Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Google to Fold Chrome Operating System into Android (wsj.com)
510 points by sanatgersappa 546 days ago | hide | past | web | 480 comments | favorite

This is the worst day in commercially available operating system security in my lifetime. There have been bad operating systems in the past (pre come-to-Jesus Microsoft, like 98 and XP...), but rarely has anyone taken a great security product (ChromeOS) and merged it with the worst currently-shipping security product (Android).

This is a horrible day for security.

Most of ChromeOS's safety "features" come at the expense of not being able to do anything; ChromeOS can't run arbitrary malicious code because it can't really run ANY arbitrary code. Yes, yes, Emscripten, the birth and death of Javascript, etc. -- the fact is that security through uselessness isn't a recipe for adoption.

ChromeOS can do most of the tasks that an everyday Internet user might want. There are lots of people who are content with its restrictions. It's far from useless.

The update system on Chrome is wonderful, in that it just happens. No strange dialog boxes, popup messages or confusing options for the computer-illiterate. It just goes ahead and does it. A power user might not like that, but it is a great system for a huge userbase.

How many insecure ChromeOS devices are there out there? Very few, I'd expect. Not many other operating systems can claim this.

> ChromeOS can do most of the tasks that an everyday Internet user might want.

That's damning with faint praise, isn't it? It can, at this point, do MOST of what an everyday Internet user might want? It's that whole 80/20 thing that everyone thought would let somebody overthrow Microsoft Office -- 80% of users only use 20% of the features. Well that's true and all, but it's not the same 20% for everyone, and you only have to miss one feature to make a Chromebook an untenable alternative to a Windows machine. There was a brief window where Chromebooks were significantly cheaper than a comparable Windows laptop but Intel took the ARM threat seriously, Microsoft took the licensing seriously and now the base Chromebook price from a name manufacturer isn't significantly cheaper than the HP Stream or what have you. "Most" is not going to cut it now that the price advantage is gone.

> There are lots of people who are content with its restrictions.

This is really only true in that we live on a planet with many, many lots of people, and so you can find lots of people for which almost anything holds true if you funnel it down. ChromeOS market share is a rounding error at this point, and if there were any signs that this was turning around, Google apparently decided they weren't enough for them to continue.

Agreed. About a month and a half ago, my grandfather asked me for recommendations on a new computer. I asked him what he needed to do on his computer, and it was looking like a Chromebook (or in his case, more likely a Chromebox) would be perfect, until he mentioned that he runs Quicken. And my mother (an accountant) was emphatic that Quicken Online was no substitute.

Also in agreement. 1% of the use can make 99% of the difference.

And the worst part is that last 1% is different for 99% of people. ;)


Interesting point. I switched to a Mac 10 years ago, and to this day the only software I still fire up a Windows virtual machine for is Quicken. (Quicken Australia never made a Mac version.)

I don't know how old your grandfather is, but Chrome OS is a much better choice than Windows for an elderly person. The sheer power of Windows combined with the most malware of all OSes and unnecessarily frequent UI changes make Windows the very worst OS for the elderly. OS X is better than Windows in this regard, and iOS is better still. Chrome OS is just great for old folks and Chrome OS devices are extremely cost competitive (Chromebooks are cheaper!) with Apple devices.

But... it doesn't have Quicken. And he just said that his grandfather needs Quicken. I, uh, you didn't even address that part!

The comment to which I replied said Quicken Online was no substitute according to the mother. Maybe it's no substitute in sheer power, but still a passable substitute? The elderly benefit from giving up some power in exchange for less system maintenance.

Having an elderly family member struggle to stay up on Windows is super sad to watch and try to help with. I personally definitely wish that I had been more proactive migrating my grandfather to a more locked-down system when he was slightly younger and had a better capacity to adapt.

If the grandfather really is elderly, like older than 75 or 80, I would push in the direction of asking the question "Does he really need Quicken anyway, or maybe he's at a point where he could give up that responsibility, or compromise with Quicken Online?"

> still a passable substitute

I've never met anyone who said it was, so I doubt it. Stop being a blind advocate and realize that some people do need Windows because they need apps that only run on Windows.

It's a trade-off. In my grandpa's case, he would love now to give up Photoshop in exchange for freedom from a litany of Windows nuisances (viruses, registry issues, major UI changes - things many of us forget about that use OS X or Linux). Unfortunately, that ship has sailed; he's 93 now and while not necessarily senile, he has real trouble grokking the cloud and therefore Chrome OS is prohibitively confusing.

When I'm in a pessimistic mood, I can see a day where we return to $4000+ "developer" machines. I think Doctorow wrote about the war on General Purpose Computing. It turns out that developers and power users were casualties in the race to protect users from themselves.

It already happened. I cannot seriously buy a laptop under € 1000 for work.

The screen, keyboard, case and battery quality are a joke in most offerings, not to mention most lack dedicated GPUs or specific BIOS features.

But if you needed to (and had lots of patience…), you could get your whole development stack on a $250 notebook, because there's $250 notebooks with Windows, or where you can install Linux etc.

Granted, it's not as productive (trackpoint or riot!), but it works.

But with the increasing tivoization of computing? Once below-1000€-laptops/desktops disappear in favour of oversized tablets, how are children going to learn coding? People in developing countries? Poor people in developed countries? Not everyone can afford a 1000€ price tag. Should these people really be excluded from everything that isn't mindless passive consumption?

> Once below-1000€-laptops/desktops disappear in favour of oversized tablets, how are children going to learn coding?

Simple enough; they'll code on tablets.

I'm actually currently working on a prototype for how a simple, useful development environment might look on a phone or tablet. It's a stack-based concatenative array language with a zoomable user interface. Instead of representing code as lines of text, it takes a more Smalltalk-like approach of a live environment. The benefit of being a concatenative language is that it naturally lends itself to a tree-like format where each word can be viewed and edited on a phone screen. Since semantically it's closer to a weird mashup of J and Perl(!), it can be concise (hopefully still readable) and the vector aspect makes drawing graphics pretty straightforward.

The downside, of course, is that it can be quite hard to reason in. Truthfully, I'm not really sure how to work around that—and I don't think most children will easily think in a function composition/matrix manipulation way. That said, I'd like to find something since I'm fairly sold on the idea that tacit programming with arrays is key to making coding on a tablet work (I think it's fairly clear that imperative or even conventional function languages would be a royal pain to use in such an environment). Maybe something Lisp-like where the user zooms around the AST would be an alternative.

> Poor people in developed countries?

Much cheaper phones and tablets are already vastly more popular than laptops or desktops among poor people. The solution is to move coding forward on mobile, not simply keep rather trashy cheap laptops around.

> Since semantically it's closer to a weird mashup of J and Perl(!), it can be concise (hopefully still readable)

I see you've chosen well known readable languages as your inspiration ;)

Easy: Just build a PC! It's not hard and it can be dirt cheap. Look at this: http://choosemypc.net/build/?budget=400&oc=false&options=,os

That's what I was thinking. Off the top of my head (not 100% checking compatability, but with current Newegg prices), to replace my current machine, not counting the 24 inch 1080p monitor (which in my experience last a long time as long as a tornado doesn't throw rocks into them (really)) and keyboard, mouse, etc.:

  Supermicro XnSAE workstation motherboard: 215
  3.3GHz 4 core Xeon E3-1226 CPU w/HDMI out: 217
  32 GiB DDR3 1600 ECC Kingston memory: 240
  Low end 1/3 w/year for 5 years data center 80GB Intel SATA SSD: 100
  Seagate "enterprise" <550/TB/year 4 TB hard disk: 210
982 USD plus shipping plus whatever enclosure, power supply, high quality fans etc. you put into it, which ought not go over $200 new. E.g. after discovering a Lian-Li enclosure I love I bought 3 more and cycle through them.

Plus backup, however you do that (make sure critical stuff is offsite!). And, say, a man-week of your time to configure, order, build, install and configure Linux. The result will be very fast and rock solid (well, if put behind a good UPS) workstation class machine with a 5 year design life.

I think it's just a matter of time for that trend of exclusively mobile/dumb devices to start reversing especially as phones/tablets increase in processing power. Canonical already showed us it is possible to run both Android and a full desktop OS on the Android kernel years ago[1], MS Surface tablets are basically laptops without a fixed hinge between the keyboard and screen.

I see at least one clear profit motive for the industry here, let's say you have a "Desktop enabled, smart" smartphone, you'll probably want to buy a dock, screen, keyboard, mouse, productivity software, etc.


> Once below-1000€-laptops/desktops disappear in favour of oversized tablets, how are children going to learn coding?

The same way we learned since the late 70's on the home computers.

Installing some kind of application that allows coding.

The only difference being that BASIC or Forth were already builtin.

While maybe this won't always be the case, the current chromeOS structure allows for arbitrary code, you just have to enable a development mode. The process for doing that is well documented. I don't have a problem with a computer that comes restricted as long as there is a documented process for un-restricting it. Same reason I don't find SIP in OS X or Secure Boot a problem. Security features are good as long as they are configurable.

Configurability can be taken away easily.

Secure Boot is the best example for that:

• On Windows RT devices it always was mandatory and could not be disabled.

• On Windows 8 devices, manufacturers must give users an option to disable it.

• On Windows 10 devices, it is now in the manufacturer discretion whether it can be disabled or not.

The next step is obvious.

Right, that's a problem. I fully agree with you on that. I just think it's important that fight for the right thing. Secure Boot isn't the problem. In fact, most people probably should leave it on because it's a good security feature. It is absolutely critical that these features work for users and not against them though.

Funny you should mention Microsoft Windows. As I understand it, the phone OS is now unified with tablet and desktop - but you still can't run anything but windows on a windows phone. I don't expect them to offer up the driver source code (all though that would be nice) - but an open boot loader would be a start.

I suppose it's no surprise. It goes something like this: a) underwrite the device (not necessarily lose money on every sale, just lower the margins), b) introduce an app store, c) take a cut of every transaction.

As long as users and developers need your OS, your device - your appstore - you will make money.

> Once below-1000€-laptops/desktops disappear in favour of oversized tablets, how are children going to learn coding?

There's plenty of free, on-device code editor, compiler/interpreter, etc. apps for Android, including ones that will allow you to run code in the app, or build, package, and install (given that you've enable non-Store installation) Android apps right on the device.

I think there is a difference in not wanting to buy a cheap laptop because of build/hardware quality, and not being able to buy a cheap laptop because it won't let you run arbitrary code. One's a choice you make because you have the money to afford a nicer laptop. The other makes it even harder for the less fortunate to understand computers.

We are just going back to the whole packaged solution of the home computers in the 80's and 90's.

I and many others did learn computing on those systems, so apparently it isn't a show stopper to learn.

How is a locked down tablet/laptop in any way similar to a computer with a built-in compiler/interpreter and a full hw schematic available in the manual?

Not all of them were like that.

I don't remember getting any compiler or interpreter for Amiga, Atari or Apple Mac. You had to pay for them and the schematics were part of the OS SDK, also commercial.

Also going besides the ROM BASIC or Forth meant buying a compiler/interpreter.

The app stores are full of them, just pick one.

I know the Amiga manuals (Amiga 2000) was very well documented, a friend fixed ours by measuring the various documented points on the main board, finding a poorly soldered component or fried transistor (I forget the details).

AFAIK Arexx was part of Worbench? But yes, you did need to get a compiler/interpreter for that. I thought you were talking about stuff like the C64 generation of computers.

I remember there were GNU tools available for the Amiga, and some magazines came with various development tools -- eg: Blitz Basic. But most were certainly commercial (including Blitz Basic) - but one must consider that even with aminet - there was nothing like the essentially free distribution of today (eg: push to github).

According to this site, Amiga Basic was actually bundled with the machine (note-section: "bundled basic language interpreter (free with machine)"):


> The app stores are full of them, just pick one.

Did Apple change their policy of allowing development tools? They certainly don't allow the creation of apps on the ipad/iphone as far as I know?

> Did Apple change their policy of allowing development tools? They certainly don't allow the creation of apps on the ipad/iphone as far as I know?

A few of the best ways to learn coding on the move





GLSL Studio




There are plenty more, one just needs to search for them.

Also they are pretty cheap compared to what I used to pay for, back in those days.

> > There are lots of people who are content with its restrictions.

Much of the use of ChromeOS and ChromeBooks is in education (where they compete with Macs and iPads), where the buyers are not the users, and the restrictions are actually part of the appeal. It's a decent niche I guess, it's just that but when I see some of the newer Chromebooks with Core-i5 processors, I can't but feel it's a waste of horsepower.

What you're saying flies in the face of the growing evidence that many people are happy with a computing device (phone, tablet) that can't do everything, but can do a lot.

I bought my mom a Chromebook and she loves it. I think the group of users who are willing and able to do all their computing tasks inside a browser window is larger than you think.

ChromeOS is portable browser. And Google has shaped the eco-system to ensure that that is all 50% of the userbase needs. This is an achievement.

Nobody I know kept their chromebook as their main computer for very long because it wasn't able to do the things they wanted to do with their computer. The only people I know who have kept using it wiped it and installed Ubuntu.

Representative sample concerns aside... I've had one for 2 years and am still very actively using it and considering chromeboxes to replace aging PCs at my place and for some of my relatives (come being on the tech illiterate side of the spectrum, while others ran IT departments in their days). I use it for my kids (3 and 6 yo at the moment) and they use it way more than the tablets (not useful enough for them) or the "real" PCs (yet too unapproachable for them without supervision except for basic workflows).

It's not my "main" computer though, but that was never the problem raised in this thread. The fact is, chromebooks and Chrom{e,ium}OS are very decent platforms for all kinds of users, and they are indeed pretty safe to run. And I often do as others said: I ssh from the chromebook to my other PCs in other rooms, or remote servers, etc...

It's also a great device when travelling if you have a 4G phone providing connectivity or you stop in hotels or conferences with WiFi (I wonder if there's been attempts to bring one to a DefCon or pwn conference to see how it holds... haven't checked).

Sure I find that it hads plenty of shortcomings. But most of them are stuff that are shortcomings for me, professional CS/IT dev/tester/consultant/trainer/teacher/etc... Lots of other user groups will also probably fine shortcomings (like the "elderly" person mentioned requiring Quicken), but it doesn't mean you can't work around the issue (substitute it, use quicken from another machine, etc...).

It surely isn't all-purpose or perfect, but it's still great.

I wholeheartedly agree that I'd be deeply sad to see it sank, way more than I'd have been to see it merged the other way around.

That being said, as recently Android Apps were starting to be available on ChromeOS via the Chrome Web Store and worked decently for the most part, I'm curious to see what the actual integration/folding will be. Because it may be largely marketing-oriented to make Android the prominent part (or just the prominent brand) as it's way more popular in terms of user and device share (billions vs probably a few millions, if even that).

EDIT: And Pichai's quote does not worry me too much until I see something happening: "mobile as a computing paradigm is eventually going to blend with what we think of as desktop today."

In fact, the article seems mostly unsubstantiated, so as long as I don't see an announcement from Google I think I'm not letting go of my chromebook and ChromeOS. :)

Well there is a huge oversight in the fact that enabling developer mode options (namely for crouton- running ubuntu in parallel) completely nixes any promise of security. I love ChromeOS, and I agree with all the above sentiments, but I wish they had better support for securely running virtual Linux distros!

> ChromeOS can do most of the tasks that an everyday Internet user might want.

Sure, if you say so it must be true.

> How many insecure ChromeOS devices are there out there?

How many ChromeOS devices in absolute numbers are out there and what is the target audience of 200$ laptops?

If I were a hacker, I would certainly not target this platform.

Why doesn't anyone buy them then?

They're very popular in education (http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/marketplacek12/2015/05/sixty_...). Mainly because they are inexpensive, a lot more versatile and better suited than iPads, the previous hype in education (see for instance the LA iPad debacle http://www.wired.com/2015/05/los-angeles-edtech/). Also, many schools are already using Google services: Gmail, Drive, Calendar, and now Google Classroom is becoming huge.

Not that I agree with their use in education, but "a lot more versatile"? I can't think of anything that a chromebook can do that the iPad can't but I can vice versa. The only advantage I see to a chromebook is a built-in keyboard (and price)

A built-in keyboard is huge for the classroom. Chromebooks in classrooms end up being used largely for written work (typing long essays, creating presentations, etc.) that an iPad is less amenable to than a laptop.

iPads can use external keyboards, though.

Another thing to break or to lose, and to charge, and it adds to the cost. A $200 chromebook blows away a $600 ipad+keyboard combo for majority of education purposes. Google also has much better deployment & operations for devices & apps.

Source: I know lots of people who deploy and manage these in schools.

Apparently (I don't work in that space) it's very useful to system administrators that Chromebooks are essentially stateless and fungible.

I have a 150$ chrome book and it fucking rocks. Does everything I need to do on the web, and I can do javascript/webgl dev on the road.. battery lasts FORever... really amazing machines.

I made a computer illiterate friend get one because I was sick of doing tech support for his windows Lappie and he loves it, and has had zero probs with it.. the only time he's called me with a problem with it was when he was trying to some fucking exe to win a free ipod. CHROME os rocks.

