Is Chrome OS Ready To Replace Your Windows PC?

Published by Lamin Kanteh on

Window vs Chrome OS

When Google first introduced its own operating system in July 2009 with a working demo released to the public in December of 2009, via the Google Cr-48 Chromebook and subsequent releases like the Samsung Series 5, etc, many were skeptical.

Though some applauded the search-engine giant’s willingness to go head to head with juggernauts like Microsoft’s Windows operating system and Apple’s Mac OS platform, Google’s web-centric platform wasn’t well received initially.

Now keep in mind that Chrome OS of old and the latest iteration of the operating system are two different animals. Chrome OS in this day and age embodies Google’s vision of what it thinks is the right approach to creating an all-around operating system.

Chrome OS, as you may know, is a representation of the technologies of the web – save for the Android and Linux containers – and how they will continue to influence and shape the technologies of the future in all industries.

Google wants to be at the forefront of this effort and Chrome OS is vital to its vision of conquering the challenges that come with introducing groundbreaking technologies. For all intents and purposes, It remains to be seen whether Fuchsia – which is supposedly Google’s current effort in unifying all its platforms under one umbrella – will be primary to this vision.

The question on everyone’s mind, however, is, has Chrome OS matured enough to replace Windows? Personally, I think Google has a ton of interesting things going on with the Chrome operating system that already makes it a legitimate threat to Windows dominance in the professional computing space. just have a look at how well they are doing in the education market. However, irrespective of this development, Microsoft continues to push hard.

Not to sway too far from our point of focus, here are some of the reasons why I think Chrome OS has become a serious contender.

Android Mobile OS

One of Google’s most valuable puzzle piece in the race of dominating the desktop space is its mobile platform. Having been around two years prior to the initial announcement of Chrome OS, Android was like Adam while Chrome OS was Eve. At first, the difference between the two platforms was evident in the way each was designed to operate, the introduction of the Google Play Store in Chrome has significantly closed that gap.

The reason for this – which was the source of much criticism – was that the search giant intended Android and Chrome to be two separate entities while still retaining similarities in certain functions.

At first Chrome’s interface was a bit minimalistic with Google opting for simplicity by having all of the user’s files from both apps and personal data residing in the cloud. This proved to be a challenge for those living in areas where access to the internet is difficult or inconsistent.

Google knew Chrome OS had to evolve if it would stand any chance of staying relevant. This led to the development of the Android App Runtime for Chrome. This was the first step in integrating Android apps to run on Chrome OS using a native client-based environment that provided all the grounds necessary for mobile programs to run natively within Chrome.

Though it was the right step, there were only a few supported apps during the Alpha/beta phase. Developers have had to adapt by modifying their apps to play nice with mouse and keyboard inputs.

Google’s understanding of how apps make a platform and having learned from Microsoft’s mistakes in their endeavor to merge their Windows Phone platform with the standard desktop counterpart via UWP, Google took it upon itself with the added advantage of the Play Store to merge Android and Chrome without much inconsistencies in the UI or caveats that would steal away from the intended experience.

This transformation was all in line with Google’s replacement of Android’s Co-founder and then senior vice president, Andy Rubin, with the current Google Chief and former Chrome Lead, Sundar Pichai, in 2013.

Since then, the direction for Chrome OS has been pretty straightforward, Convergence (Well, sort of). Fast forward to 2016, it was announced that Android apps are coming to Chrome. The announcement also ushered in new changes as to how apps will actually run on both platforms. First, it scrubbed the native client-based method and settled for a container.

Besides proving to be much more efficient, using a container meant Android apps would no longer need to be modded to run on Chrome. The container was designed to hold dependencies, as well as Android frameworks allowing Chrome OS to easily communicate with Android apps and the process, works even if the method was in reverse.

Opening the floodgates to the Play Store on Chrome OS is, perhaps, one of the best decisions the company ever took. With over three million apps, not only can the tech giant use this as a pitch to sell more Chrome-powered devices, it’s an added advantage that makes people feel more at home considering the ubiquity of Android apps.

With Android, Google is able to cement Chrome OS’s position firmly in the market considering how Android apps are the crème de la crème of the mobile experience in the world today; thanks to its “open” philosophy first, diversity second, and lastly, its dominance in the space.

Hardware

An Operating System is only as good as the hardware that runs it and the search giant proved this with the release of the Google Pixelbook and Pixel Slate.

With the Pixel Slate already joining an extended family of devices (Google Pixel phones, Chrome Cast, Google Home), Google is seemingly building a powerful network of hardware that aims to combine all of its services into a giant interchangeable mesh.

Project Stream

With the search giant’s competitors far ahead in the hardware department – with heavy-laden programs like graphic intensive games and video rendering software – Google knew it had to come up something to match.

This initiative came in the form of Project Stream which is the company’s answer to its lackluster line of hardware. As you may know, Chromebooks don’t command a huge following in these categories because they lack the graphical prowess.

What Project Stream is believed to do is leverage your internet connection by using it to stream extremely resource-intensive programs on to your device through the Chrome browser.

During a small demo and subsequent trial, the platform was shown to run a graphically intense game — Assasin’s Creed Odyessy at 60fps most of the time.

Gaming might not be the only use case for the platform, there are already several streaming markets — music, video, and even professional software — that could use the technology to create a better and flexible user experience on Chrome OS.

Tweaking Chrome OS

Considered to be more portable than a desktop and far more versatile than your laptop, yet tablets haven’t really been able to take a significant chunk of the market considering the computing category only holds a little over 3% of it compared to the mobile and desktop conterparts.

With that being said, huge OEMs like Apple have long tried to sell them as the “Desktop killer” or “Better than the laptop” claiming their brand of tablet devices give more back to user than desktops or laptops.

What Apple will not tell you though is that its iPads are just glorified iPhones and these device struggle hard with a keyboard attach.

Though several Chromebooks are released with touch interfaces and moddable hedges, the OS in its current form doesn’t particularly play nice in tablet mode.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has worked out their kinks thereby allowing a smooth transition between varying modes (tablet/laptop) on its Surface line of hardware and Google is looking to join the party with Chrome OS.

But, the past few months have seen Google work tirelessly on tweaking Chrome OS to work efficiently within a tablet environment, allowing devices like the Pixel Slate to flourish when turned into tablets and automatically become a Chromebook as soon as a keyboard and mouse are paired.

This is going to greatly benefit the platform and if Google could really smoothen out the performance issues and add more tablet-centric features to Chrome OS, it could succeed where Microsoft and Apple have failed in the past.

That being said, Chrome OS might not be the main focus or the biggest player, but with the recent strides being made, the operating system has undoubtedly come a long way since conception.

At the moment though, Windows/Mac OS seem to the go-to platforms for high-level users due to the variations of hardware and the number of professional grade software available, but if Google continues to improve Chrome OS and add more variations of to its hardware lineup, the platform shouldn’t just be able to compete but dominate the computer market in the not too distant future.

Categories: Opinion

Lamin Kanteh

I live, breath, and dream technology. I've only known myself to push the boundaries on what's possible in my mental scope in relation to technology. And having been a writer for the good part of the past three years (covering varying subjects on the major mobile platforms), No place has ever felt more like home than Chrome OS. And as you may know, Chrome OS is ushering us into a future of the unknown and I'm here to help in the process of easing the way into that future via ItsChromeOS.

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