Why Do Chromebooks Worry Microsoft?

Category: Laptops

Have you seen Microsoft’s anti-Google bash ads collectively sneering 'You're Scroogled' at anyone dumb enough to use Google products or services, instead of those from your old buddies in Redmond, WA? The latest attack ad features visitors to a Las Vegas pawn shop saddened to be informed that their Chromebooks are not 'real computers.' But is it true? Read on...

Is Chromebook a Real Computer?

“When you’re not connected, it’s pretty much a brick,” says one of the pawnshop-owner/actors. Apparently, bricks can now perform calculations, play music, compose email, edit documents, play games, and do all the other things that Chromebooks can do even when offline. While we have been focused on electronic advances, the brick-making industry has broken Moore’s Law to smithereens!

Clearly the Chromebook is as "real" and functional as any other computer. Microsoft's dishonest smear of the Chromebook, which is competing against poorly selling Windows 8 laptops, makes them look a bit ridiculous, and leaves a smell of desperation in the air. So why is Microsoft so clearly worried about the Chromebook?

As recently as a year ago, the price/performance differences between laptops and Chromebooks was not much to get excited about. To buy a Chromebook for less than $300 one had to make performance sacrifices that many users found unacceptable. But things have changed dramatically; now $200 will buy you a Chromebook that any busy, impatient business or personal user would find quite acceptable. Well, “almost buy…” I’ll explain after describing the state of the art in Chromebooks.
Is Chromebook a REAL Computer?

Meet The Latest Chromebook Models

Acer’s new C720 Chromebook (starting at $199) weighs just 2.76 pounds and is only 0.7 inches thick. It sports an 11-inch, 1366-by-768 resolution display. Under its hood is a 1.4 GHz Celeron processor based on Intel‘s new Haswell architecture. Acer claims a remarkable 8.5 hour battery life thanks in part to Haswell. Additionally, the C720 comes with an ample 4GB of RAM and 16 GB of solid state file storage.

The $279 HP Chromebook 11, announced in partnership with Google just a week before Acer unveiled the C720, gets 2.5 hours less battery life (on marketing literature) than the C720. Its display is the same size and resolution. It comes with only 2GB of RAM but has the same solid state storage as the Acer C720. It runs an Intel Celeron processor rather than the more efficient Haswell.

The most amazing thing about these two latest, greatest Chromebooks is that they’re on sale already; Amazon, for instance, is taking orders for the C720 at $240. That’s amazing because you can’t yet actually buy one and take it home; multiple distributors of both the Acer and HP Chromebooks are “taking pre-orders.” What does that mean? Presumably, it's “Give us your money now and if we can ship this thing at some point in the future we promise we will.” Probably not a good idea to gamble on pre-Christmas delivery at this point.

But there are plenty of other Chromebooks you can buy today. The HP Chromebook 14 sports a 14-inch screen and starts at $299. Samsung's Chromebook ($249) and the Acer C7 ($199) both have 11.6-inch displays. You can browse and compare these and other models on Google's Chromebook devices page.

Is a Chromebook Right For You?

Make no mistake, a real Chromebook that I can type on right now looks pretty tempting. It’s light, it’s energy-conserving, it does 99% of what I do for a living, and it’s cheap. If you have Internet available constantly and reliably, like electricity, then a Chromebook is a great idea.

The caveat is that you must rely on Chrome-based apps and cloud services. Your old-school locally-installed Windows software won't run on a Chromebook. But more and more software is moving to the cloud. And Chromebooks can do lots of things offline, even when they're not connected to that series of tubes we call the Internet.

There's really no need to download, install (or even buy) software for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, email, finances, graphics and photo editing, games or you name it. See my article Free Cloud Services You Should Know About.

Another benefit of running cloud-based software and files storage is that you never have to worry about patches, fixes or upgrades. There's no Windows registry to get fouled up, and a lot less data to back up. You can easily move from laptop to chromebook to desktop to tablet or smartphone; all your apps and data are available without having to copy, sync or maintain multiple software installations. Check out Google’s Chrome OS Help page to see if there are Chromebook alternatives to the software you're using now.

If you need to use software that only runs on Windows, and there's no good cloud alternative, then a Windows-based laptop with a local hard drive is the obvious choice. Some apps that fall into this category would be specialized image tools like Adobe CS5, games like World of Warcraft, and business tools. There are sub-$300 laptops that run Windows 8, but these are low-end machines that will probably make you wish you spent another $200.

Have you taken a Chromebook for a test drive? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Why Do Chromebooks Worry Microsoft?"

