 2013

My Windows Visit bit the dust about two weeks ago, and I could find one store in my little community that had Widows 7, so I replaced it with Windows 8. There is indeed a learning curve with Windows 8, but after using it for awhile it wasn't so bad. The apps I could do very well with out. The thing that irks me the most is that Windows 8 does not have an onboard email client like my Vista did. I am not fond of Webmail in the least!


Posted by:

DMC
01 Jan 2014

Chromebooks are perfect for me and my family. email, web surfing and word processing is about all I do along with buying and paying some bills on line. To just open up the Chromebook and be on line is great for my wife and 83 year old mother-in-law. And when there done they don't get hit with "don't shut down the PC is up dating." I have bought a Acer 720 and a HP 14" since Nov. and have had no problems with either, There are some things I keep my WIndows 7 for, downloading and sending photos. But I have not really tried to put the Chromebook to it's maximum test yet. It's just a nice machine to use for every day on the internet with no stress.
I liked Windows HP and Windows 7 after I learned how to use them, but the Chomebook is great right out of the starting gate.


Posted by:

Brett
08 Jan 2014

Chromebook is perfect for my use, and I returned an 8.0 laptop after five hours of fighting with it. Most people that post here are power users, Chromebook is not for that market, but rather for those who don't wish to spend their entire day at the mercy of Microsoft. I am an MS stockholder, but for me 8.0 is a disaster.


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