Got my mother-in-law one for the same reasons. She loves it.

I can't reply to ohitsdom (below), but Chromebooks have a hardware switch for "developer mode" which let you run a command line.

There's also in-browser VPNing.

What application(s) do you use for development on the Chromebook?

For me? SSH and a VPS. I don't need whatever random crap I decide to `wget && tar x && ./configure` to have any risk of infecting my browser session. And I can keep my VPS up-to-date just by getting a new one from The Cloud every so often, and it comes out way cheaper than buying a beefy developer laptop periodically. I've had the same, low-end Chromebook for almost two years now and barely feel any need to upgrade it.

How can you seriously answer "SSH and VPS" as apps for development ON the Chrombook? They run on there, but you are not doing development on the machine.

It's like driving a little remote control car to the shops and claiming that you went. You didn't.

I could walk into a library and use a terminal there to type code in, but I'm not doing development on that machine - it's just a dumb terminal.

Now I understand the fact that you can remotely connect somewhere else to do work, but the advent of the microcomputer has meant that you shouldn't need to do that. Power usage for the earth will not be great if everyone runs a device that needs power locally, over a network system that needs powered routers, to a computer remotely that needs power just so you can type code in.

That really doesn't make sense.

I don't think the math works out the way you think it does. If 10 people share a 1000 watt server, that's better than each of them running a 300 watt pc.

I agree that in the context of this (sub)thread, it's a bit odd to claim that chromebooks are decent developer workstations, when what's meant is that they're decent dumb terminals. I'd still like to run my code on my dumb terminal - but I think it makes perfect sense to work like that - have something dumb and wireless for human interaction, and data/processing on a dedicated piece of kit. Be that a low power intel cpu and ssd in a small box behind the tv, or something in a rack somewhere.

> Now I understand the fact that you can remotely connect somewhere else to do work, but the advent of the microcomputer has meant that you shouldn't need to do that.

And the advent of dynamic libraries has meant we shouldn't need Docker, but, well, that's how it is. It's true that in an ideal world we shouldn't need such a mechanism, but in practice this system works very well for me, and the other ones have been frustrating.

I need a working internet connection anyway to do work: I need everything from software updates to GitHub to IM with coworkers to Google and StackOverflow. And the remote machine shouldn't need any more power than my local one. So my added power consumption is just that of my Chromebook, which is about 10 W.

I admit freely that I am not fulfilling the definition of "development on the Chromebook" in a strict sense, but it is certainly a serious answer for how I develop on my Chromebook.

You could install crouton without a DE and use the built-in shell to do whatever you wanted if you had a need to do development work and wanted to use ChromeOS without a full graphical Ubuntu install. You would have access to apt and vim.

I did this for a while, except my thin client was an X1 Carbon (!)

Have you calculated how much it's costing you?

I ended up scripting up a way to find the cheapest Spot Instance price from Amazon for whatever workload I needed - if I was doing builds I wanted the 8 core machines (c4.2xlarge?). They're ~11c an hour as a Spot Instance, although it's 3x the amount for a Windows instance, and I'd be pushed out of the market if everyone started doing this.

I think I was averaging a couple of dollars a day, so I suppose it comes out in favour of using AWS all the time.

So my current VPS is a non-virtual Kimsufi box for which I'm paying $28 (USD)/month, i.e., $336/year. I'm also paying about $10/month more for a cell phone plan with enough mobile data, which brings that to $456/year. An equivalently-specced laptop that is comfortable enough to use (lightweight, cool, not going to break on me, etc.) would cost me about 2-3 times that amount, and I'd want to replace it at least that often.

(Also if I had a powerful local laptop, I couldn't tell it to do a build, close the lid, and get on the subway without my backpack catching fire. Nor could I have it provide IPv6 to my apartment, host websites behind CloudFlare, provide shells to my friends, etc.)

If I wanted to put some more effort into it, I could certainly do a good fraction of my work (git clone, vi, IRC and email, etc.) on a micro instance. But even a couple of dollars a day would require me to be pretty careful to come out cheaper.

Sweet! Thanks for that information. Until my net connection becomes more reliable it's not really an option for me 24/7.

I think my costs would be a bit higher because Kimsufi/OVH/Hetzner are 300-400ms away from me, so the latency is a bit uncomfortable.

When I was in Canada, a Hetzner box was 200ms away and usable, but for ~$30 a month I only had a dual core box - a bit restrictive when doing large builds.

I might have a go at automating setting up a dev environment on AWS which can be torn down when not in use.

You are not going to sell in third world if your product completely depend on market.and thired world is where you can beat windows with being CHEAPER.and second fact nobody has internet like this in third world.Chromebooks are excellent product with Google fiber.but outside of that,not really(for me as someone lives in thired world country).because even with spending 90$/mounth for internet.my internet is nowhere near to run everything on the web.

Third world? Hell, we're having enough connectivity problems in the first world. Costs aside, a VPS is useless if your ISP connects your entire state with only one fibre link which can be felled by a once-every-few-years storm (UPC Austria and Carinthia, btw.).

I'm not much of an Amazon cloud user, but for compiling stuff like new Linux kernels, or big c++ projects (firefox, chrome) - having instant speed for almost nothing sounds good.

Could you share a couple of lines on how you would set that up? Spin up an upstream-provided basic AMI (eg: RedHat/Ubunut/Debian) - and run a few commands under screen via ssh - and then shut it down?

This is all you need: https://github.com/dnschneid/crouton

In the last couple years at least, Chromebooks have often topped Amazon best-sellers. Technically, a lot of people buy them. It's just that compared to mobile devices, laptops as a whole are a small category. Admittedly, most Chromebooks are bought because they are inexpensive (what virtually no one buys is Chromebook Pixel, which I have never seen outside Google except the ones folks got for free at I/O).

That is an US phenomenon. The only place I saw them in Europe was garage/discount sales trying to get rid of them.

I suspect that's a factor of there being very few models. A Windows laptop that sells millions is probably available in 20 versions, each of which is counted separately. Try searching for the current Amazon.com best seller in laptops, the Toshiba Satellite C55.

Amazon's best-selling laptop is currently a chromebook.

I think most of what that means is that Amazon isn't a first-party seller of MacBooks. (You can buy MacBooks on Amazon but I believe those are all third-party sellers.)

And other laptop companies release tons of slightly differing models.

power users just run chrooted linux on it and boom, fully functioning $200 computer

Or you could just buy a fully functioning $200 computer.

The hardware of $200 non-ChromeOS computers is worse; and with ChromeOS you were sure it ran Linux properly.

There is not a huge gap in difference, in terms of HW quality between a Chromebook and a normal cheap laptop (in my experience). Can you provide an example ?

I planned to buy a Chromebook a while ago and do exactly as the parent suggested, but got to the conclusion that it's just not worth the hassle (also, Chromebooks tend to have minimal storage, which is definitely not ideal in a normal laptop).

In general, Chrome OS or not, the HW (touchpad, screen and keyboard even more than raw power) in a 200$ laptop is BAD.

The Toshiba Chromebook 2 ( http://www.amazon.com/Toshiba-CB35-B3340-Chromebook-Celeron-... ) has a great 1080p IPS screen, 9 hours of battery life, and, from what I can remember when I played with it, a good keyboard and trackpad along with decent build quality, for $290. It's got a decent Bay Trail 8W Celeron processor, and 4gb RAM (there are also models with faster processors). There are Windows laptops around that price range also, but AFAIK none with that combination of hardware quality and specs.

How about the Ctrl and Alt keys, minus windows key? Fucking beautiful for emacs users. This story makes me sad. :(

As a developer, an unjailbroken Chromebook is my preferred local terminal, because all my work involves SSHing to servers anyway. The Secure Shell and Mosh apps work great (and I even use the Mosh app in Chrome on "real" OSes, because it's simpler).

Before Chrome OS, I ran homegrown minimal Linux installations with a separate user account to run Firefox. It was way too much overhead for me to be excited about maintaining, and paying $200 for a secure architecture and security updates by the most competent people in the industry was super attractive. I can do servers very well; I don't also need to do desktops, let alone my personal desktop.

You should try Qubes. It's not very hard to use.

Thanks for the heads-up, hadn't heard to Qubes before.

You mean as a server-side developer...

Not really; my previous job was maintaining a commercial Linux-based desktop. For that one I had a powerful local machine so I could run some desktops in virtualization; I hardly wanted to use my own machine as a guinea pig, because I needed that machine for actually getting work done. I did in fact have a desktop Linux machine on my desk, but in practice I just ran shells and Firefox on it, and half the time I was connected to my screen remotely.

A CrOS-like OS with the ability to run VMs would be pretty great. (And yes, I should check out Qubes.)

There's also pnacl, not to mention the fact that a LOT of what people actually do online is all done/doable in the browser alone. A modern browser is the most full-featured application platform that has ever existed in terms of what comes "in the box".

I'm all for allowing native applications a place to run, however that doesn't mean that ChromeOS was not able to do anything... both my parents and grandparents are all on ChromeOS laptops now... why? It's all they need, secure and I haven't had to remotely clear out any malware in over a year.

> both my parents and grandparents are all on ChromeOS laptops now

This is pretty much one of the two markets I've ever heard of for ChromeOS machines, the other being education space. What they have in common is that:

1) People want them for SOMEBODY ELSE 2) Because they don't trust that somebody else with the power of a less locked-down machine.

Sure, schools are buying ChromeOS machines... for the students. Not the teachers and administrators. It's too limited of a market segment for ChromeOS to grow a large enough userbase.

Actually, my parents got them themselves.. I got one for my grandmother when her computer crashed (I was so happy, I ordered her a chromebook and had it overnighted). She was so happy with it... My mom got hers after she saw it, and knowing that it didn't have to deal with viruses, all they ever did was browse, email, facebook. My dad got his about six months later, and my other grandmother got hers about six months ago.

They've all been very happy with them... well, one of my grandmothers has trouble with using it sometimes, her hand shakes, but that's a problem with desktops for her too.

I used one for about a year and if I were able to use the VPN to remote into work (stupid proprietary VPN software), I'd probably still be using it... I used remote desktop and SSH to other systems when I needed more for work, but was pretty happy with it. Yes, there were times I needed more, I had a desktop for that... one at work, another at home... most of the time I used my chromebook though.

These days aside from at work, I use my htpc for more web stuff than anything else... I've tried a few android and arm based mini systems for that role, but the experience was less than stellar.. currently an i3-5010u which does pretty well for my general use, and htpc chores. I'm on it right now.

Most people only use/need the web for home use... Chromebooks are great for that... There's even a few halfway decent general purpose email clients being worked on (one client to work over imap, etc for multiple accounts) as opposed to typical webmail. That was about the only shortcoming I really felt. Also, getting my private rsa token for SSH setup on the thing was a little bit of a pain.

I think Chromebooks will go down in history as an example of a very viable product for some particular niches, such as those that you mentioned, which isn't a big enough product to be interesting to Google.

Almost everyone not at work, and most students.. just a tiny little niche.

A modern browser is the most full-featured application platform that has ever existed in terms of what comes "in the box".

Except for an operating system, of course.

I'm not even sure it's more full-featured than non-OS application platforms, like Java. Mostly what it has is a large install base.

If you can be flexible enough with the definition of 'full-featured' to read as 'able to run/produce more', I would argue that 'the browser' – if it encompasses http, html, javascript, and css – is more full-featured than Java. And we wouldn't even need to argue that the former's install base towers over the latter's.

I'm not sure that I could create/style a Java based application nearly as easily as HTML markup and CSS though.

I've had the opposite experience.

That may be true, depending on how you look at it? JavaScript was the language that, as Eric Lippert put it, was designed to "make the monkey dance.[1]" HTML and CSS and JavaScript are all designed around this ethos of try to figure out what was meant and throw SOMETHING on the screen. It's very forgiving, and it's really easy to get up and running with it quick. I'm not sure that's the same as full-featured; it makes a lot of things more accessible than Java or .NET or Win32 or Cocoa. But it doesn't have the width of functionality they do (it is catching up, admittedly, but they're not required to stay static either) and it makes more complicated tasks more difficult, especially if you need them to be performant.


Most OSes don't have render/styling systems that come close to what a browser does at their core... you can do a lot, but those features you have to often work for, or use libraries on top of the OS. And if you consider UI toolkits on top of the OS separate from the OS that's another issue.

In the end it all runs on an operating system... so it technically falls short of that of course, but building a web-based app is generally easier than raw-coding an application from the OS level.

Is this some sort of elaborate troll?

> A modern browser is the most full-featured application platform that has ever existed in terms of what comes "in the box".

Nope, it was called Smalltalk.

Don't let nostalgia blind you: Smalltalk was great, but 2015 browsers are obviously a lot more capable. Not because of any great design insight, but because they need to run things like YouTube, WebGL and whatever else.

JavaScript is not the only way to do things; cf. Native Client[1].

[1]: https://developer.chrome.com/native-client/overview

Things that all software on the planet is compatible with if you would just redesign and recompile and ...

* chromebooks

* web browsers

* a turing machine implemented by having a grad student a car drive around on a long street

* https://xkcd.com/505/

Of course it might be a bit slower, it might take a bit more effort, time and imagination on the part of the user.

But seriously: it needs to run existing programs without recompilation.

That's beside the point made in the OP, which attributed Chrome's great security to its lack of functionality, which is just false. You argument is a valid one with respect to its lack of popularity.

That said, while compatibility helps adoption, it is not absolutely necessary. If it were, we would all be stuck with Windows computers in our pockets running on Atom processors having 1:30 hours battery life.

why do you consider running in a sandbox "useless" ? that's pretty extreme. you really can't think of any use at all for code running in a context where its ability to take power away from the user, and do things without the users permission is greatly reduced? Is your primary goal and idea of utility about doing those sorts of things?

..Or maybe you simply have a deficient imagination?

Couldn't you make a very similar argument for most smartphones and tablets? Their adoption seems to be going pretty well.

With Marshmallow Android is moving towards a runtime-permission-prompt model similar to Chrome. They've also done a lot of work on sandboxing using SELinux. Also, after stagefright they started doing monthly security patches and have gotten buy-in from the OEMs to push those patches. Android's biggest security challenge has been getting the manufacturers and carriers to update their software but there has been a lot of work towards changing that, from moving big parts of the OS to userland so they can be updated independently of the core system, to applying business pressure. Presumably updates will be easier on Chromebooks than on phones.

"With Marshmallow Android is moving towards a runtime-permission-prompt model similar to Chrome"

This is horrible from a usability perspective. Note that large bulk laptop purchasers (schools, large enterprises with mostly web application requirements etc.) have been the biggest markets for chromebook. One of the biggest reasons for that popularity is the lower cost of management of chromebooks compared to windows or mac laptops. In that the base OS not only just works, it also just updates. A huge saving in admin time and headache. The other factor is that all user data is automatically in the cloud, which means backups/restores/replacements/upgrades are trivial operations now.

One way chromebooks can retain this ease of use/administration is by basically shipping a laptop with chrome running on Android OS but no other apps installable by the user (outside of chrome sandbox). This will get Google out of the two OS kernels management business but could still retain the essential goodness of the chromebook concept.

> Android OS but no other apps installable by the user

There are quite a few device management solutions out there for Android that can white list, black list, deny all installs of apps. It's very common to setup in business and already completely supported.

It's even far more powerful than that with capabilities to do things like deny certain apps/networks unless you have certain password complexity requirements, etc..

> runtime-permission-prompt model

So each app will continue to ask for access to everything and you choose between being info-excluded or giving away your data.

> buy-in from the OEMs to push those patches

How does this work? Is there any legal obligation for manufacturers/vendors to provide these patches in X weeks?

If there isn't then I won't keep my hopes up.

> from moving big parts of the OS to userland so they can be updated separately from the core system

How exactly? By moving from Android to google proprietary apps? If so then this is a two-edged sword as it inevitably binds you to google spyware. Either you own an half-phone or you give away your data.

Sorry if I sound bitter but I see what Android could be and get defeated by what it is.

I never owned an iPhone but my next phone will be one. Maybe I'll still be disappointed, but at least won't have to deal with CM, Xprivacy, manual updates and all the other shenanigans.

Disclaimer: I'm an increasingly disappointed Android user.

> So each app will continue to ask for access to everything and you choose between being info-excluded or giving away your data.

I think you might misunderstand what the Marshmallow upgrade will allow. Users will have the ability to turn off any given permission for any given app. Don't want google maps to have GPS access? Cool, just turn it off and the app will have to deal with the lack of information. It's not a Windows model carte blanche per-run thing.

Sure, apps can be abusive and ask for more permissions than they need and refuse to run if they don't have them, but that's a problem with any conceivable permission system.

> Sure, apps can be abusive and ask for more permissions than they need and refuse to run if they don't have them, but that's a problem with any conceivable permission system.

The OS could give fake data to the apps. Such as a arbitrary GPS location, or an empty contact list.

Hopefully, that would be unnecessary. If my calculator app won't run without full access to my address book, I'll seek out an alternative calculator which will; at this extreme, with an open marketplace, there will surely be alternatives.

> with an open marketplace, there will surely be alternatives

Famous last words. Take a look at the Android store, it's a wasteland of adware-ridden crap.

