5 Reasons To Give Chrome OS A Second Chance

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why use chrome osGoogle’s launch of Chrome OS was one of 2011’s most disappointing moments. After much hype, several delays and endless speculation about the end of the traditional operating system we received a half-baked solution that lacked functionality and felt slow.

Since then, Google has been gradually updating Chrome OS. The user experience has improved significantly. Here are five reasons to go back and give it another go.

Better Performance

why use chrome os
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of Chrome OS was its performance. When I reviewed the Acer Chromebook last year I found that it felt sluggish. Multi-touch scrolling was jerking, multi-tab browsing was slow and pages took too long to render. The experience was no better than that of a typical Windows netbook.

Google seems to have addressed these issues. Multi-touch support is now silky-smooth, though only a few gestures can be used. Web browsing is better than the typical Windows netbook and multi-tab browsing is possible, though going beyond five or six tabs is still difficult if your experience is powered by an Atom processor.

I wouldn’t call the performance outstanding, but it’s surprisingly good given the hardware a Chromebook has access to. Users installing Chrome OS on a more powerful system would receive even better results.

More Web Apps

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The lack of competent web apps was a massive problem for Chrome OS when it launched. The idea of using browser apps sounds attractive, but if there’s no decent apps to use, what’s the point?

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The Chrome Web Store has had a real explosion of content since the launch of the operating system. And it’s good content. There are fun games to play, functional apps to use and plenty of extensions to install.

Most of it is free, as well. I’m sure this will no longer be the case if Chrome OS becomes popular (or the Chrome web browser becomes dominant) but for now the web store is a cheapskate’s playground.

Google Drive

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Just released, Google Drive is effectively Dropbox by Google. The biggest difference between it other previous cloud storage solutions is its integration with Google’s services. For example, the primary view of Google Drive looks exactly like that of Google Docs – and shows all of your files.

This is important because Chrome doesn’t have a decent file manager. Some improvements have been made over time, but even in upcoming developer versions its woefully inadequate compared to Windows or OS X. Google Drive largely solves this problem. The files that you frequently need to move or access can be stored in the cloud.

Critics will point out that only 5GB of storage is available for free. That’s a good point, but also somewhat irrelevant to the purpose of Chrome OS, which has always focused on less powerful computers with small amounts of fast storage. This operating system is still designed primarily for a secondary, super-portable compute. Google Drive supports that purpose.

Desktop Functionality

why google chrome os

Google made a big deal of its browser-only focus when developing the operating system. Since its release they have (thankfully) backed away from that point. The new beta and developer versions of Chrome OS have a desktop. And it’s a good one.

The Chrome OS desktop steals the best user interface elements of Windows and Mac OS X. The taskbar works much like the one in Windows 7. Pages and can pinned to it and opened later. There’s also a new app tray that is similar to Mac OS X Launch Pad, but it’s actually easier to use.

Since there is now a desktop it’s now possible to open multiple windows and use them side-by-side. This makes sense now that there are decent web apps to use. You might want a certain app open in one window and a web page open in another.

It’s Free – And Chromebooks Are Cheaper

why use chrome os

Chrome OS is still a free, open source project. This means that anyone can potentially obtain the source code and alter it for any system.

That requires some hefty geek credentials, however – way over my head and probably over yours, as well. Fortunately, a person going by the name Hexxeh has created a handy website with builds that can be successfully installed on many computers besides Chromebooks. If you want better driver support – let’s say you want to install Chrome OS on a more modern laptop or desktop instead of an Atom based netbook – you can try Hexxeh’s Chrome Lime project.

If you don’t have a laptop and are in the market for an inexpensive option, Chromebooks are now worth consideration. I particularly like the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook with Wi-Fi, which is priced at a reasonable $299 (down from $429 at launch). I still don’t think Chrome OS is a good choice for a primary computer, but if you already have a desktop or a large laptop and you want a portable PC, the Chromebook is a better choice than many Windows netbooks.

Conclusion

Chrome OS still isn’t perfect. Some basic features, like power management, have not been implemented. The design choices made create some unavoidable obstacles, such as incompatibility with Linux apps that should in theory be compatible.