Posted by:

Carole
10 Dec 2013

I haven't seen the ad, but from what you said, Microsoft is afraid that others are going to take big bite of their pie.


Posted by:

Gilles
10 Dec 2013

Microsoft is still at war with itself. It used to be the OS division at war with the rest of the company. Now it seems old Microsoft is at war with new Microsoft. New Microsoft is promoting itself as a "devices and services" company, but its old self is still running ads saying that devices and services are a bad risk, because as soon as you're disconnected from the services you need, your device becomes a useless brick.

So instead of taking the opportunity to show it's ready to compete in this new market, with devices and services that are every bit as lightweight, easy to use, reliable, fast and inexpensive, and that can do more, they instead choose to retreat to their old position and promote buying a traditional laptop with the traditional Windows OS, because this new market is just too risky. After almost five years of trying to catch up in this market, not only do their ads show they don't feel they're ready yet, they don't even feel it's a good idea, regardless of what their new company mantra says.

Microsoft sometimes reminds me of old Ebenezer, who, when Marley's ghost gives him a final chance at redemption, wonders if it wouldn't be better if he just went back to bed. Which raises the question: who's really Scroogled?


Posted by:

Tony
10 Dec 2013

If MS ads are deceptive and misleading concerning Chromebooks which is the conclusion I've drawn from your evidently objective article, it seems odd that Google's legal eagles haven't taken steps to
(a) Stop them
(b) Sue for damages

I will now seriously research the pros and cons of Chromebooks' functionality and will probably use Google as my search engine.


Posted by:

Franklin Brown
10 Dec 2013

Microsoft once dominated the computer industry and engaged in questionable business practices to get ahead. At one time, they had a huge monopoly. It's nice that there is real competition and choice in what to get for a computer that is compatible across the board. I have seen the "Scroogled" ad and it clearly insults my intelligence.


Posted by:

john
10 Dec 2013

Every ad guilds the lily. Weight-training, diets and those other ones that promise to make a pickup truck waterproof with just one spray of junk. Best regards, john.


Posted by:

Greg Chamberlin
10 Dec 2013

Been using the Samsung ARM based Chromebook since May 2013 and it has become my primary go-to computer. Not my only computer - my Windows desktop machine is still used for scanning and document imaging and more detailed image editing and for those more involved projects where the dual monitors come in handy. The Chromebook is used for just about everything else, including doing most of the work for my small business. To say it is not a real computer is an indication that someone has not spent any time using one. 10 second boot time, no updates, no malware worries, no backup worries, no security worries and most of my app needs are covered in the Chrome store.


Posted by:

Steven
10 Dec 2013

I got a Chromebook about 9 months ago because I was going on vacation and wanted to keep track of volatile investments. I didn't want to spend the money for a full featured laptop that could replace my home desktop.

Now I've moved and my desktop is in storage 1700 miles away and the Chromebook is all I have. There are some minor inconveniences but all in all I can live with them. The $250 I spent still seems like a real bargain.


Posted by:

bb
10 Dec 2013

Hmmm. Microsoft afraid of Google? Could it be because desktops and laptops are dropping in sales whereas tablets and smart phones are rising? Oh, and Microsoft has roughly, maybe ~1% market share in tablets and phones vs. Google's (Android) 60+%?
It's not Microsoft's pie anymore; they're almost not even in the kitchen!


Posted by:

M G
11 Dec 2013

What about wifi security? Firewall, VPN, etc.? That would be a huge concern for me.
Also, can Teamviewer or similar be used to remotely call/login home?


Posted by:

Chuckj5710
11 Dec 2013

So, tho I'm not quite ready to break my ties with Microsoft just yet, I have tried Chromebooks (and the amazing Kindle Fire) and am thinking it won't be too long till this happens. The hardware/software price point is really hard to ignore.


Posted by:

John
11 Dec 2013

Although not for the same reasons, I too am worried about Chromebook and the like. I have learned one primary constant about electronic technology, since my introduction to my first DOS based computer is that, the less direct control you have with something the more money it costs you in the end. Just look at telephony, television, software and electronic services. When the magic number of users arrives, all those free services and use of product in the cloud or Sky Drive, it is going to be, a pay as you go proposition. And Buddy, it won’t be cheap. By the way, if my refrigerator worked as efficiently and properly as cellular phones and computers I would have a lot of spoiled food. I might be “old-fashioned”, but when I push a button, flip a switch, and hit a key I expect the same, correct, thing to happen each and every time and when the correct result does not occur, then it is broken, pure and simple. But, by all means let’s all go out and buy the Tablets and Chromebooks so we can have the latest and greatest of those things that do a much better job than last year’s stuff, when they are not malfunctioning or broke.