Alright, time to take a stand.

If you can't find a calculator app that doesn't require your contacts/GPS, I will personally build one.

Be the change!

Marshmallow does do this for legacy apps that are not designed for the new permission model.

there's xprivacy for that

That's not something that developers would stand for. As a developer, I want to know that a permission was denied, so I can take action. If a permission I asked for was denied, it's quite possible my app won't run correctly. And I don't want to deal with idiots leaving crappy reviews because they decided to deny permission.

> So each app will continue to ask for access to everything and you choose between being info-excluded or giving away your data.

Apps under the new model will only ask for permissions when they need it. So, when you decide to post a picture to Facebook, that's when Android asks if you want to give the Facebook app access to your pictures on storage. If you deny it, it lets the app know it doesn't have access. If it's an older app that doesn't understand, it gets fake data as if you had no photos (or no contacts, etc). At least that was my understanding from reading about it.

Note that this security model is similar to web apps wanting to "connect" with you Google account (or Twitter or Facebook for that matter) to access your contacts or similar.

Sadly I am also an increasingly disappointed Android user. I have been with Android since the TMobile G1 and with the lack of security updates, the changing of what's acceptable in the UI every year at I/O (sometimes contradicting what they said the previous year), and the apparent lack of direction I too am ditching all my Android devices and going to the iPhone. Looked a Blackberry Leap but it doesn't properly support video conferencing apps for my entire family (FaceTime + Hangouts + Skype).

It's disappointing. I saw a Chromebook used by a "normal" person for the first time this week. He loved it. The only benefit for me was the fact you could run Linux in some sense on it, and it was cheap and stealable without too much sadness!

But this merging of browser-OS and insecure Android has signed the death warrant on my devices. Goodbye Samsung and Sony.

> How does this work? Is there any legal obligation for manufacturers/vendors to provide these patches in X weeks? If there isn't then I won't keep my hopes up.

When a user has control over updates, the company selling the product carries a relatively low responsibility. When a company does not allow a user to update, then that company carries a much higher responsibility.

If Google provides a security update and a company refuses to update their devices (or allow users to update), then that company has a lot to lose.

The Android ecosystem would be a lot better off if there were a couple large class-action lawsuits with big payouts. Companies really don't care until it hits their bottom line.

The liability scenario you claim will fix everything has already been the status quo in Android-land from the beginning. It clearly hasn't fixed the attitude OEMs have towards updates and security in thee last 5 years and other than outside pressure (Apple) continuing to make them look inept at update and support, I don't see any drive from within to fix the situation, and the Android-enthusiest attitude of "just put a custom ROM on it to fix your broken, abandoned product" only reduces the number of people who understand the problem and would be angry enough to file lawsuits or give bad PR a year after their purchase.

Still waiting for Samsung fixes....

We may be waiting forever... time to ditch it for a loss

Yeah, the problem is what to get instead if staying on Android.

I surely won't pay what Google is asking for their devices, given lack of SD card and changeable battery.

Plus, they also proved they aren't trustworthy by not providing a path for those that gave them money for the Nexus with TI processor. As if Google didn't had the money to keep supporting them.

It's like they don't care, which is sad. They have got into a great position to be a contender in the fickle horse-race that is the mobile phone industry, but the same horse is trampling the people that funded them to get there.

"What about security updates for my phone?" The hurdle is jumped, and the patron has the Google horse land on them, causing death

Unfortunately the latest Samsung devices don't have SD cards or changeable batteries either. They have apparently voluntarily eliminated two of their key differentiating features, not sure why.

If TI decides to leave the market, there's nothing to be done. You can't force TI to come back if they don't want to.

You can maintain the code yourself for the existing devices, that is a lame excuse.

Goggle has the knowledge and money to do so.

How can you do that if TI didn't give you the rights to it in the first place?

I hoped Google would merge Android into ChromeOS, a much more lightweight OS. Now they are stuck with the broken Java UI architecture (too much sits in the main thread, too many object oriented classes). Low latency UI isn't possible by the initial pre-Google (Android company) bad design choices. Even my high end Android phones is just as fast and responsive as the iPhone 6s but has 4 times as much CPU and a lot higher CPU raw speed and 4 times as much RAM. Beside that Android is the good guy, it's the Win95 20 years later - an universal OS that can be used for many things without restrictions. The Android 5+ UI theme is really outstanding great, I personally favour it over iOS 7+ and Win8+. Maybe Android will get HTML5 web apps as first party citizens. And don't forget about the lovely Go language.

> I hoped Google would merge Android into ChromeOS, a much more lightweight OS. Now they are stuck with the broken Java UI architecture

If, as stated in the article, they merge ChromeOS into Android, rather than abandoning ChromeOS in favor of Android (which seems to be how you and many others have interpreted it), they aren't limited to what is currently in Android, since they bring all the capabilities of ChromeOS are now in Android. A merger is functionally equivalent regardless of direction, which just becomes about branding (and its hardly surprising that Android is the more marketable brand.)

Ok, thanks for pointing that out, we will see.

There's nothing insecure about Android. It just gives a few more ways to install apps (side loading for example) which clever social engineers/scammers use to their advantage. It's like saying your credit card is insecure because you gave it to the homeless guy on the street when he promised to only buy a sandwich...

Android security is typically horrible when you consider that most phones ship with software that never gets updated throughout their life and has been put together in a quite haphazard way. It's not a fault of Android per-se but it's the case in pretty much anything that isn't a Nexus.

> It's not a fault of Android per-se

And that's pretty much the answer...

BTW, I've found Samsung to be decent with updates as well.

> And that's pretty much the answer...

Not really. Android got big because OEMs can do as they like with it. And what OEMs like doing, apparently, is not updating the OS on their device. An Android OS that, from the start, controlled OEMs in some way (by e.g. forcing them to ship updates on a certain schedule) would likely not have become a viable contender in the market.

It's not the fault of Android that OEMs are stupid, but Android was created specifically to cater to OEMs and their stupidity. Android's existence is itself the problem.

(It'd be great if their licensing model up until now was just a bootstrapping strategy, though, and they began requiring things of their OEMs.)

It would be nice if they forced OEMs to use stock Android and update regularly, but they're already under government investigation for requiring Android branded phones to use certain Google services like Play...

To a certain degree, they're forced to either be open as they are now, or sell devices. Given absurd government rulings, forcing stock Android on OEMs would probably bring an antitrust suit against them.

Wait how is Google under investigation when they are even more open than Apple, regardless of what they ask of OEMs?

Apple's market share is fairly small compared to Android, on a world-wide basis. And because Apple is closed and proprietary, it can do what it likes. No other companies are installing iOS or Mac OS X on devices, so Apple has nobody to mess around.

Apple isn't forcing anything on OEMs. Google is, similar to how Microsoft was forcing things on PC OEMs back in the day.

> An Android OS that, from the start, controlled OEMs in some way would likely not have become a viable contender in the market.

I'm not sure... From the start, Android was the only viable contender for OEMs. Their choices were create their own OS (good luck catching up to iOS) or take Android with whatever restrictions it had.

Don't forget that were alternatives and I'm sure the large manufacturers were playing Google off against Microsoft, Nokia (Maemo), Samsung (Bada), Palm (WebOS), etc. Those were bigger names in mobile than Google and it wasn't obvious that Apple was going to steamroller the entire industry so quickly.

As we saw, the established companies wasted years and billions trying to play their same games with customer neglect, pointless restrictions and marketing deals, etc. Android became big precisely because Google was desperate to get into the market and agreed to all of it.

My S4 still stuck on a broken 5.0 update has something to say about Samsung being "good about updates".

Thank XDA for CM, because otherwise I'd have to get a new phone not for hardware but because the software is unsupported.

Maybe it's a carrier problem? The 5.1.1 update does exist for the S4... And I guess good is relative, and has degrees from 'shitty budget Chinese/Indian no-name OEM' to 'HTC/LG/Moto/Samsung' to 'Nexus brand'.

As a counterpoint, I have a Samsung S3 that hasn't been updated at all since I bought it in 2012. It's still running Android 4.1.2.

Next phone I buy will be a Nexus for this reason.

Samsung? You sure? How about my Samsung P605 stuck in the past with no announcement or roadmap for updates?

Just like the Motorola before it, and the Sony before that, and the HTC before that. It's getting tiresome.

> BTW, I've found Samsung to be decent with updates as well.

My S3 is stuck with 4.3

Android's attack surface is much higher than Chrome OS's. On CrOS I can usually get away with running questionable NaCl code because the NaCl runtime sandboxes what it can do, and on top of that, the browser itself is sandboxed by the kernel. On Android, questionable apps have direct access to the entire kernel system call interface, as well as to other OS features.

Personally, I'm not so much upset because Android is uncommonly bad (it's like any other system that gives untrusted users non-root access to Linux: you can probably get away with it, but eh), but because CrOS is uncommonly good.

> (it's like any other system that gives untrusted users non-root access to Linux: you can probably get away with it, but eh)

This is far from true. Android has always had a ton of sandboxing. Every app is its own user, unable to interact arbitrarily with other apps, things like that.

You won't find any desktop OS that comes anywhere close to the security design of Android. But the thorn in Android's security side remains updates, or lack thereof.

> Android's attack surface is much higher than Chrome OS's.

Not really. All you have to do in CrOS is compromise Chrome (which has happened plenty of times), and you have owned the user. You've won. Game over. And Chrome's attack surface is huge, just like any other browser's. The kernel syscall interface is relatively tiny, and SELinux clamps that down even further.

>On Android, questionable apps have direct access to the entire kernel system call interface, as well as to other OS features.

Doesn't seem correct: https://source.android.com/devices/tech/security/overview/ke...

Apps have direct access to the entire kernel system call interface. They don't run as root, and in particular they run as different UIDs (which is, to be clear, fantastic in its own right) and with SELinux policies. But their "Application Sandbox" is nothing more than that. Apps have as much access as, say, a well-run public shell server gives to their users. That's a lot more attack surface than JS in my browser has.

The update problem is Androids greatest security flaw. Around 80% of Android devices out there run with known security related bugs: http://androidvulnerabilities.org

That many phone manufactures don't update their software is not an Android problem. Would Lenovo update their devices more often when their operating system was not based on Android? Would Apple update less often when iOS was based on Android?

Lenovo, Samsung, Apple and Google are all in complete control of the devices they sell: they all control hardware, software and services themselves.

If the software is based on Android or not has nothing to do with how often these devices get updates.

It's more like every single business, from ice cream store to accountant, habitually requests the same information from you. It's not exactly an Android problem, but somehow I feel it's less on iOS.

I don't know what's so horrible about an OS that by default encrypts all data on the device, allows applications only to run in a sandbox and uses SELinux.

> There have been bad operating systems in the past (pre come-to-Jesus Microsoft, like 98 and XP...)

Desktop OSes are generally pretty bad. Unsandboxed Windows and OS X apps can do an awful lot with your computer.

Traditional UNIX is no different. Without containers every p0wned process has full access to $HOME and can do everything the user is capable of.

I really like that Apple and Microsoft are pushing for sandbox models in their OSes.

You can also use MAC and avoid container overhead. SELinux is the worst of the bunch because its a PITA to work with, while AppArmor profiles are pretty easy to write but its not particularly foolproof, Tomoyo has nobody developing good profiles for it, and we should all be running Grsec Kernels + PaX since its the best of all worlds but again nobody wants to put in the effort to develop all the profiles for all the programs we use, and learning modes are just unacceptable.

That is GNU/Linux specific, not UNIX.

Of course there are things like HP-UX safes, Tru64 and Solaris trusted zones.

None of them are POSIX.

Besides the average user would not even know where to start.

In all fairness, you don't run any modern UNIX server without giving each sensitive server its own user, which effectively sandboxes it (not quite the same as chroot/containers/VMs, but still). Of course, desktop UNIX/Linux tends to have many important processes running as the same user, but that falls under "Desktop OSes are generally pretty bad".

Everyone sane runs sensitive systems "system high" now, where there's a machine dedicated per task. User/process/thread security in UNIX/POSIX/etc. is bullshit weak sauce, sadly.

You can use VMs for some of that, but that's the limit on sharing (and that's if you trust your hypervisor to be a separation kernel thing; reasonable for many people. Not for others.) Docker/containers isn't enough. Users aren't enough. Processes aren't enough.


If I run a shell script under my user account, that shell script has full access to anything my account has access to, UNLESS I'm running SELinux or something like that.

And another Windows user who runs "p0wned" shell scripts on his system. Or believe everyone does this on a regular basis. "Just like Windows!"

Sigh. Yes, I'll assume you're perfect and never run anything you didn't write yourself.

Edit: Okay, think about it this way - if you're the perfect sysadmin who doesn't run anything bad, how do you go about protecting your non-so-perfect users? How do you protect the server you're tasked to maintain?

Just go do a wget site | sh for me will you?


Afterwards we can discuss UNIX security models.

Yeah, but they've been getting better over time. It's monotonically non-decreasing security, at least, and the desktop->mobile transition has been amazing from a security perspective. This is a step backward. The only question is how big is that step.

Nah, you just don't see the big picture. You're coming at it from the tech side. It's better to look at the business side. Microsoft has 89% desktop market share, so they basically own the desktop. Apple will never be a real threat because of price. Chrome/Android has an excellent chance to be a real alternative on the desktop. if it gets a large enough market share, perhaps we'll see Adobe's apps, for instance, along with all other major apps.

Is Apple really that much more expensive? Or is that just something that people believe because it used to be true? I keep hearing this repeated, but I bought my dad a $499 Mac Mini.

With Microsoft producing a laptop of their own that starts at $1499, I think all we can really say is "Apple doesn't produce bargain laptops".

Is Apple really that much more expensive?

Typically not in the segment where they compete (high-end laptops). However, the cheapest MacBook (in Germany) is 999 Euro. A large chunk of the market cannot afford or does not want to spend 999 Euro on a laptop. If you only want to e-mail, upload/view some photos, make a spreadsheet, a 999 Euro MacBook is expensive compared to a 200 Euro Chromebook or 300 Euro Windows laptop.

It was true to varying extents before Apple switched to Intel processors. Since then it's never been true by more than ± few percent for equivalent hardware.

The complicating factor, and why it's such an enduring belief, is that Apple doesn't ship adware and has minimal hardware standards which are higher than the lowest-end PC market. You see this over and over again where someone is either unable to back up claims or, when pressed, has to admit that the $400 notebook they said was “just like” the MacBook Air had a previous generation processor, magnetic hard drive instead of SSD, low-contrast/dim display, mushy keyboard or unusable trackpad, etc. The same manufacturer probably even makes something fairly competitive, too, but it costs about as much.

Doesn't really matter. Apple makes a very narrow range of products for high-end consumers, and that's a small portion of the market.

Apple has nothing for the average home user who wants a $199-$399 laptop. Or even for the geek or gamer who wants a reasonably-priced tower.

> Doesn't really matter. Apple makes a very narrow range of products for high-end consumers, and that's a small portion of the market.

It's about half the market as far as profit goes – the low-end stuff is absurdly low margin and customers have very little brand loyalty.

More importantly, the netbook and other low-end market has been fading as people buy tablets and large smartphones. It's not at crossover yet but there's a growing percentage of people who don't have a traditional computer at all and that's going to eat into the low-end market most heavily because the difference in utility between a $200 netbook and a $200 tablet is the smallest and hardware quality is often better on the tablet side.

The demographic shift is somewhat fascinating, with PC ownership declining by 10% for people under 30 in the last 5 years:

“Today, 78% of adults under 30 own a laptop or desktop computer, compared with 88% who did so in 2010. Smartphone ownership, on the other hand, has surpassed both of these devices, with 86% of 18- to 29-year-olds owning one in 2015.”


It's about half the market as far as profit goes – the low-end stuff is absurdly low margin and customers have very little brand loyalty.

Yes, that's true. But Apple needs to have a high profit margin because it only makes $1 billion a week (after tax) and has only $200 billion in the bank. It would obviously be a waste of money to serve more people, or even pay its Chinese workers a living wage.

More importantly, the netbook and other low-end market has been fading as people buy tablets and large smartphones.

The netbook market hasn't existed for a very long time, but sales of $199 laptops like the HP Stream 11 seem to be pretty good. Obviously they don't include the ability to overcharge users by $100 a shot for small increases in RAM or storage.

However, the tablet market -- including iPads -- is declining faster than the PC market. Nowadays even Apple has followed Samsung etc in making phablets.

" It would obviously be a waste of money to serve more people, or even pay its Chinese workers a living wage."

They do. Compare the workers at Foxconn Apple factories to other factory workers. And remember that just about every other tech company also makes their stuff in China.

Every company makes stuff in China, but not under the massive pressure that Apple's big-bang marketing puts them under, where workers are forced to deliver many millions of devices in the shortest possible time.

It was Apple production lines that were driving suicides, and hence the nets round Foxconn dorms.

Pegatron has had Chinese workers doing 90-100 hours a week, sometimes more, just so Apple fanboys can get their fancy new toys without the massive loss of kudos that waiting a month would cost them. http://www.chinalaborwatch.org/report/107

And Apple workers do not get a living wage, according to China Labor Watch, even though -- as I stated correctly -- Apple is making a billion dollars a week in profits and has more than $200 billion in cash.

