Let’s compare Chromebooks and Windows laptops, and decide which one is the best choice for you. Before we start, I would like to mention that I’m a Chrome fan boy, still this comparison is not biased. 🙂
- Chromebooks run on Google’s ChromeOS operating system, which is based on Linux kernel. The ChromeOS is totally different from other conventional desktop operating systems like Windows and common Linux distros (Ubuntu).
- ChromeOS doesn’t come with many ‘native’ apps. It has a very basic image viewer and editor, video player with limited file type support, document viewer and editor. These apps work offline, hence you can watch your offline videos and photos stored in camera’s memory card, edit documents and listen music stored on local disk.
- You can install third-party apps from Chrome Web Store, which offer extended functionalities and features. Unfortunately, most of these apps work online and not much featured as the Windows programs. Don’t imagine a Photoshop like specialized app on Chromebook.
- Although most of the apps work online, the “offline enabled” apps are increasing rapidly. Still, most of these apps are stupid, slow, buggy and doesn’t offer much features. Windows has a great set of cool and featured programs like Microsoft Office, Photoshop, iTunes etc.
- ChromeOS is quite light-weight and performs smoothly even on ARM or Celeron based devices. It is highly power efficient too, that’s why most Chromebooks offer 5 to 7 hours of battery backup. Recently released Acer Chromebook 13 is claimed to offer 13 hours battery life!
- Chromebooks don’t support classic printers and scanners. You either need a cloud-connected printer or use Google Cloud Print service for your classic printer. On the other hand, you can use almost any printer and scanner with Windows without requiring internet connectivity or any third-party service. The same issue exists for many other peripheral devices too.
- Most of the Chromebooks have just 16 or 32 GB of storage capacity, while latest Windows laptops come with 500GB HDD storage. It is important to note here that Chromebooks generally have SSD storage which is faster and reliable than the HDD. You need to use external storage devices for extra space on ChromeOS. Thankfully, Google Drive is natively integrated and new Chromebook users get 100GB free space for first two years. Again, one requires fast internet connectivity for storing and retrieving files stored on Google Drive.
- On Chromebooks, you are bound to use Chrome browser – no other option. While on Windows, you have tons of third-party browsers including Firefox and Chrome itself. So, if a certain website is crashing on Chrome, you can’t use it on Chromebook. But on Windows, if a site is crashing on Internet Explorer, just try it in another browser. Well, you can change the User-Agent string of Chrome on Chromebook and spoof your browser identity as Firefox or IE, but it would not solve your problem in all cases.
- No Desktop! ChromeOS doesn’t have a real desktop where you can put shortcuts or important files for quick access. Thankfully, you can change the wallpaper image and this is the only thing you can do with the Chromebook desktop. (Checkout my this app for setting ChromeOS wallpaper).
ChromeOS is not designed to be a Windows alternative. It is aimed to be the future of desktop computing. As the web platform grows and evolves, ChromeOS would gain new features and powerful applications.