The would-be Windows killer has promise, and some flawsChromebook: the good and the badGoogle’s I/O conference, which was held this week, was highly anticipated for one primary reason: Chrome OS. The internet has been abuzz with speculation that Google would officially release its long-awaited Chrome operating system. What the search giant announced was Angry Birds for Chrome and Chromebook. The first extends the birds’ global domination while the second could well extend Google’s already broad reach.Chromebook is a brand name for range of hardware from the likes of Acer and Samsung that will run Chrome OS. Both the Samsung and the Acer machines sport a 12-inch screen, a 1.6GHz dual core processor and either 3G or combination 3G-WiFi connections. The selling point for many is that the Chromebooks will be available on a subscription basis at US$28 a month over three years. However, there are pros and cons to the Chromebooks.Three reasons Chromebook could be a Windows killerPackaging and pricingThe Chromebook will be rented to users. A Chromebook will cost users $28/month (around R190) and will include regular software updates for free. After three years the Chromebook can be updated for no extra charge. Many businesses are already going down the ‘rent-a-laptop’ road, so Google’s strategy makes perfect sense because it simplifies the entire process.
Recognised brandThe Google brand is exceptionally well known. Google also has a reputation for being open and easy to use. Microsoft on the other hand is generally perceived as costly, closed and virus-prone. It’s a combination that could make a Google’s Chromebook fairly appealing to users.ApplicationsGoogle is well known for its free applications. Tools such as Gmail and GoogleDocs are already widely used. ChromeBook is built around exactly these tools and for many they will be more than enough to convince users to make the switch.Three reasons Chromebook may not be a Windows killerPackaging and pricingChromebook’s subscription charge might make a lot of sense to business owners keen to simplify their IT budgets but not everyone will like this. Over three years a Chromebook will cost close to R7,000, which doesn’t make it much cheaper than an entry-level notebook and more than many netbooks. The Chromebook is really just a glorified netbook itself, so it’s not that appealing a deal to large portions of the market.ApplicationsA lot of users may be more than happy with Google’s collection of applications - many others won’t be. How many of the applications that users already use are available through the web? In theory most applications could work through virtualisation software, and over time more and more applications will become available. For now however, users will have to compromise on which applications they use.ConnectivityFor many users, particularly in bandwidth-poor countries, this could be the biggest argument against the Chromebook. Because the Chromebook OS is essentially a browser it is almost entirely reliant on a decent internet connection. Without one, users will be stranded without access to their documents and applications; a disaster if you’re facing a pressing deadline.