Of course, this isn't brutal capitalist exploitation.

Or if it is, well, who cares?

Don't forget the battery, which often gets ignored when comparing MacBooks to other highend notebooks.

> Is Apple really that much more expensive?

I think for directly comparable hardware its not much more expensive, but:

1) the entry price is higher -- to get a minimally functional Apple laptop or desktop you're paying more than any of the alternatives.

2) the smaller number of Apple models compared to any major PC maker (much less the union of all PC makers) means that, unless your hardware preferences happen to match perfectly to an Apple model, you're often able to find a PC that matches your preferences less expensively simply because you are unlikely to have to overshoot your target as far as with Apple.

Mac mini in Portugal - 571 €

Minimum wage before taxes - 505 €

Average PC price at a retail store - 400 €

In Europe just take any American price for an Apple product and increase it by 30%-40%

It's not. As you said, Apple just doesn't produce cheap laptops. If you compare like for like, the PC laptops cost about the same as the Apple ones.

Apple has a significant, growing share of the computers which people buy for themselves. If you go to a conference, coffee shop, etc. notice that more than half of the laptops are Macs.

Windows has a huge lock-in for the business world due to compatibility, and a few other niches like high-end gaming for similar reasons. Without API compatibility that's a really tough space to get into.

It's quite believable that Android/ChromeOS will take over the netbook market by being cheaper than Windows, and the premium personal market – which is where most of the profit is – if they can get quality hardware shipping at prices competitive enough to make up for the lack of applications (almost all Android apps will need some sort of UI modifications) but it really doesn't seem like they'll get anywhere in the business world. Cracking that means either convincing everyone to drop legacy apps for web apps or remote clients (how many more decades?) or offering API compatibility (invest heavily in WINE?) — otherwise, the cost of a Windows license isn't that much (especially with 10) and certainly not enough to push someone towards the most limited option.

> It's quite believable that Android/ChromeOS will take over the netbook market by being cheaper than Windows

Every store I visit the cheapest laptop-like devices are windows 10 devices, 20-30$ cheaper than chrome os devices. Android ones certainly exist, but only start at roughly double the price of cheap windows 10 machines.

Those windows 10 machines aren't even bad. If you need office + browser they work pretty well.

Just checking today on Amazon:

Cheapest chromebook: 161.99 (and that's the Asus C201, as in STAY AWAY). Cheapest vaguely reasonable chromebook ~210

Cheapest windows 10 laptop: 164.89. This one is actually usable. Screen resolution being the biggest minus point.

Cheapest android "laptop": 165, and this is not something you want. Cheapest one you do want: ~$300. There are cheaper android laptops, but they're chinese duplicates you do not want.

Outside of the US, windows 10 laptops win by a mug bigger margin.

Agreed. Right now, I think much of that would be explained by existing contracts and volume – the Windows devices are shipping in much larger quantities whereas the Android faux-laptops have tended to be curiosities rather than serious ventures.

I think if Google continues to be willing to subsidize Android development at a loss to maintain marketshare, that could change if Microsoft isn't willing to lower the price for a consumer copy of Windows to zero. Anyone who remembers the 90s knows that Microsoft is unlikely to make it that easy.

Cracking that means either convincing everyone to drop legacy apps for web apps

To drop good apps for web apps.

How do you qualify Android as the worst security-shipping product? Is it mainly due to the lack of sound update mechanisms? Because conceptually, Android's model (each application is its own Unix user) seems pretty good

It depends. Maybe we just see the Play store added to chromebooks, and chromebooks are rebranded as android devices. I mean, there's already so many different android runtimes/versions, what's one more?

That's a pretty bold statement to make. The announcement contains zero detail, to the point that I'm left questioning what the purpose of leaking the information was other than page views.

What about if it's Android that gets killed, not Chrome OS? Then it'd be a great day :)

That's an intriguing possibility. Given their relative marketshares, even if the plan were to kill Android in favor of ChromeOS, they'd probably say exactly what they're saying now.

That's where I thought they were heading when ChromeOS got support for running Android apks.

Security aside, I would argue that 98 and XP were the best versions of Windows during that period

98 was so bug-riddled that only 98 SE was actually usable. And I'd argue that Windows 2000 was much better-liked than XP on that period. XP was horrible at launch and needed two service packs to become actually liked.

Flash and Java are still shipping...

Android will have good security just once they've added more stapled-on legs. Security doesn't come from engineering and good design, it comes from adding more things!

Thank you for saying this! I am an Android developer and I wanted someone to come here and say good things about Android so I could feel safer for my job!


> You're a moron.

Personal attacks are not allowed and comments like this will get your account banned on HN. Please post civilly or not at all.



ChromeOS is based on Linux so, please, let us hear just how bad you are saying Linux is.

What an ignorant comment. To call Android the "worst currently-shipping security product" is representative of your knowledge on the matter.

Within the space of general purpose desktop/mobile operating system products: Windows 10 (pretty good). OS X (not great -- which is a shame). Most Linux distributions (OK to good as shipped, can be great). Most BSD distributions (good to great). iOS (fucking AMAZING). ChromeOS (great, RIP). Windows Phone (honestly don't know much about it). BB OS 10/QNX (great, but irrelevant sadly). And then there's Android.

Care to explain the reasons? Doesn't windows 10 phone home? The window xp/7 i used previously would inevitability get affected by viruses. I am using Android for last 4 years have not have single virus or even malware problem.

This is pretty funny considering Windows is the cause for nearly all of the security exploits that occur. The horror stories of people being infected with viruses, malware and ransomware all have one thing in common - Windows. You only need to look at the thousands of security patches this OS has had applied to it over the years and the new ones applied every month to truly grasp what a sieve it really is. BTW, where are all of the horror stories concerning the Stagefright exploit that so many "pundits/idiots" predicted would be a disaster for Android? I'm still waiting for that.

Also, was there a reason you started referring to specific versions of OS's like Windows 10 and BB OS 10 and then disrespectfully mentioned Android without a version number? Don't you think that was a bit disingenuous, and lame, of you to start mentioning specific OS versions and leave out Android? If you're going to use version numbers then shouldn't you have applied them to all of the OS's you mentioned instead of cherry picking OS versions and then shitting out the line "And then there's Android" at the end?

OK -- Android (until absolute latest) = lovecraftian horror.

Android marshmallow = exceptionally bad.

BB10 is a fundamentally different OS (QNX based) than pre-BB10. but Pre-10 was also a good OS from a security perspective, just utter shit to develop meaningful third party apps for.

Windows...used to be horrible. Big changes around Vista (although, ~unusable). Since Windows 7, it's been "reasonable" in a highly managed corporate environment, and not bad even out of the box. 8, 8.1, and 10 have been improvements on that. It's actually easier to do a 10k user highly locked down Windows deployment (although expensive, and involving a lot of experts and third-party tools) than to do a 10k user locked down Mac OS X deployment. Apple had a lot of advantages by starting from UNIX and from basically starting after security was a "thing", but hasn't done as good a job on OS X security as I'd like. iOS, on the other hand, is amazing -- the only serious deficiencies I find with iOS are a lack of "enterprise as sole root of trust" (which no one does, with the possible exception of (Blackberry Pre-10 and post-10), or roll-your-own open source linux/bsd with a lot of trusted computing grafted on in ways which are not at all trivial to do), and a lack of emphasis on anti-forensics on the device itself -- if you unlock it, it contains an sqllite db with ~every message, which shouldn't be how they do it.

OTOH, on cloud services, Google is far and away superior to Apple. The biggest problem with Apple is you're largely pushed toward iCloud which is not amazing from a security perspective. The true win of ChromeOS was you were equally pushed to the Google ecosystem, which is amazing for cloud service security -- the sole problem being you're 100% exposed to Google, Inc. which is both a US company and a single third-party entity, but if you had to pick a single company to be responsible for your cloud services security, you'd probably pick Google on the merits.

Why is Android 6.0 exceptionally horrible? I found one bug in a Play Services API that can crash Play Services remotely, but I can't get code execution so Google aren't interested.

Could you explain why you think Android Marshmallow is "exceptionally bad"? Because I'd really like to know why you think it is. Android gets a bad rap for malware, but it's really a lie perpetuated by people who dislike the platform because they're jealous of its popularity. And even when malware laden apps are sideloaded by people from questionable sites the effects are often minor due to the mitigation strategies employed by Android. Like I said before - where is this pandemic of Android infected phones wreaking havoc? Where are all of the stagefright exploit stories? There's virtually none.

Additionally, Android patches are distributed pretty fast by Google to their phones. It's unfortunate that the OEM's and carriers delay the process for their phones, but Google has no current control over this.

Your explanation that Ryan is jealous of Android's popularity doesn't make sense to me. This is a guy that has been working in security for some time, on both ends of the public / private infosec space [1]. Why would he be jealous of Android, but not ChromeOS?

Someone else expounded earlier: "On Android, questionable apps have direct access to the entire kernel system call interface, as well as to other OS features. Personally, I'm not so much upset because Android is uncommonly bad (it's like any other system that gives untrusted users non-root access to Linux: you can probably get away with it, but eh), but because CrOS is uncommonly good."

I don't think it's reasonable to ask for pointers on how to root an Android device in a public forum, and the size of the attack surface seems to me like a rather reasonable measure of a system's security.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryan_Lackey

A explanation would be better. What is CrOS? edit: got it ChromeOS

Chrome OS.

Please, I did not specifically say this person was jealous of Android's popularity. I simply stated that the impetus for people who denigrate Android are generally people that are jealous of the platform's success and try to knock it down a few notches. Also, Android apps are sandboxed and each app is isolated in its own directory. Additionally, could you please cite how these "questionable apps have direct access to the entire kernel system call interface"? If Android apps want to access system functionality then I believe they have to go through a layer of Android framework services which in turn have access to the real kernel system calls.

As for the size of the attack surface being a factor - I agree, but with the exception of QNX and its microkernel (which has issues of its own) pretty much every other monolithic kernel based OS also has a large attack surface so I'm not exactly sure what point you're trying to make other than the obvious.

>Personally, I'm not so much upset because Android is uncommonly bad (it's like any other system that gives untrusted users non-root access to Linux: you can probably get away with it, but eh), but because CrOS is uncommonly good."

Chrome does have great sandboxing, but don't disparage Android just because it works like 99% of the other OS's out there. And I wouldn't be surprised if Android inherits some of Chrome's sandboxing tech when the two merge because I think it's pretty much inevitable that it will.

rdl works on security at CloudFlare. What do you do?

OK, this is one of those times where infosec people get annoyingly close to "appealing to authority." So far 'rdl has said Android is "the worst currently-shipping security product", "[Blah blah blah], and then there's Android", "Android (until absolute latest) = lovecraftian horror" but the latest is upgraded to "exceptionally bad", and a deeply-nested subcomment about running every task on a separate machine (which I'm sure ChromeOS does... /s) But who needs to hear logical arguments? When the guy from CloudFlare speaks, the thinking is done!

Alright, as something of an Android fanboy it pains me to admit, he probably has a point in this case. But it'd be nice to hear about what specifically is wrong, especially since it would seem there's a fair bit right, like SELinux, automatic encryption, ASLR. The worst thing in my view, is the permissions system, which is probably salvageable (and as I understand it, was improved in Marshmallow.) 'rdl has given more details about pretty much every imaginable system but Android -- are we supposed to just assume Android does every bad thing he mentioned, and the opposite of every good thing?

Edit: I could almost let this slide since the particular counter-comment was equally vacuous. It's still annoying to see "security guy from $BIG_CO => GTFO" (who is apparently smarter than all the security people at Google who've worked on Android, but we just have to take your word for it since you didn't elaborate.)

OK, this is one of those times where infosec people get annoyingly close to "appealing to authority."

This. It's not just "close to" appealing to authority, it's straight up appealing to authority. And yes, it's a common practice in the infosec community. The whole security industry is built on a reputation system. It pays to remember that the number of exploits and vulnerabilities etc. in commonly used software that are reported on practically a daily basis came out of the same reputation based system.

In another comment, he says "user/process/thread security in UNIX/POSIX/etc. is bullshit weak sauce, sadly."

Geofft expounds some more: On Android, questionable apps have direct access to the entire kernel system call interface, as well as to other OS features. Personally, I'm not so much upset because Android is uncommonly bad (it's like any other system that gives untrusted users non-root access to Linux: you can probably get away with it, but eh), but because CrOS is uncommonly good.

I'm not sure if these are related, nor how iOS avoids it. The answer is probably in here: https://www.apple.com/business/docs/iOS_Security_Guide.pdf

FWIW, I've heard Googlers familiar with it refer to Android as a pile of crap, as well.

> he says "user/process/thread security in UNIX/POSIX/etc. is bullshit weak sauce, sadly."

Android's security indeed relies on UNIX's (filesystem permissions, separate UIDs for each app), but he praised OSX and iOS (I think) for starting from UNIX[0], so it would be inconsistent to also damn Android for it (which I don't think he necessarily did, since dissing UNIX security was in a different context.) From skimming the iOS security guide (and having no iOS dev experience) it looks like it's similar: "The majority of iOS runs as the non-privileged user “mobile,” as do all third-party apps" -- although being BSDish vs Android's Linux could mean that's quite different.

> On Android, questionable apps have direct access to the entire kernel system call interface, as well as to other OS features... because CrOS is uncommonly good.

So CrOS has the advantage because I guess it does not allow running untrusted native code at all, containing things entirely in interpreted/JIT'd VMs. That would be a good point... except every other OS 'rdl esteems higher than Android (Windows, OSX, iOS, Blackberry) probably also runs native code with full access to syscalls (making some assumptions here, but I think it's reasonable that to whatever extent 'geofft's statement about Android is true, it applies fairly uniformly to the rest.) So, why are they good or even just OK, but Android is horribad?

I'm not sure I'm actually addressing arguments 'rdl would have made about Android -- but that's the point, he didn't really say anything that can be argued!

> FWIW, I've heard Googlers familiar with it refer to Android as a pile of crap, as well.

Yeah, it's probably true -- I wasn't saying "Google made it, so it must be good", but underlining the fallacy in relying on a prestigious company association as proof of merit. Android probably didn't have the best talent when it started in 2003 and is now painted into a corner of backwards-compatibility and a huge codebase that would be risky to revamp all at once. I guess my favorite aspect of Android is really just that it's open-source-ish and has enough critical mass to be useful (as opposed to Firefox OS and Ubuntu at the moment) -- so if ChromiumOS were to become the new AOSP as some are speculating, sounds good to me.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10476099

To speculate a bit, he seem to favor iOS above all else because:

A) its BSD (Torvalds have offended a sizable part of the -sec community by not highlighting security updates in release notes)

B) it is locked down by default, to the point that there is not even a common storage area for files (this "blew up" in Android a while back because some big name messaging app was dumb enough to put unencrypted user data in exactly such a common area).

Good points. I think bullshit weak sauce is busllshit weak sauce regardless of context. If you don't trust it on a server, why should you on your phone?

The comparison between Android and iOS is especially curious, in part because it's such a competitive space, and also because rdl's opinions varied so extremely.

Both OS X and iOS are based on Darwin, which also suggests vulnerabilities in kernel calls are not what rdl had in mind. When his latest startup was acquired, the blog post [1] described a part of it as:

> Beyond the company’s work in VPNs, CryptoSeal applied Trusted Computing technology to commodity servers, protecting them from compromise by outsider attackers or insider subversion, and guaranteeing the integrity of server-side applications to remote end users.

Perhaps something about the hardware iOS runs on is what impressed him so?

1. https://blog.cloudflare.com/cloudflare-acquires-cryptoseal/

>FWIW, I've heard Googlers familiar with it refer to Android as a pile of crap, as well.

Have you see the CVE iOS database? If "Android is a pile of crap" then I can only imagine what iOS must be.

"There are security bugs" does not mean "pile of crap". Everything has security bugs. The question is how bad they are and how much it costs to buy a zero-day / the use of a zero-day.

I agree that everything has security bugs. It's pretty much inevitable. But, one platform has nearly 5.5 times the security issues of the other. So, if you're using security issues to correlate what a "pile of crap" is than you need not look further than iOS.

iOS: 749 Vulnerabilities http://www.cvedetails.com/product/15556/Apple-Iphone-Os.html...

Android: 138 Vulnerabilities http://www.cvedetails.com/product/19997/Google-Android.html?...

Oh, interesting stats. Thanks for linking those!

> rdl works on security at CloudFlare. What do you do?

The he can give reasons about his comments.

until now, they sound just like hatred and nothing more.

Appealing to authority is always a bad thing without any arguments backing the claims

> until now, they sound just like hatred and nothing more.

Or perhaps advice given based on non-public information.


I'm a developer at one of the world's biggest computer companies. And you?

The biggest difference between Android and Chrome OS for me as a user is how it handles user multi-tasking.

I've tried using an Android tablet for work. It's nigh impossible, even with a keyboard because it doesn't support multi-tasking well. Sure, it supports OS multi-tasking, but it doesn't support user multi-tasking.