Despite this, I now enjoy Chrome OS. It’s simple. It’s quick. It does what it’s built to do well. If you’d written it off before, give it another shot. You might be surprised.

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18 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

Lloyd

Google = Big Brother

That’s pretty much all the reason you need not to use it.

Mike

Prove it, you Troll.

Constantine

Noone have to prove nothing. If you ‘ re a stupid guy, its not our problem… go and search why g is big brother…

Gus

Yeah, on Bing!

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Charles Rachor

agreed. as a user of the prototype cr-48, currently running the dev channel with the newer and better looking interface, i can def. say it’s been nothing but great from day one. It is more of a supplemental device, and the software upgrades have made things better each time and even though i haven’t officially run it through any testing software, it seems to offer better perceived use of the limited hardware (things seem to run much more smoothly after every update).

I will say, it (chrome os) is meant for and much easier to use for those who are already tied into Google’s eco-system.

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Clyde Atwood

I think that easier is better. I don’t want to geek out on an OS. I don’t want to get MS certification just to use an OS. And I like security. Somewhere down the road, I think I am going to get a Chromebook.

dragonmouth

Simple things for simple minds.

If you want security DO NOT connect to the Internet. If hackers can get into NSA and DOD computers, what chancew do you think your Chromebook is going to stand?

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Art Johnson

go back, for what??
To become their Beta Testers again!? Sounds like another Micro$oft parody to me.

…and Big Brother? well, Lloyd you’re right. Mike, you might want to do your homework; big Google is now owned by big-brother.

Remember DoubleClick.net? Who acquired them? Check out the AmazonCloud and AkamaiTechnologies… the list goes on and on. We’re the greatest police state ever, which is why MANY countries are PULLING the Plug on Google buddy.
Do-your-homework, Mikie– you can’t hide(for long).

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Chris Hoffman

Very interesting. They’ve fixed a lot of the problems I pointed out with it (price, performance, lack of offline support, file storage, interface). I can’t help but think that they hurt themselves with the half-baked launch, though (just like Android tablets). There’s no real excitement for this product anymore.

It’s funny because Chrome OS now looks more like Windows than Windows 8 does — its default interface, at least.

And, for the record, Chrome actually appears to be dominant (top browser in the world last week, according to StatCounter.) I don’t think most Chrome users bother with the store, though. They hurt themselves there, too, rolling out an app store that was a half-baked collection of bookmarks at the time.

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basith

Generally I don’t read article on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to check out and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thanks, very nice post.

Reply

na

Google has turned out to be Big Brother lately. God knows what they do with my data. Chrome book ? Not me. Where’s my Fedora box anyway ?

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na

Chrome book ? No way. I’m sick and tired of US Intelligence agencies reading my mails. Chrome Book is just another spying device just like the iPad and iPhone!!

Tina

How do you know US Intelligence agencies are reading your emails? Now I am interested in reading them!

Seriously though, you are right. There are too many people messing with privacy. On the other hand, no one needs you to use a special piece of hardware to have access to what you do online. They simply need to cooperate with your ISP and it really doesn’t matter what computer you are using.

But yeah, with a Chrome Book or Chrome OS you would basically just work in the cloud.

Reply

zeeshan khan

To tell you the truth, I was never impressed by the chrome operating system. I am more into mac, even though I have a windows os. I will look more into this operating system. Thanks for this post.

Reply

Vipul Jain

Chromebooks for one dont seem to live up to the pricings, netbooks are way better.
Also the Chrome OS might be fresh but after a while, lack of features would turn you back to Windows or Mac..

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Ashwin Divakaran

Seriously Awesome!! No Wonder Chrome OS will soon be one of the most versatile OSs out there

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Sri Swaminathan Vanarasi

chrome doesnt at all satisfy the user needs and is not robust:(:(

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Darren Reynolds

I tried using ChromeOS first time around but to be honest I didnt really get on with it, always found myself going back to windows for some reason or another… I will look at this again though.. Ive got an old laptop kicking around which i might convert.

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