Posted by:

Carole
11 Dec 2013

John, what you just said, I couldn't have said better. Like you, I started out with DOS in the 80's. I still prefer a desktop with a traditional keyboard.


Posted by:

muvirimi
11 Dec 2013

i never liked these cloud based gadgets. it involves using a lot of bandwidth, they are good for those that get lots of free Gigs data bandwidth, i like the MS way where the one doesn't depend on the cloud. Though i do not subscribe to these type of Adverts


Posted by:

Morgan Fairlamb
11 Dec 2013

It is possible to add Linux to a Chromebook and get full functionality of that OS. I have not found the need but it's there if one wants both worlds.

http://craigerrington.com/blog/crouton-script-from-sd-card/


Posted by:

Tony
11 Dec 2013

Well John & Carole - I understand your premises which is somewhat like what people using horse-driven carts were saying when automobiles hit the marketplace.

My take is with all of his innate flaws and faults the undeniable strength of our free market system is competition - pure and simple.

Not intending to teach people how to suck eggs, but free and fair competition is what drives innovation and the improvement of better mousetraps or at least this was the case in my time.

Perhaps things have changed and large corporations have forgotten that their primary purpose is to serve the individual and have degraded into devious manipulation for which they will surely pay dearly and probably lead to their demise.

Our young people today are far too smart to be taken in by glib spin.


Posted by:

Carole
11 Dec 2013

Tony, I love your comment comparing horse drawn carts with cars. There are times I would like to return the days of old where I could saddle up a horse and go riding. LOL

Microsoft has recently been doing away with simple programs like XP and Outlook Express and turning them into Windows 8 and Windows Live Mail. My question to Microsoft, why make a mountain out of a moll hill when it isn't necessary? I bet if they still supported XP after 4/2014 and you could purchase computers with XP, they would continue to make money. There are so many new gadgets coming out on the market, it is hard to keep up with the latest technology. I refuse to go out & buy things, just so I can keep up with the Jones and spin the wheels in my head trying to figure how something is done. I've gone from DOS, to Windows 3.1, 95, 98, 2000, XP, Vista and Windows 7. That is where I stopped.


Posted by:

Tony
11 Dec 2013

Hey Carole, we must exist in similar time lines as I too have traversed and used DOS throughout the various flavours of MS Windows up to 8.1 which initially irritated me though through patience and perseverance have reached a kinda reconciliation.

Having said that, and probably due to my children and grandchildren adopting smart phones and tablets/phablets, I've gotta say how generally impressed I am with Google's creations particularly Android OS and various apps.

In short I've reached the interim conclusion that Google is an upwardly mobile smart outfit and thus I will continue my research on the efficacy or otherwise of Chromebooks.


Posted by:

Tony
12 Dec 2013

Tony, maybe after the holidays, I'll check out Chromebooks. I can probably get a better deal after Christmas. I was seriously thinking about buying a Mac computer, but if I take a look at what Google is selling, I may change my mind.


Posted by:

ChrisDSR
16 Dec 2013

So glad to see the Chromebook addressed here. I am in love with my Chromebooks. In our family we do almost everything on our three (3) Samsung Chromebooks. Email. Videos. Shopping. Ebaying/auctions. Cloud printing works very well too. Online they are a dream in comparison to ANY Microsoft product we have ever used. Chromebooks -- do not require updates, scanning or any other housekeeping. The CLOUD so many are worried about is also so handy as you can change computers and still access everything from your last online visit. You may save your passwords (if you wish) or not from an easy to use Settings menu. A nice feature is that each person that uses the Chromebook signs into the gmail account and has an individual history that can only be accessed with a password. The owner of the computer can allow guests to set up private access that makes the Chromebook a personal computer for more than one person or just surf as a guest anonymously . I am not surprised that they are selling the Chromebook before it is available. In fact, I pre-ordered two of ours through Amazon. I am delighted after months and months and months of trouble free use. I do prefer Samsung - possibly a personal preference based on HP and Acer we owned in the past, but to be fair they were both based on the Windows system -- not Google. One last comment - I see these delightful computers as wonderful home computers for anyone who is challenged with crashes or entry level knowledge of using a computer or being online. The safety net that Google provides makes this marvelous device (which I believe is somehow Linux based, correct me if I'm wrong) an extremely reliable, safe online gateway for the newbies as well as the more sophisticated users. Bravo for Google - they've done it!


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