Android is based around the single-task model. You have a foreground app that takes up the entire screen and other apps are backgrounded. You can switch between apps fairly quickly, but you can only have one open at a time. There are some attempts to fix this, such as Samsung's split-screen, but none are officially supported. We've even moved to having Chrome tabs use this model.

I love my Chromebook for work though. It does everything I need to do, including having multiple document windows open for multi-tasking.

Chrome OS is built on a multi-task model. You can have many windows open at once and quickly switch between them without losing state or visibility.

Windows tried to merge the two with Windows 8 and it was a terrible user experience. The last thing I want for my dual 24" monitors is to be able to only use one window at a time. Having a messaging app take up the entire monitor is ridiculous. Hopefully they'll find a middle ground. Until user multi-tasking exists in Android I won't be using it for anything but my phone.

I advise against the use of the term "multitasking" to mean anything other than OS/unit of schedulable work multitasking, which is the proper meaning. The same happened to "real-time", and generally having technical terms with concrete meanings be watered down isn't preferable. Multiple workspaces is really what Android lacks.

Multitasking is used in multiple contexts now. Commercials and consumers use it to talk about Android and iOS features. It's too late to try and claim such a generally useful word like "multitasking" as a keyword.

I agree. This problem is growing exponentially.

I see what you did there.

Would be really interesting to see some serious productivity studies done on this. Not to pick on you -- I appreciate you insight -- but humans don't do multi-tasking well.

I wonder (and have no idea, just throwing the idea out there), if people would be more productive in that single tasking environment.

For me its not just about multitasking. Its about distraction. With one window per app on a big screen (eg Windows 8), its just too distracting to switch. I have to go to application switcher, choose appropriate window, and everything looks different now. However, if I've typical two windows side by side of even overlapping, the switch very less distracting...and of course quicker.

That said, I do use a tiling window manager on my 13" laptop for work. I mostly use full-screen mode, but it works well for me, because switching is very fast.

   > humans don't do multi-tasking well
Human ‘tasks’ and computer ‘tasks’ are not the same thing. A productive ‘task’ for me, at work or at home, typically involves concurrently using one or more editors (text, graphic, schematic, …), one or more documentation readers (web browser, PDF viewer, …), and one or more communications tools (email, IRC, hangouts, …).

Seems everyone here is panicking because they think that this means Chrome OS will be killed and Android will be made to run on Chromebooks - but I actually think the signs point to the opposite - Chrome OS becoming the Phone/Tablet OS under a new guise. I wouldn't read too much into a leak filtered through journalists, and instead look at what Google's actually working on:

- Google has Chromium developers working on a DART-based Mobile UI framework and execution engine, Flutter (http://flutter.io/). It's looking to be far better than the existing Android UI system - built for touch and 120fps from the start. This uses the Dartium VM and a bridge to allow the DART apps to use all the native features of the platform, it's much more than just another web framework. Development on this is very active right now, clearly a sizable team working fulltime - and they're building new developer tools also. There was a talk on this a while ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnIWl33YMwA .

- Google has built a Runtime to allow existing Android Java-based apps to run on Chrome OS, and is currently testing this and working with developers to get their apps to run on it. It doesn't make much sense to invest in building that out just for chromebooks, since the experience on a Chromebook with Android apps is pretty awful (can't resize etc), but it makes total sense if it's going to be how legacy Java/Android apps run on the new Chrome based phone OS.

The sad truth is that Android simply isn't a very well engineered system - it's been improved over time, but problems persist - like the complex update process leading to unsatisfied users and security problems, poor UI performance (even now, Android can barely do simple animations at a steady 60fps on the latest Nexus devices, and has little hope of allowing for the beautiful animations the Material Design team has come up with), and poor battery life. Google's also at a dead-end with Java given the ongoing legal battles, and with Apache Harmony dead they have to maintain the standard library implementation themselves.

On the other hand, Chrome OS performs great, has awesome battery life on Chromebooks, is quite possibly the most secure end-user OS ever, and Chromebooks get speedy updates for at least 5 years. I know which one I'd choose as the basis for a merged OS.

Yes it's interesting to note that this is all coming from non-tech media interpreting the CEO's comments. The CEO is never gonna say "Android is dead and replaced by ChromeOS", just because of relative market shares. No need to piss off customers and partners. In two years when we realize what's going on, he'll just say that we misunderstood him. In the meantime, if no one closer to the coalface fleshes out the details of this supposed transition, the story will seem less and less likely.

Yes, exactly, there are silent projects like Mojo (https://github.com/domokit/mojo), Flutter, Mandoline (https://www.chromium.org/developers/mandoline) that whispers actually android is being folded into Chrome. Time will tell.

AFAIK Sky is a project of the Dart team without any link with the Android team. It is an interesting idea but right now it is little more than a proof of concept. Even the demonstration app is extremely underwhelming.

Sky (which is renamed Flutter now) is developing fast though and is clearly a well-resourced project. Certainly fits with a preview next year and 2017 release timeframe. It could be one of several projects competing though.

Interesting. Well, it's all getting folding into Android now.

Update 7:40PM: We've updated the article's headline to be more accurate. A Google spokesperson has confirmed to The Verge that both Chrome OS and Android will continue to exist; Chrome OS is not being "killed."


So... they aren't going to focus more on Android-based laptops and rebrand Chromebooks to something without Chrome in the name?

Because otherwise I'd just completely utterly ignore any and all Chromebooks since it'd be effectively obsolete and probably unsupported as soon as 2017 Rolls around.

Mixed feelings on this. As someone with two Chromebooks (one Pixel, one Samsung ARM Chromebook) , an Android phone, and two Android tablets, here's what I see as the potential benefits and tradeoffs:

+ Being able to run Android apps on a Chromebook would be awesome. There's already some limited support for this, but it would be nice for it to be official.

+ Taking over the Chromebook line would hopefully force Google to make document editing not suck on Android devices.

+ Android running on Chromebooks will hopefully make the display scale better on hi-DPI devices.

- ChromeOS is fairly lightweight and actually runs surprisingly well on cheap devices. I have no doubt that my Chromebook Pixel would run Android just fine, but the Samsung ARM Chromebook would probably chug, even though it's running ChromeOS well enough.

- Making Android run on laptops will hopefully make Google step up their Android document editing game, but as of right now it still sucks. Even the cheap Samsung chromebook was leagues ahead of using my tablet and a bluetooth keyboard in terms of trying to compose documents.

- The ability to install crouton on Chromebooks and have another Linux chroot on the side is an awesome feature of the Chromebook. I imagine that might be more difficult under Android, even though it still uses the linux kernel.

> ChromeOS is fairly lightweight and actually runs surprisingly well on cheap devices. I have no doubt that my Chromebook Pixel would run Android just fine, but the Samsung ARM Chromebook would probably chug, even though it's running ChromeOS well enough.

Plenty of inexpensive ARM devices running Android. I don't see that this is likely to be a major problem.

> Making Android run on laptops will hopefully make Google step up their Android document editing game, but as of right now it still sucks. Even the cheap Samsung chromebook was leagues ahead of using my tablet and a bluetooth keyboard in terms of trying to compose documents.

If they're folding ChromeOS into Android, rather than just killing ChromeOS, I expect that (using similar Chrome apps) post-convergence Android devices will be at least as good as pre-convergence ChromeOS devices at document editing.

Actually if Google going to push coreboot into Android/ARM market more aggressively it's going to help quite a lot with running GNU/Linux distributions there.

It would be easier to convert to linux since Android is already a VM on top of it, right?

I'm hoping that since they're now targeting the desktop OS market that they'll make it easier to run native linux programs on Android. My biggest complaint of using ChromeOS on a pixel 2 is that there are no good text editors on the level of Sublime Text (which works on linux).

> My biggest complaint of using ChromeOS on a pixel 2 is that there are no good text editors on the level of Sublime Text (which works on linux).

Atom works great in Crouton on my pixel 2. I've switched to that as my full-time dev machine. I run everything but Atom in terminals. I run Atom in an X window (xiwi) and have no linux desktop at all. Lean and mean.

Have you tried Caret? I use it on my Pixel 1 and it seems to be modeled off Sublime/Ace.

Yeah, it doesn't do regex find and replace, and crumbles under large files.

There's quite a bit of info online on how to install a chroot under Android. Like with a Chromebook, you need root access though (aka. ChromeOS "developer mode" or a "rooted" Android device).

If this is really where things are going, it wouldn't surprise me if crouton contributors continued the project for Android post convergence.

The drawback to easy chroots is that no one tries to boot mainline Linux directly. Try looking for information on how to boot Debian on a Nexus 4.

Yes I hope crouton keeps going. For me it has been the best combination of price, functionality, and convenience.

Took'em a while but better late than never I suppose. I have long been saying (on various forums :)) that this is the right approach.

Flash is dying off and if Android gets better desktop window manager and shell (the bar is already set too low - ChromeOS sucked with its stupid everything including WiFi settings in Chrome, tiny fonts and web-only apps) people will finally have a credible alternative to Windows desktops/laptops. Plus this gives Google a chance to do something like Continuum - without having to be beholden to x86 for apps like MS.

Chrome OS having just a browser UI with web-only apps is what made it appealing. I actually admired Google for releasing two competing operating systems and to me this is sad news, even though I've been an Android fan. You make it sound like Google is the one that needs a "credible alternative" to Windows, when in fact it is Microsoft that needs a credible alternative to Chrome OS and Android.

Speaking of which I don't believe in Continuum. It's an idea that's natural coming from a company that has a desktop OS and wants to leverage that in order to maybe win some market share on mobile. I first heard of the idea from Canonical with their Ubuntu phone, another company trying to leverage a desktop OS.

It's a cool idea for geeks, but made obsolete by cloud-enabled apps like Google Docs. Why would one need Continuum when the changes you make in Google Docs on your phone are reflected immediately on every device or PCs you have?

> You make it sound like Google is the one that needs a "credible alternative" to Windows

With the new Windows licensing Windows is the better alternative to ChromeOS - you can do more at the same price and you can lock it down if you need to a la ChromeOS. In some ways Google is stepping up the game - with Android you can do more.

Good point about Google Docs use case however that's very limited - If I carry the shared storage of my phone with me, if I can blow up the phone to use two monitors and still have my missed calls, SMSs etc in front of me - it enables a greater use case. There is definitely merit in that if continuum is done right.

What Windows licensing are you talking about? Windows 10 is licensed the same as ever.

On missed calls and SMSs, with my iOS device I get both SMS messages and phone calls through iMessage and Facetime on my MacBook. With my Android device I do the same for SMS messages, plus all the notifications I'm interested in with PushBullet.

Windows 8.1 with Bing has been free on devices with smaller than 10-inch screens, and that gets a free upgrade to Windows 10. Windows 10 also seems to be available at low prices....

The US Justice Department forced Microsoft to stop offering special deals on Windows so all the top suppliers paid the same price (1). I assume that's lifted now that Microsoft is no longer closely monitored by the DoJ. Anyone know?

(1) Which seemed to have the (presumably) unintended effect of pushing up the average price of Windows and increasing Microsoft's profits.

Windows 10 is more expensive than Windiws 8. The price listed is $120 for Home and Pro at $200. But that's without taxes because in my country that's $148 for Home and $298 for Pro, after taxes. And I've seen this notion flying that Windows is cheap, but I want whatever you guys are smoking.

Windows 10 retail includes Microsoft support and the right to transfer it from one PC to another. Almost nobody buys it, or if they do (like me) it's usually on a cheap launch offer.

Most copies of Windows are configured, tested, pre-installed, locked to a single PC (not transferrable), and supported by PC manufacturers. They get it at discounted rates, which typically range from $0 to about $45. That's cheap if you think of it as $1 per month over 4 years.

PC manufacturers typically add "crapware" to consumer PCs. These are programs that they get paid to distribute (much like websites that collect $1 if they foist Chrome or the Google Toolbar on you). With luck, they can get the cost of Windows down to $0. They can also get extra discounts or even cash support for advertising from Microsoft and/or Intel for making certain statements, eg recommending Windows or playing Intel's bongs in a TV advert.

In some cases -- for example, if enough users subscribe to the bundled AV software -- the charge for Windows turns negative, ie they make a profit. With a really efficient OEM, the consumer may pay less than $0 for the pre-installed copy of Windows (other costs being hidden).

Since you can buy Windows laptops for £150/$199, the suppliers are clearly not paying $120 or more for Windows.

OK, on the differences of the retail license, you've got a solid point.

In my country (Romania) the laptops with Windows are easily $70 more expensive than those without Windows. I know this because every time I'm looking to buy a laptop I'm doing my research and end up amazed by the difference, given all the crapware they come with, which as you are saying, should subsidize the price.

Big companies like Dell and Lenovo (which owns IBM's old PC business) get the best deals. Smaller companies get worse deals: I've had that complaint from UK manufacturers. Small Romanian companies may get even worse deals.

But I would have thought Acer and Asus would be competitive, because they're global suppliers....

I think the parent poster meant, Windows (including 10, presumably, per Microsoft's 2014 announcement) is free to OEMs for devices with a screen size < 9 inches.

Yes, although I should correct my own statement:

Windows 8.1 with Bing has been free on devices with smaller than 10-inch screens

The actual deal was not free: you paid $10 for it, and then Microsoft gave you $10 for setting the default search engine to Bing.

So, according to Microsoft, it was not "free" it was "zero paid".


They have a very low cost license for OEMs that sell cheap devices - those get upgraded to Windows 10 for free. I can't find a source for Win 10 licensing but I'd be surprised if they aren't continuing the zero dollar licensing for a subset of devices.

I would be a cool idea for normal folks. Instead of using a laptop they can connect the phone to bigger screen for watching movies/browsing/email etc. That is mostly the case of my friends/relatives who are not in IT/Business sectors.

> Why would one need Continuum when the changes you make in Google Docs on your phone are reflected immediately on every device or PCs you have?

You're not thinking long-term enough. You should be asking, "why would one need a PC when you can just stick your phone in a dock?".

It's going to take a while for hardware to catch up, but in about a decade I think desktops will almost exclusively be used as high-end workstations for stuff like 3-D rendering, scientific number crunching, and maybe hardcore gaming, while anything with fewer demands will be satisfied by a phone using Continuum or something like it.

I think there are multiple problems with that vision.

For one you're assuming that current computing capacity is enough for most people. However current computing capacity is enough only for current applications of it. In a decade from now however people are going to get interested in virtual reality and artificial intelligence. It's inevitable. Plus the gaming industry, just like the housing industry, has always sucked all surplus.

And there are hard limits to how small transistors can get, or to how fast wireless networks can be. But problematic are also the batteries, for which Moore's law never applied. Only 5 years ago I was using a phone whose battery lasted for at least 7 days. How about your current phone?

Another problem is that no matter how powerful a phone can be, it's still handicapped by its small screen real-estate. The form factor of a laptop is optimized for productivity work while remaining portable. A physical keyboard is more productive than typing things on a touch screen. A 13-inch screen is more comfortable than a 4.7 inch screen for doing any kind of productivity work. I can go to a coffee shop, pull out my 13-inch laptop and instantly be productive. And transporting around a dock, a keyboard and a monitor to plug-in your phone in case you need it would be more impractical and would defeat the purpose of that phone.

I concede that there will be people interested in using their phone as a general computing device. Those will be the same people that are doing that today, as in the people that lack the resources to buy multiple devices. A very important and probably big market, but still.

> Another problem is that no matter how powerful a phone can be, it's still handicapped by its small screen real-estate.

With Windows Continuum, you plug an external monitor and a keyboard into your Windows 10 Phone. You get a desktop style experience on the big screen but you can continue to do phone stuff on the phone.

BUILD 2015 Continuum session - Windows Phone as a PC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdzbXo38onQ

It becomes significantly interesting for the odd 4 billion people who will own a smartphone one day but may never own a laptop.

Toshiba tried something similar with a PocketPC (powered by Windows CE) a couple of decades ago, but it didn't work well enough to go anywhere.

> For one you're assuming that current computing capacity is enough for most people. However current computing capacity is enough only for current applications of it. In a decade from now however people are going to get interested in virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

I'm fairly sure most AI will be done in the cloud. We're already going in that direction, with stuff like Google Now.

VR is an interesting question... I'm really excited about the HoloLens, and I'm really curious to see where things go from there. Honestly, I think AR might become a big deal once we start getting wearables that aren't super clunky.

Actually, introducing wearables to the mix also introduces the idea of a personal cloud of devices. The concept of a PAN has been talked about for a while, but we haven't really seen it amount to much, unless you count things like Bluetooth headsets. Cheap, stylish wearables with phone-quality processors, however, can change all that (I don't think we're at either cheap enough or stylish enough yet... but that's a big "yet").

Think beyond smartwatches or googles, too. Imagine wearing a smartshirt and smartpants and smartshoes. Imagine if every single thing you wore on your body had a CPU in it. I think we'd avoid the problem of how small transistors can get just by sticking sources of computing power everywhere. Of course, this paragraph is all pie-in-the-sky far-future stuff. Prices will need to come down to the same range as normal articles of clothing, which will take a long time. And we'll have to have a seamless way to charge your clothes that won't add any more mental overhead. Nobody wants to say "sorry, I have to stay home, I forgot to charge my pants last night".

