Story image

Chrome OS is five years old and ready to leave kindergarten

05 Jul 16

Initially released on June 15, 2011, Google’s Chrome OS is now five years old.

Preinstalled on Chromebooks (laptops), Chromeboxes (desktops), and Chromebits (dongles), Chrome OS flipped the traditional model of personal computer operating systems on its head by making the web browser the operating system. The result was a less complex and more secure computing experience for the end user and lower total cost of ownership for the owner. Chromebooks now account for more than half of all devices sold for US classrooms, so the time has come for Chrome OS to prove its worth in the workplace and the home.

Chrome OS is well suited to many of today’s PC usage scenarios including segments of the enterprise market

Google’s products, such as Android, Gmail, and Google Chrome, are a hit with consumers and business users alike, yet Chrome OS has struggled to make any real impact outside of niche markets. One of the reasons for this lacklustre performance is undoubtedly the massive appeal and uptake of Android and iOS mobile devices. But what about the more traditional screen, keyboard, and mouse market?

Google Chromebooks have been well received in the education market, and yet it’s hard to see how this success has anything to do with the physical format or price point of the devices on offer. A similar spec Windows computer can be obtained for the same cost and is already familiar to teaching staff and technicians. But perhaps this familiarity is the reason why Chromebooks are gaining in popularity – after all, who has the time to fiddle around with configuration settings, application installations, and software updates with a class of kindergarten children to supervise!

The web browser is one of the most used applications in the enterprise, providing access to the World Wide Web, the corporate intranet, and a wide range of line-of-business applications. Productivity applications, such as email clients, word processing applications, spreadsheets, and presentation software, now run natively in the web browser, as do an increasing number of real-time communication and collaboration offerings. Extensions and apps from the Chrome Web Store extend the functionality of the platform even further.

So, why aren’t organisations flocking to Chrome OS, at least for some segments of the workforce? Google’s web-based management console makes it easy to deploy and control users, devices, and apps across Chromebooks, and vendors such as Neverware are extending the benefits of the platform (based on Chromium OS, the open source version of Chrome OS) to a wide range of existing enterprise PC models from the likes of Dell, HP, and Lenovo.

Chrome OS will be a familiar environment to anyone who’s used a web browser (more so than Windows 10 in some cases), and it’s already proven to be “child’s play.” The workplace isn’t a totally different place from the modern classroom, although the latter is probably filled with a little more imagination and inquisitiveness. Google seems to blow hot and cold when it comes to business and enterprise IT, so perhaps Chrome OS needs a more doting parent for it to thrive and succeed.

Article by Richard Edwards, Ovum analyst

How to stay safe when shopping online
Online shopping is a great way to avoid the crowds – but there are risks.
Hands-on review: The Logitech R500 laser presentation remote
With a clever ergonomic design, you’ll never have to glance at the device, unless you deliberately look to use the built-in laser pointer to emphasise your presentation.
Noel Leeming slapped with $200,000 fine for misrepresentation
“This prosecution related to multiple consumers in multiple locations. It was not isolated or ‘one off’ conduct.”
GCSB welcomes Inspector-General's report on intelligence warrants
Intelligence warrants can include surveillance, private communications interception, searches of physical places and things, and the seizure of communications, information and things.
Review: Should you buy the Fitbit Charge 3?
If you are new the to the world of wearables you might be wondering if Fitbit’s new offering is a good first step. Maybe I can help with that.
Hands-on review: Anki Vector is a step up in the world of AI
See how he responds if you annoy him. You can tell him if he’s been a good or bad robot and see how he reacts.
Homegrown stress relief app to be launched next year
Researchers at the University of Auckland and an Auckland-based creative agency are working together to create a ‘world first’ app that they believe will help with stress relief.
UPDATED Review: Blue Mic’s Satellite headphones are good but...
Blue has responded to what I described as an “insidious issue” of quality control - Satellite headphones deliver on sound, aesthetic, and comfort.