> But problematic are also the batteries, for which Moore's law never applied.

I think at some point there's going to be a backlash against thinness, and we'll start seeing bigger devices with thicker batteries. Wouldn't surprise me if portable power sources take off too (I'm already seeing external battery packs being sold at department stores, of all places), especially if inductive charging becomes a bit less clunky. Women might be a good driver of this technology: for example, I can see a system where you just drop your phone into your purse, and it magnetically attaches to a wireless charging mat plugged into a battery pack.

> Another problem is that no matter how powerful a phone can be, it's still handicapped by its small screen real-estate. The form factor of a laptop is optimized for productivity work while remaining portable. A physical keyboard is more productive than typing things on a touch screen. A 13-inch screen is more comfortable than a 4.7 inch screen for doing any kind of productivity work. I can go to a coffee shop, pull out my 13-inch laptop and instantly be productive. And transporting around a dock, a keyboard and a monitor to plug-in your phone in case you need it would be more impractical and would defeat the purpose of that phone.

Of course, you're assuming nobody will make a laptop-shaped dock that you can insert a phone into like a cartridge. Think something like the Asus PadFone [0], but with a laptop instead of a tablet. The only real barrier to that right now is that every shell has to be matched with specific models of phone, because every phone has a different size and shape, but I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing standardized form factors at some point in the near future.

Better yet, combine that with a setup like the Surface Book, and you'll have a phone that can dock into a tablet that can dock into a laptop.

[0] http://d5htu2v3nddyh.cloudfront.net/media/catalog/product/a/...

You're not thinking long-term enough. You should be asking, "why would one need a PC when you can just stick your phone in a dock?".

Instead, ask why you'll need a phone when UI devices become invisible, ubiquitous, and networked.

Eventually, our children (grandchildren?) will laugh at our phone obsession. I'm imagining a silent reel of a Charlie Chaplin figure repeatedly patting all his pockets searching for his phone, dropping it when he does find it, pecking the wrong portion of the screen, and then when he finally answers the call discovering that the battery is dead. In other words, me, every day.

Very good point. I'm hoping the "personal cloud of wearables" becomes reality at some point in my lifetime. Reading the Shadowrun v4 player's guide seriously influenced the kind of technology I want to experience.

Probably true that phones will become good enough for most things.

But at the same time, how many devices will the average person use? More or fewer? If it's more, then no matter what -- even if we don't know what those devices will be -- you want it to be easy to switch between them, which is the problem Continuum is solving.

I think this is Google hedging its bets again and getting ready for whatever unpredictable thing happens next. They just assume it will include a proliferation of devices.

That dock thing is not going to happen.

For that you need connectors, that are big, unsightly and brittle - or high bandwidth, ultra low latency wireless.

From the engineering point, it is much simpler just throw separate device into the mix. From the business point of view, more profitable too.

> connectors, that are big, unsightly, and brittle

You know you can run Thunderbolt over USB-C, right? There's no reason that even five years from now, I shouldn't be able to plug my iPhone into my iMac in Target Display mode using the same cable I use to charge it.

Miracast, Bluetooth, and Qi charging... Who needs a dock?

Having seen a few people struggle with Intel Wireless Display, I'd argue that wireless display over current infrastructure is very premature.

If by current infrastructure you mean WiFi, then I agree.

However, I have been using a WiGig dock with 3 1080p displays attached for the past 6 months, and it has been trivial to set up, and nigh indistinguishable from a display connected over wires.

For the record, I used to play FPS games competitively, and I still find the input lag on many IPS monitors completely unbearable to this day. For my eyes, the WiGig dock adds no discernible input lag or compression artifacts to any of my 3 displays, except in games where some frame dropping can still be observed in exceptionally intense moments.

I honestly can't wait for the day when laptops with WiGig and Wireless Charging become mainstream.

Microsoft doesn't need a credible competitor to Android at all. Anything they do in mobile is pure gravy. They're generating $20 billion a year in profit without one, and have seen zero meaningful harm to their profitability over the last five or six year rise of Android. It can easily be argued Microsoft will make a lot more money building software for Android and iOS, rather than competing with them. Office is more valuable than either Windows or Android. Azure is going to be a more valuable business than Android is for Google.

July 2009: Ballmer told the crowd, "I don't know if they can't make up their mind or what the problem is over there, but the last time I checked, you don't need two client operating systems. It's good to have one."

May 2010: Om Malik "Android Has Won — Time for Chrome OS to Move Along?"

I've been waiting for someone to adapt Aura/Ash from ChromeOS to work with a regular Linux desktop. It would instantly become one of the more polished DEs available. Maybe this could help things along.

+1, considering status quo of DEs in linux.

Nailed it

Interesting development! Apple is taking "two separate platforms" approach while Microsoft and Google want to blend desktop and mobile. If you think about it makes sense. Microsoft and Google are going after a world were you pay for a cheap ARM device and it does work as desktop and mobile for you but Apple is going after customers who can pay for multiple devices.

But one thing is for sure, ARM is coming to desktop computing!

I'd take this a step further and summarize the strategy as:

Google: Blend devices so the experience is seamless, tracking across devices is unbroken, and get as much reach as possible with the free OS

MS: Blend devices so the experience is seamless, tracking across devices is unbroken, and then ultimately once people are sufficiently bought in, switch the OS to a fully subscription-based model with strong lock-in

Apple: Best experience for each unique device with strong ties between them because they make their money on the devices.

One tweak: MSFT will probably keep the OS free (and might even consider dropping licensing/royalty fees for Office & other software) but will push the Azure cloud hard onto Windows users, especially in the enterprise space

I think you are right for Windows, but definitely not for Office.

The only real difference with mobile versus desktop computing is the human interface. There are immense cost savings to be had in merging the operating systems for Apple devices if you can manage the code well enough; I'd be surprised if they don't eventually at least try to combine iOS and OSX.

The original iPhone 1 presentation claimed "iPhone runs OS X": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VLb5XdxRm8&t=3m53s

Only when it actually came out was it clear that iOS was a separate thing.

iOS is OSX under the hood, it's the same core OS kernel, just the userland is different with a different API. The same goes for WatchOS.

The same can be said for Windows (7/8/10) and WinPhone8+ and XBox, all run a Windows NT kernel with different userland and APIs.

And Android and ChromeOS have the same OS under the hood too, modified Linux kernel with different userland.

Many components are shared between the two. They seem to have a single mobile OS with different variants (iOS, watchOS, tvOS). Some day OS X will be one of those variants.

I agree. I love Apple's products but to be honest it is a bit frustrating sometimes when OSX doesn't interface with iOS.

> The only real difference with mobile versus desktop computing is the human interface.

The human interface is nearly the whole point of the device. But moreover, it's not true, the difference with mobile is right in the name.

> The only real difference with mobile versus desktop computing is the human interface

Not limited battery life? The fact that the device "moves"? I think there are a few more differences than UI ...

Laptops are within the "desktop computers" side of the mobile/desktop split, and they have basically all the restrictions and features of phones/tablets. Desktop APIs are effectively a strict superset of mobile APIs.

“The iPad is the clearest expression of our vision of the future of personal computing.” — Tim Cook 2015/09/09

I think that I agree with you now, but I wouldn't have last week. I just upgraded from the original iPad mini to a mini 4 and with dual app display, and web based IDEs like nitrous.io that run on mini 4, iPad Air 2, and the new pro iPad, and good SSH shell apps, and generally really fast operation, the iPad is starting to work for me in a limited way for writing and light weight development tasks.

I was blown away by the new Microsoft Surface Book but I don't think that I will buy one. I really like my 1080p Chromebook and along with two old Mac laptops and an older Linux laptop, I just don't see the motivation to get a new laptop. I could see myself getting the Pro iPad of a Surface 4 in the future.

I used to think that a key part of my software development workflow was sitting on my deck with a yellow notepad and a comfortable pen. I now use a tablet for thinking time.

Even if they aren't officially moving to one OS, Apple seems to be "blending" too. The past several Mac OS releases have made it behave more similarly to their mobile OS in ways that, on their own terms, made the desktop user experience worse, for example changing the default mouse scrolling direction (to make it like "dragging" on a phone) and removing the ability to show time remaining for the battery instead of percentage.

> But one thing is for sure, ARM is coming to desktop computing!

Yep and Apple's new MacBook and iPad Pro are a sign of Apple's future doing this.

don't forget about Ubuntu, they are doing the same thing with convergence (even before Microsoft and Google)

I don't think they were first. Microsoft is working on that for many years now.

or, Android is coming (if it hasn't already) to x86?

how well does a full-fledged Chrome on ARM perform? Does it even exist?

Android has been on x86 for a long while now. There have been some Intel Atom based devices released commercially, for example.

Google wants to be in the enterprise market. Microsoft dominates the enterprise market right now, and they're doing a lot of things (Surface, Windows 10, Office 365, Azure) to extend their dominance. If you look at new versions of Office and don't see anything new in there for you, it's because you're not looking at the collaborative space. Microsoft is pulling the rug out from under Google Docs (which for some reason Google rebranded as Google Drive because they're so terrible at naming things) by adding anything Google's services have over Office AND having backwards compatibility with current Office docs. Google can't match that. Apple meanwhile has the MacBook line, which was and may still be the laptop to beat in the ultrabook space. They also have the iPhone, which is the top dog for people who can afford them, and the iPad, which has dominated the tablet space in terms of productivity. (Android is dominating the tablet space for consumption, but that doesn't help nearly as much in terms of enterprise).

The move to convertible devices is being driven by and catering to enterprise users. Microsoft is in the lead here with the Surface, and they're trying to extend this to their phones but they may not be able to overcome the handicap of nobody wants their phones. Apple is playing from behind here because there's walls between iOS and OS X that they won't cross, but they have inroads into the enterprise space, they have enough native iOS productivity apps that work well on tablets (Adobe and ironically Microsoft are both heavily into the iOS productivy app space, and that's a huge part of the market) that the iPad Pro is... unappealing to me personally but quite possibly will be successful in the marketplace.

Google has... Chromebooks, which have no apps and no market penetration outside of the very, very captive education market (where IT administrators just want computers so locked down that teenagers can't do too much damage). And they have Android, which (in tablets at least) has almost no enterprise penetration and very little in terms of productivity apps. And the merging of ChromeOS with Android in order to tackle the enterprise market and the Surface line and the iPad Pro makes a lot of sense. But I'm not sure either papers over the other's flaws enough to make it viable, and I'm definitely not convinced that they're going to be able to be combined in a way that incorporates what ChromeOS does well that Android doesn't, like system software updates.

Microsoft is pulling the rug out from under Google Docs

However, Office 365 for the Mac (2016) regularly crashes. All 4 of us that use it at my company have experienced this. I can't remember the last time Google Docs crashed or screwed up a document.

So, it amazes me that the quality of MS Office is so incredibly low. This is not the way to win any market.

However, Office 365 for the Mac (2016) regularly crashes.

Presumably, OS X 10.11.1 fixes some problems with Office 2016 when you are running El Capitan. I am two-minded when it comes to Google Docs and Office 365. On the one hand, Office 365 is an offer you cannot resist (especially the academic pricing). Microsoft Office documents are a fact of life, Office 365 gives you continuous updates and 1TB of OneDrive space.

On the other hand, last time I compared them, Google Docs' collaboration story was far better. Collaborative editing in Docs is really smooth, while in Office it was hit and miss.

Presumably, OS X 10.11.1 fixes some problems with Office 2016 when you are running El Capitan.

I'm running 10.10.5, and that is a version of Mac OS X they support. So, "fixed in 10.11" is not at all interesting to me.

The quality of MS Office on Mac in incredibly bad. Last week I had MS Office popped up around 10 sign in windows and then crash due I think to being on a corporate network which used a proxy.

Microsoft has the enterprise market. True. Google and Apple have everything else. Don't minimize that.

I've used a Chromebook as my machine for the last 18 months. I love it.

Anything I need to do, I can do through web services, remote desktop or chrome remote desktop.

The one thing I have come to love about ChromeOS is the security. I don't need to worry as much and I have confidence in using my Chromebook all the time.

My phone is android and maybe I am just suffering from Verizon abuse, but I've never had the same security confidence with my phone. And I think this will be the issue. Most people only know Android through a phone experience and it's left a bad taste in their mouth.

Anyway, the Google folks are smart. My hope is the security and reliability of ChromeOS is what is taken and folded into Android.

I agree re: good Chromebook security. (I also don't worry too much about security when using an iPad.)

I specifically only use a conventional laptop when I need to use IntelliJ or otherwise do local development.

I think that computer related crime will increase and using more secure devices, when possible, makes a lot of sense.

The update cycle is also something that I would like to see on Android. The issue is a bit blown out of proportion since the support libs & play services are huge parts of the platform that are constantly up to date but it would still be nice to be able to count on the latest core APIs to be available on most devices in a couple of weeks.

I don't have high hopes though, the obstacles against this seem pretty huge.

Kinda funny to say a Chromebook is your machine, when your setup relies on remote desktop access to a more capable computer.

Seems like the expected development, when I first saw Ubuntu's presentation slides for Ubuntu in all things it really struck me that this was the way things would go. At the Microsoft Windows 10 event their ability to make it morph on multiple form factors seemed like they had done a lot of work to have the whole "phone tablet desktp" thing work everywhere. The challenges of maintaining multiple stacks has got to be huge.

So this is a good move for Google, ideally they cut down the infighting between the two groups, get rid of the lower 5% of both groups leaving them with a combined, more effective group with a well defined mission.

It will be interesting to see if they can make enough money at it though.

Will be interesting to see just what form the combined OS takes, particularly which elements from ChromeOS carry over.

It's notable that iOS and Android still don't have native support for composing declarative UIs, notwithstanding marvelous hacks like React Native. Web technologies aren't perfect, but the use of markup for UI with well-integrated APIs is something that WebOS, FirefoxOS, etc got right a long time ago. It doesn't even have to be HTML... look at QML.

I'm hoping that Android will take on some of those characteristics, and not subsume ChromeOS without a trace.

I'd prefer them to fold Android into glibc Linux instead. This libc division with bionic is very annoying, especially when it comes to closed drivers.

The last thing we need is Android expanding to desktop and causing even further rift.

My thoughts exactly.

I can't stand Android (or smartphones in general). There is something fundamentally wrong with asking the user to install the JRE on a separate machine just to get a login shell on the phone.

I was very sad the day my N900 died, which was a better Linux workstation (with a real keyboard) in a phone-sized device. But then the cheap Acer Chromebooks came out, and Coreboot makes installing vanilla Linux such a snap. The Acer Chromebooks are light enough that I can almost carry it around and use it like I would a smartphone.

Being able to make calls through some kind of unlocked Chromebook / phone hybrid would be a step what my N900 offered, but on the other hand, I just despise Android so much from the point of view of a Linux user that I'm not sure it's be worth it.

When I get around to it I'll probably just build a phone using FONA.

You don't need to install JRE to get a shell on an Android device. Just install adb[1], enable USB debugging on your phone and run adb shell. adb is a part of the Android SDK but you just need the adb binary which doesn't have any extra dependencies AFAIK.

[1] https://developer.android.com/tools/help/adb.html

Available on Ubuntu as android-tools-adb which installs fast, that's how you know it's not JRE. :P You can also install a terminal emulator app if access from PC is not a requirement for you.

Doubt it. Bionic has Android-specific features like system properties which the Android init initializes as the property workspace. I think they could be factored out into a utility library since it's just shared memory and doesn't depend on any libc-private functions, but I'm not sure. There are likely other Bionic modifications, too.

I really hope this actually means "full" Chrome (as in, plugins, chrome apps, all the rest) and "full" windowing capabilities are coming to Android and not just that Google is cancelling ChromeOS and using some renaming and tweaks to Chrome on Android as a fig leaf to pretend otherwise.

I imagine that the lack of a DevTools front-end and extensions on mobile are product decisions, not technical ones. There's probably a compiler flag you could flip to compile an APK with support for both. Mobile devices have historically been small and underpowered; Google may have decided that including extensions would expose too much surface area to slow the browser down and/or kill the battery on a mobile processor. Similarly, they must have decided that the DevTools UI was designed for computers and wouldn't make sense on a small touch screen.

I'll be very surprised if they remove either feature from future Chromebooks.

The rumours about Android app support for ChromeOS were more promising. I'm able to get a lot of functionality out of my chromebook, exclusively due to the crouton extension. I've gotten through most of an electrical engineering degree on ChomeOS including developing android apps, writing and deploying javascript apps, and using ROS and PCL. I'm afraid this change will nix all of these, and I'll have to get a Mac to keep some UNIX functionality and maintain a rock-solid web-browsing experience. Not excited about that.

Why not Ubuntu?

ChromeOS is nothing but Linux with persistence sandboxed by default. All of its apps are nothing but webapps wrapped in a desktop app launcher ala Google Web Toolkit.

Merging with Android means nothing really, unless they plan to replace java-based Android apps with a runtime that natively supports webapps.

Lets call this what it really is. Alphabet/Google is killing any project that doesn't directly contribute revenue via advertising or Google Play sales.

Lets call this what it really is. Alphabet/Google is killing any project that doesn't directly contribute revenue via advertising or Google Play sales

Not really. This is Google rationalising their client OS strategy to be one rather than two. I'm amazed it took them this long.

unless they plan to replace java-based Android apps with a runtime that natively supports webapps

Replace? No. But Android has been picking up a lot of features that allow webapps to behave like native ones. Home screen installation, notifications...

It means they can sell Chromebooks for under $300 that run Android/ChromeOS that can run Google Play apps in the Chromebook. I am assuming they are merging ChromeOS and Android to make it runs apps from both platforms to increase the number of apps it can run.

This is sort of what Apple did when they bought out Next and merged NextOS with MacOS to make Mac OSX that ran Unix apps along with Mac apps.

If only Microsoft would merge Windows with Linux to make Winux or something that runs Windows and Linux apps.

> Lets call this what it really is. Alphabet/Google is killing any project that doesn't directly contribute revenue via advertising or Google Play sales.

That's obviously not true. See: Google Cloud Platform, Calico, and so on.

You could probably rewrite the previous statement as

"Alphabet/Google is killing any product that doesn't directly contribute ongoing revenue"

That would include Google Cloud like you mentioned and exclude Calico as that is currently a research project.

I wonder how Microsoft will respond to this? Come July 2016 will Microsoft really stop the free upgrade from 7/8 to 10 or will they just make Windows free to consumers? Obviously there will still be a (small) charge to OEMs and for business users they will still charge for the Pro and Enterprise versions but I think it is time for Windows Home to become free.

Also what about the folks who tried to install Windows 10, but their installer gives up with the "Something Happened" error? Will Microsoft take calls to fix their bugs, or are those unable to upgrade because of choices Microsoft made in their code out of luck?

I ended up buying a whole new copy of Windows after my "upgraded" key was declared non-Genuine. Not a great experience, but I need Windows for my current work.

Windows will never be free to consumers, they still charge for new installs. A windows tax of 5%-10% on virtually all desktop/laptop computers is not small.

Yes probably to the OEMs, like I said, but I suspect in the future a current Windows consumer will be able to upgrade pretty much any version of Windows to the latest for free.

People see the OS as free these days. They get updates to their iPad, iPhone, Mac and Android (kind of, depends on the OEM) without having to pay.

You can't upgrade if you've switched motherboards.

New computer = new version of windows.

Well the "digital entitlement" won't auto activate that is true (and has been since XP) but a simple and quick call to the MS activation phoneline and the automated process just "resets" your license. Then you can activate on the new motherboard with any issues. I have actually done this myself a number of times since MS first introduced activation in 2001. Most recently with a free Windows 10 upgrade on a machine that needed a motherboard replacement. Took maybe 5 minutes. Annoying that I had to do it but now the machine activates just fine without a product key. It is a test machine so I have installed Windows 10 on it about 20 times and never once had an issue with activation :)

You can't do that with OEM licences.

Do you understand that means that you will persistently pay as a normal, non-techie, consumer every time you buy a new machine?

Also not sure why my parent post is getting downvotes, bit ridiculous really.

Yeah of course OEMs will still have to pay. That may or may not change, it is very hard to tell. MS will resist that as much as possible. However I believe that Microsoft will reposition Windows on consumer devices to a 'if you got Windows on that machine when you bought it then you can upgrade it for as long as the machine works' kind of setup. They already state licenses are for the life of the device and not to the user.

I have transferred OEM licenses to a new motherboard in the past, not with Windows 10 though. Yes it is technically not supposed to happen but I have never known the automated system decline a reset. I have changed a few motherboards over the years in OEM systems from Dell and IBM/Lenovo and never had a problem getting things sorted on the phone.

Lots of public schools are using Chromebooks. Aspects of the Chrome OS model are key features and justifications for it. As a taxpayer and parent in a school district that buys a lot of Chromebooks, this is an irritating pivot and feels like strategy tax because Chrome OS was the more visionary and future-forward model. I have a feeling that a not-insignificant portion of America's pubic education system was betting on it.

(edit: I know Sundar and Google are extraordinarily brilliant and know what they're doing...I am just envisioning Pixel C type devices, and this isn't the direction I think anyone thought Chromebooks were headed. I'll try to be more optimistic!)

I can only see 1 paragraph; why do people keep posting sites with broken content? Would be nice if people could link to actual content.

It's a WSJ original report, and the WSJ uses a paywall for everybody but Google News readers.

You can either find the same article in Google News; use a bookmarklet like Wait, Google Sent Me; or read The Verge's rehash of the WSJ article.

They also don't paywall organic search traffic.

Search the headline in google, then click the wsj link. If you're using chrome just highlight headline, right click, search, and then click wsj link.

Because it's easy to get past the paywall:


Oh, and it seems the story was completely fabricated by the WSJ. So we got one and a half paragraphs of lies, and a bunch of advice on how to read the rest of the lies in the article that may or may not work anymore...


Take the URL and paste it into google to read it. Works for most paywall sites.

It's not broken. Sometimes real newspapers that hire real reporters and do real reporting charge for their content. Not everything has to be free.

The Wall Street Journal will only let you read articles if you subscribe- if you google the article's headline and get at the site through google, though, you can read the whole article: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Alphabet%E2%80%99s+Google+to+Fold+Chrom...

That still gives me the paywall.

WSJ removed the Google exception a while ago.

I saw (wsj.com), clicked the "web" link under the title, then clicked the first link on Google to successfully view the article. Are you disabling sending of HTTP referrers?

It's definitely still working for me. Just double-checked.

Worked for me.

As a FirefoxOS user, I'm excited to hear this news, in the hopes that eventually people will realize that HTML+CSS+JS is not a terrible stand-in for a full-fledged OS (iOS/Android), depending on the task.

So what does this mean for security?

Since its inception, Chrome OS has made security a focus and put a large amount of work into it, everything from bootloaders to Linux kernel features such as seccomp-BPF and KASLR, to complement the existing high security of Chrome itself. It also borrows Chrome's silent and fast update mechanism, allowing for frequent security updates. Its sandbox may feel somewhat limiting, but for those who do manage to stay within it, Chrome OS is probably the most secure desktop platform in common use.

Meanwhile, even if Android's update issues were somehow solved, it has a pretty bad security reputation even apart from that, with a long list of historical vulnerabilities which could be basically said to stem from a lack of priority given to it (e.g. from designs which, while not inherently insecure, unnecessarily open up attack surface that could be eliminated with a better design, such as in the case of the "master key" vulnerabilities; or just from crappy code, such as binder - whether caused by lack of auditing or just lack of security awareness among its authors I don't know, but both can be considered part of making security a priority). Maybe things have gotten better, and I don't have that much experience with Android, but there is simply no comparison between the general Android app sandbox (which allows native code) and what you get under Chrome with NaCl and such. The latter isn't perfect (as I know, because I've exploited it repeatedly), but the attack surface to examine for bugs is just much smaller than on other systems. I'm not really giving it any justice with this brief description.

I guess that if you're especially worried about security you could just only use Chrome on Android, and not install or use any other apps, and that would get you most of the way there. Indeed, if you do so, you can still have access to the Chrome Web Store's paltry selection of apps - it's cross-platform, you don't have to go for the OS designed around it...

But essentially nobody will do that. And even if they did, the recent Stagefright vulnerabilities demonstrate the difficulty of accounting for every potential attack surface on an OS, and thus the benefit of having the OS engineers design the lockdown rather than the user coming up with something ad-hoc. (Plus, today at least, even under Chrome's sandbox, Android's version of the Linux kernel is not as secure as Chrome OS's. And again, this is all assuming Android slow update problem is solved, which is a pretty big assumption considering how long it's been around; if it isn't, that's already enough to basically doom platform security.)

So if Chrome OS is really folded into Android, the end result, I think, will be the destruction in practice of something that was really quite unique in the security world. Maybe I shouldn't be so pessimistic - after all, those same security engineers could now work on Android. But I am, because even if work is done on it, the platform just comes from such a different place that it would be hard to make the same.

Android is really getting bloated these days, my nexus7 becomes nearly unusable these days(the launcher is not responding, etc), haven't used chromeOS.

I recently bought a netbook(ACER) for $190 that I loaded with Linux and does everything I need, really why do I need ChromeOS?

Both ChromeOS and Android are OSes, it's like two Linux distributions, I don't know why they should "merge", what's the benefit for doing that? is it merge-able considering Android is such a JVM-hack?

Merging Chrome OS with Android means that now it will have access to the humongous ecosystem of App Developers, Platform Engineers, OEM's, ODM's, cheap ARM chipsets, a gazillion of tiny hack shops across China, Taiwan and India and test labs. And more in the form of an established brand name.

Android is bent and tested in unthinkable ways due to its reach. Let's see if Chrome OS is up to it.

Only one question hearing this news. Will my Chromebook run Android or am I stuck with ChromeOS with no new updates?

The operating system I work on https://webconverger.com/ I feel is just as secure as Chrome OS.

It self updates once installed (you can also downgrade if needed!) and we also have the entire rootfs in https://github.com/webconverger/webc for easy review. We https://webconverger.org/wireshark/ official Firefox releases to ensure it doesn't chat to third parties.



For years, Google insisted that there was an important difference because Android was for touchscreens and ChromeOS was for keyboards and pointing devices. But that went out the window when they released the Pixel. Suddenly, both Android and ChromeOS had to support touch, and there was no contest between them.

You see, ChromeOS is just a web browser running as the graphical shell. Android has a web browser, and it also has its own application platform. We end up with a comparison between "web browser + touch" and "web browser + touch + non-web applications", making Android objectively superior (when, before ChromeOS supported touch, you could argue that ChromeOS could have a better UI because it didn't need to support the peculiarities of a touch interface).

It makes no sense for Google to sell both a full-featured OS and a crippled OS.

Ah, so Android won the fight.

If there was a fight, and Android won, ChromeOS would just be abandoned. ChromeOS being folded into Andorid means that ChromeOS's time as a separate project to try things without disturbing the already phenomenally successful Android (and without being constrained by it) has run its course, and its time to apply ChromeOS lessons to Google's flagship client OS.

At this point, Android is about to win the fight of "client" operating system, overall. It definitely looks like the underdog in the Innovator's Dilemma (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Innovator's_Dilemma).

Of course, why use a browser pretending to be an OS, when one can have a full OS that has lots of browsers to choose from?!

LMFTFY - An OS (mostly) pretending to be a browser.

I said that on purpose and maintain my statement.

That was nothing more than the Chrome team playing at building OSes.

Android has much better brand appeal than ChromeOS

Google hit the sweet spot between Android and Chrome when they announced the continuity like features which they actually never released. Still, without being able to beam Android apps to Chromebook, I love the integrations my Android Wear, phone and Chromebook have.

They should just integrate it closer, which can be done without running the same OS. Heck, even Microsoft could do it. Just how do companies justify screwing over customers to simplify board meetings. About the last thing I want my trusty Chromebook to do is for it to be become Galaxy Booktab Duos III. Which, given that I have Samsung version, it will become.

This makes me sad. I used ChromeOS as my daily driver for over a year, and it worked beautifully. Always secure, always up to date. The available fast and elegant SSH and IRC clients combined with Google Drive alone covered most of my daily necessity.

I only stopped using ChromeOS because Microsoft hired me and gave me a computer that cost 5x as much. Google did an admirable job in optimizing for low-end hardware, but there is a point where you can only eek so much out of a dual-core ARM with 2Gb of RAM.

On the other hand, my android phone (which cost the same as the chromebook) regularly struggles to load the homescreen.

It's going to be really interesting where they end up with tablets because right now Android on tablets is pretty rubbish. And that's not just an apps thing - it's the only one without split screen apps for example. There used to be a tablet UI with ICS, there's very little to distinguish them from a blown up phone at this point.

It seems Apple have been very successful with iOS, but making smart enhancements like gestures and split screen that Google just never did. And of course Microsoft are doing very interesting things with Windows on tablets.

Android and ChromeOS embody pragmatism and idealism. Android does everything everyone needs it to do but it's rotten on the inside because the focus is always on shipping. ChromeOS is a great vision for the future of detached computing but no one uses it because the vision hasn't been fully realized. I've been wondering whether this was going to happen ever since Chrome tabs on Android became equal citizens with the other apps. Seems like another good move from Google.

If this happens then the web as a platform will lose. No more Javascript everywhere, forget about all the browser improvements of the last years: we're going Java!

The ecosystem for building apps using Javascript remains strong (Cordova, Ionic, React Native, Titanium, etc). I don't see what bearing this would have on that.

I think you are overdramatizing here. There are always new things building on the web as a platform. I don't really think people and especially developers cared enough about ChromeOS. If anything, Google has just shown more reason not to invest in its platforms early, or even a few years into the cycle unless they have huge commercial traction (i.e. Android).

The browser is a pretty terrible platform for most things to be honest. I say this as someone who is using it to develop their startup as a web app and as someone who has been doing web apps since there wasn't even such a term. When people at work used to tell me how amazing the browser as as a platform, I'd ask them to do simple things that the browser sucks at vs. other platforms. For example, I'd ask people to simply to do various kinds of positioning tasks, alignment, centering, etc. It's amazing how hard at various points in the history of the browser, css, js, etc. it's been to do these seemingly easy tasks. The lengths one has to go to just to get acceptable performance in many scenarios is shocking.

The browser is nice in many ways, but sometimes the ease of printing to the screen is a curse. I am reminded of people writing 20 line BASIC programs way back when and thinking that made them master programmers. The instant gratification and pushing aside of various concerns is great, until you hit those road blocks that are crippling for many types of apps. Somewhere there are old embedded dev colleagues of mine wondering why their new powerful computer is practically on its knees with a bunch of tabs open showing improperly aligned pictures of cats. The browser is great, easy for many things, but that does not always make something good and worth using for every task, or even most tasks. Sadly, a lot of what I see in the browser is cobbled together nonsense that does very little and reminds me of the machine that goes bing.

I know it's an unpopular belief here, but the browser is honestly built on a rotten core from rendering to security to data transport/format. Hindsight is always easier, but the thing is we do have it, and yet we continue to invest in it like there is never going to be another alternative.

I could go on, but suffice to say I wonder sometimes if continuing to build on the browser, and even the web itself is really worth the pain. I wish we'd take a step back and look at the internet itself, and if not that, than at least building other things on the internet like in earlier days. Sometimes I find myself wishing for simple text based menus or something like gopher because at least you found stuff, got things done, and they would be even faster and more efficient now that many of us have decent connections.

Thank you.

I don't think the tiny market share of Chromebooks is going to make any difference in Javascript's viability.

if you watch D conference with Bill Gates and Steve Jobs they both say that the browser will take a (giant) step back in favor of rich clients. It only makes sense, stuffing everything into the browser is a terrible proposition on its own for various reasons, but the development tools are very bad too, so no real gain.

That's exactly what I'm criticizing.

Which reasons?

Performance just to name 1, but very important one.

Yeah cuz Android doesnt have a web browser..

I'm fine with that.

The web was supposed to be a, well, web of interlinked documents. Using the web as an applications platform has always been an ugly, ugly kludge.

Let's separate our document-browsing system from our applications platform again.

You're fine with being to write the same app in various languages? You're fine in having a natural tendency to a monopoly in the OS landscape (because of costs)?

Either you're writing apps you hybrid technologies (like Cordova or electron or the like) or you're already doing that (objc, java, C# to target android/ios/osx/windows)

IF this change made all Chrome extensions go away (which it won't), it would have a pretty minimal impact on the current development landscape.

People are really up in arms about this but keep in mind this is something that won't ship until 2017; the Android you know today won't simply have ChromeOS running as an "app"; it'll be deeply integrated and they'll likely address the multitasking issues they have today (2 years is a long time in technology terms).

I'll save any criticisms I have for when I actually know what the ultimate combination looks like.

Since Chrome OS currently includes Flash Player but Android doesn't, could this mean that Flash Player will be removed from Chrome on all platforms in 2017?

I can only hope Flash Player will be removed from every platform in existence in 2017.

finally. This is something which is obvious and had to happen someday. The challenge is to take core components in Android and Linux (systemd vs android init or kdbus vs binder) and merge them together. Interestingly, this summer there was a student project layering binder API on kdbus [1]

I personally believe that SteamOS jumped the gun by not taking a bold step in this direction. It would have tapped into a even bigger developer community, accelerated the adoption of Vulkan and would have moved towards a larger Linux mindshare. It would have been an awesome world where most android apps could run on my desktop and my desktop has drivers that works with all graphics cards.

[1] https://linuxplumbersconf.org/2015/ocw/proposals/3417

Paul Buchheit predicted this in 2010 to happen in 2011.

Reference: http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/14/gmail-creator-paul-buchheit...

What is Chrome OS like in terms of phoning home to Google? Is it Windows 10 bad?

Diagnostics, usage telemetry, advertising, tracking etc.?

I've never used ChromeOS and I'm more concerned about these things potentially making into stock Android (more than is already there now anyway).

Chrome OS would have had more chances if they gave it more capabilities. Being limited to essentially chrome extensions as apps suck! Users want to install easily Atom, postgres or redis or even simple tools like GIMP without fighting against the machine

"Users", the vast majority of users, buy chromebooks because they're billed as inexpensive, secure, zero maintenance windows alternatives.

Not developers.

Developers has huge impact on peoples option. Every family/community has nerd which everyone talks to him before buying anything most of the time. If you want to dominate market share , it is only enough to dominate nerd people.

I couldn't disagree more.

I'm a developer, and personally have no interest in a Chromebook but there's no way I'd recommend the types of machines I use to my mother. I'd use my knowledge of computers to recommend something that's actually suited for her use case - ie, Faceborg, email, downloading malware, etc.

I would also be swayed towards the computer that's easiest to maintain (meaning less call-outs).

I think you misunderstood what was my point, my point wasn't that developer suggests chromebook (I don't personally),My point was if chromebook would have ordinary stuff (like you said) it was much superior influence on developers (almost all of developers I know, would jump into linux base desktop if google can provide perfect DE), because of google's open source background. the influence neither microsoft or apple don't have.But sadly the are missing such huge interest on market , just because of their ego, it took 7 years to understand Google need a desktop operating system.if they do not provide operating system, someone like microsoft and its smart ceo Nadalla would come and steal whole their web based user base in long term.And effectively can kill google.

p.s. look at how small was canonical. whole canonical investment on ubuntu is something google can throw away.just for securing its user base.

That would negate the most important and unique feature of ChromeOS - it's literally impossible to fuck it up by installing bad stuff (or at the very least it's trivial to fix via a reset).

I gather this had made it popular in several markets.

Looks like what Win 8 would have been if Microsoft had already had a tablet operating system.

Mostly concerned about schools who use them for students. A full blown Windows machine is going to be so much more of a maintenance nightmare for the school. Feature-light is a good thing, especially for elementary and middle school age students.

I would love to fully switch from Mac to Android if Google releases a solid, fast, secure and full of software OS. Sketch, Adobe, Sublime for Android along with Material Design UI looks promising.

Oh, thank goodness.

Both operating systems have their merits, but require Google to split their focus. And yes, this is in contrast to iOS/Mac Os/watchOS/tvOS, which is a common OS divided by UI

I really hope a robust community steps up to continue it as an open source project.

This is a backup plan in case Google loses the fair use case against oracle / java.

Android has so many problems it is even difficult to start talking.

Any sufficiently big project has its downs. Your comment doesn't give any information to audience. Care to elaborate?

Please, start

They are still being sued by Oracle over the base the OS is built on.

Lol, i love how this is at the bottom of the HN comments page. Sometimes HN can be kinda clueless.

Not sure what the status of that lawsuit has to do with anything. It's not like Google is going to admit defeat and stop moving forward based on a lawsuit that isn't even resolved (which was dismissed once, only to be revived via appeal). Worst case scenario is that Google will pay a damage and start paying Oracle licensing fees for Android, the same way they pay Microsoft.

Google doesn't pay Microsoft

You're correct - I believe it's the handset manufacturers that do

memory management, allocation, and garbage collection. Some of this is from Java, but for awhile, Android GC was a nightmare.

It's gotten better, but it still sucks in many scenarios. If you need to support older versions of Android, you can't count on many of the improvements at all to help you. If you've never experienced this, you probably never did any serious performance optimization and things like performance sensitive gamedev on Android.

Poor separation of personal data and "app data".

Stimuli to closed-source software.

What are you talking about?

One app interfering with others.

Malware, viruses.

Please, point just one virus for Android

Are you sure you're not the one with problems?

Fucking finally.

Really don't want Android on a PC.

And I really don't want Windows on a PC.

I guess you don't like PC gaming or using a host of Windows only powerful apps.

Come on, I run OSX and various flavors of Windows, Android, Linux, and BSD at home. Use the right tools for the right job. Windows isn't so bad and is pretty stable these days. I actually have more problems with OSX doing stupid stuff after updates or Linux murdering my hardware/desktop every few months vs. windows. My primary dev env is Linux and OSX, but I still use windows for gaming, personal use, etc.

It's not hip anymore to just rip things because they are MS, closed-source, whatever. Grow up. Every OS does many things better than the competition. Acknowledge that most of the major OS's are pretty good and use the ones that do what you need instead of ripping on them.

I love PC gaming and I really dislike Windows.

I begrudgingly upgraded to Windows 10 because it will be the only OS with DirectX 12 support.

However the absurd level of phoning home the OS does made me also build a new machine running Debian, which I now use for all my work and general personal computing.

My Windows machine is gaming/Steam focused only now. No cloud integration, no Microsoft Account.

If 99% of games worked on Linux, or SteamOS makes good progress as a viable replacement for Windows on a desktop I'll drop Windows in a heart beat.

I have zero attachment to it and the OS offers nothing I can't get elsewhere. Except perhaps for Netflix, the Windows Store is a wasteland of terrible apps that for the most part are worse than their Win32 counterparts.

I too hate the phoning home, so good point. I feel like apps in general, whether on my phone, ps4, anything are trying to do this in some form or another. I do not want improved recommendations, a "better" future experience, or anything else. I do not want to contribute to your analytics meetings.

I agree the Windows store apps are also terrible. There are still quite a lot of non-windows store exclusive apps that you might not use that work great on windows. Likewise, there are various cross-platform apps that also work better on windows.

In a second life, I've done quite a bit of side work in graphic design, music production, and animation. Suffice to say that while Mac OS and later OSX were dominant at times in these spaces, there were always periods where this was not true. If anything, Apple seems pretty evil to these users in the last 5 years. I've had very little trouble with my apps in these areas on windows, while on OSX my friends can't stop ranting about things that have happened to Final Cut Pro, Logic, Garage Band, and other apps. I still use the aforementioned and don't necessarily agree in all cases, but it is true for some people. It may be bias or laziness on the dev, but reality is reality - just the other day I got a new sound interface and it works much better on Windows than OSX, and I use it on both for different tasks.

Then use linux.

Really, we're doing "Alphabet’s Google" now?

It's helpful for all the readers who are familiar with Alphabet, Inc., but have never heard of its Google subsidiary.

Maybe they could Google it :). I don't think Alphabet will ever be as popular as Google. That's like knowing that Comedy Central is owned by Viacom. Yes, that's true, but you probably don't care and don't really think about Viacom at all.

Viacom's Comedy Central doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

What about Viacomedy Central?

I see what you did there...

It's going to take some time for news organizations to get used to this brave new holding-company world, eh?

This made me crack up.

It'd like to see them do a story about Alphabet's Google's YouTube.

Or one about Alphabet's Google's use of Alphabet's Google's Google+ for comments on Alphabet's Google's YouTube Red videos.

Somehow this feels like I'm writing C code but am unable to take a pointer to anything but the top-level object.

In Java:

        getCommentFactory(), Alphabet.getGoogle().getYouTube().
In python:

    import alphabet.google as google
Am i doing it right?

(edited for javaness!)

Almost, just change the getters to lowercase 'g'et and add a bunch of unnecessary Spring boilerplate on top of it all.


In some ES6 JavaScript:

   import {google} from 'alphabet';
   let {google_plus, youtube} = google;
   google.apply(google_plus.comments, youtube.videos(youtube.RED));


It's much more beautiful if you use Android SDK:

  private boolean googleSubsidiaryConnectionSuccess = false;
  private boolean googleSubsidiaryConnectionInProgress = false;
  private GoogleSubsidiary googleSubsidiary = null;
  private GoogleVideoHostingManager googleVideoHostingService = null;

  protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
     GoogleApiClient.Builder builder = new GoogleApiClient.Builder(this)
     GoogleApiClient client = builder.build();
     googleSubsidiaryConnectionInProgress = true;
  protected void onActivityResult(int requestCode, int resultCode, Intent data /* ignored */) {
     if (requestCode == GoogleSubsidiary.EXISTS_AND_IS_PROFITABLE) { // actual value is -11
          if (responseCode != Activity.RESULT_OK) {
              Log.w(TAG, "could not get subsidiary");
              googleSubsidiaryConnectionSuccess = false;
              if (!client.isConnecting()) {
                  Log.v(TAG, "calling googleApiClient.connect again");
      } else {
          Log.w(TAG, "Google subsidiary may be out of business. Not sure.");
          if (!googleSubsidiaryConnectionInProgress && !client.isConnecting()) {
  public void onConnected(Bundle connectionHint) {
     googleSubsidiaryConnectionSuccess = true;
     googleSubsidiaryConnectionInProgress = false;
     GoogleSubsidiaryToken googleSubsidiaryToken = GoogleSubsidiaryUtil.getToken(activity, GOOGLE_SUBSIDIARY_TOKEN_REQUEST_SCOPE);
     try {
          googleSubsidiary = (GoogleSubsidiary)GoogleSubsidiaryUtil.getSubsidiaryObjectFromToken(googleSubsidiaryToken);
          googleVideoHostingService = (GoogleVideoHostingManager)googleSubsidiary.getService(GoogleSubsidiary.YOU_TUBE_SERVICE);
          if (googleVideoHostingService == null && !client.isConnecting()) {
     } catch (SubsidiaryTokenOutOfDateException ex) {
          googleSubsidiaryConnectionSuccess = false;
          if (!client.isConnecting()) {

Have you tried Alphabet's Google's YouTube's Youtube Red?

Isn't that the paid version of redtube?

I'm pretty sure he means redtube where free porn comes from.

Don't forget Alphabet's Google's Google Music All Access.

You missed a word! It's actually Alphabet's Google's Google PLAY Music All Access

There's a funny chrome extension to be made here. I'll let someone else take the initiative.

You mean, Alphabet Inc.'s Google's Google Chrome operating system's Google Chrome browser extension?

But does it handle "Google Chrome" and "Google+" correctly? Clearly, these should be written as "Alphabet Inc's Google's Chrome"† and "Alphabet Inc's Google's Google+", respectively.

† Or "Alphabet Inc's Google's Google Chrome".

This is a fantastic interview question.

Awkward phrasing from News Corp's Wall Street Journal.

Awkward, if you're not considering it as a technical source (and it is, in its field). If your primary concern, as a reader, was monitoring potentially important information as it pertained to your investments, would you not prefer that they lead with the actual thing in which you may be invested? Is it not a lot easier to scan for "News Corp" than to have to make the associations in your head that "Wall Street Journal" is something that one of your investments owns?

IMO it's just "consider your audience" writ large.

Actually, I applaud the WSJ's bold new vision of fully revealing the full chain of ownership of all corporate subsidiaries, components, shell companies, and other mechanisms and methods for hiding true oligarchic control.

I'm guessing WSJ always wants to include the name of the stock involved.

While it looks odd in a technology context, for investors it makes sense because Google is listed officially listed as Alphabet. Therefore, the association between the two concerns is useful for less technically savvy business and investment readers which represent WSJ's primary audience.

Seriously, that's ridiculous.

Alphabet's Nest, for instance, would make sense - it's not a household name.

Consider that the target audience of the WSJ is much more "investor" than "technologist". You really think investors wouldn't want mention of a company that might be in their portfolio? 'Cause that company isn't "Google", it's "Alphabet".

If you've invested in Alphabet without knowing that it's the company formerly known as Google you probably aren't someone who reads many articles about them.

If you thought Alphabet is the company formerly known as Google, you would be wrong. Alphabet is a conglomerate created to hold Google and was created first as a subsidiary of Google, to which a separate dummy subsidiary was created with which Google merged to convert Google stock into Alphabet stock.

Alphabet is not Google. Alphabet never was Google. Alphabet owns Google, and the performance of Google is tracked under Alphabet's own stock (which still uses GOOG, but is a concretely different stock). There is a difference, and these are people to whom it matters.

Quite a convenient way of structuring things if you're worried about anti-monopoly regulators?

In practice everyone knows it's everything which was previously under the Google umbrella.

And what "everyone knows" is not relevant to WSJ's audience. The company is Alphabet. It is not Google. I don't think this can be stated in simpler terms.

The WSJ's news section can be considered jargon of its own. I'm sure you would not react in the same way if a "business guy" criticized a piece of technical reporting for things you expected to be in it.

> The company is Alphabet. It is not Google. I don't think this can be stated in simpler terms.

Those terms are simple, but not accurate. The company this story is about is Google. Alphabet is the public traded corporation in whom WSJ readers may wish to invest (or disinvest) that owns the company the story is about. (Google and Alphabet are both companies, but Alphabet isn't taking any action that is being reported in this story.)

Sure, you are that most important kind of correct: technically so. And so I'll amend it: "the company that matters to the WSJ's audience is Alphabet because they're where the money is."

The mixture of pedantry and willful vagueness in this thread is weird.

Google is a company. Alphabet is a company. Alphabet owns Google.

The stocks are still listed as GOOG and GOOGL.

If your point is "that's the same thing", it's not, see elsewhere in this subtree. If your point is "that would be clearer", I agree; if the WSJ's standards for prose in reporting meant that they put stock ticker names in the headline, I'd guess that they would have (I don't recall ever seeing them do so before). But consistency, in technical publications, is generally valued. The name of the company in which readers hold stock is "Alphabet"--therefore, call it Alphabet.

Nest is actually a name in 100% more households than Google, considering it is nailed to a wall.

One time I tried to nail a Google to my wall. Larry was pissed.

Offices, on the other hand? Marginally more competitive. My last office had a Google Mini lying around! Not nailed to a wall, though I suppose it could have been and provided the same utility.

No, that's not true. I was using it to shim a monitor for a while. Nest still reigns supreme.

Larry Wall would approve.

A business publication would want to include Alphabet as clickbait.

It's especially funny considering they confuse/conflate Chrome (a web browser), ChromeOS (an operating system where all apps run in Chrome) and Chromebook (laptop running ChromeOS).

It took me like 10 times before I got the title. The rest of the sentence doesn't help of course.

Google asked for this, why are you blaming the media?

Finally! I never saw the purpose of a browser pretending to be an OS.

Had they tried something like a Smalltalk image like OS, using for example Dart instead of Smalltalk, that would be quite interesting.

Now a browser?!? All OSes already have a browser and are much more feature rich.

> Finally! I never saw the purpose of a browser pretending to be an OS

ChromeOS wasn't a browser pretending to be an OS, it was an OS with a browser as the GUI shell.

When we have a browser team trying to make it I into an OS, it is a browser pretending to be an OS, regardless how the technical stack looks like.

Seeing Android on PCs would be cool. It runs on top of Linux, it would pretty much do away with all current Desktop Linux variants I'm guessing. I could be missing something since I can't read the full story, it requires me to create an account or sign in. It might even give Windows a run for its money, heck I'd finally have a real reason to make and sell Android apps since I can actually read the fonts on my desktop "PC".

> I could be missing something since I can't read the full story, it requires me to create an account or sign in

You can search for the title in Google search and click on the link from there, you will get to see the full story. Long live SEO!

Android on a desktop wouldn't do away with all the distros that float around because they all attempt to address different problems and audiences.

If anything it would be probably treated like Ubuntu, an easily accessible, user-friendly distro.

I wonder if the name "Pixel C" for the new tablet presaged this.

But Pixel C is a pricey device. Chromebooks can be made very inexpensively. And Android would be suckey in an inexpensive laptop non-touch form-factor. I assume they have thought of this.

This will also be an interesting trajectory for getting tablet devices into business settings. It's not the response I expected to iPad Pro. I'd really like an Android-based direct competitor, which Pixel C isn't. Close, but not really.

If they do it right, it could be what Windows could have been: One browser runtime, one managed language runtime, one implementation language (or a family of them that compile to the same bytecode), across all form factors. But that "across all form factors" has eluded a solution so far. I don't blame Apple for not trying to get there first.

If you search the Chromium commit logs, you can see they are still actively working on features for the Ryu (Pixel C).

Part of this story hasn't been told yet. They announced it with Android, yet there is still hardware management work going on for the same device in ChromeOS. Now, WSJ is gossiping that ChromeOS and Android are merging, which would make continuing to do Ryu-specific work in ChromeOS even weirder.

> Now, WSJ is gossiping that ChromeOS and Android are merging, which would make continuing to do Ryu-specific work in ChromeOS even weirder.

Actually, it makes perfect sense, if, when ChromeOS merges into Android, Ryu (or its similar successor platform, by 2017) is going to be one of the targets for the merged OS, and some of the features of the merged OS that are important are based on the ChromeOS side of the fence.

Merging ChromeOS into Android is not the same thing as abandoning ChromeOS in favor of Android.

I hadn't heard of the continuing work before - it would make sense, however, for them to develop a tablet for ChromeOS and then switch later on in the design cycle.

I doubt they'll release a convergent OS anytime soon, that'll probably be a part of Android 7.0, which'll probably be announced next June.

Except they announced it with Android. That's what's weird.

The commit logs make me think it will run Android OR ChromeOS, user's choice. Maybe eventually the dual boot mode gets deprecated in favor of the converged OS. But if they are planning to converge, building and releasing two software stacks for the same device feels weird.

The more I write this, the more I wonder if they are somehow trying to get both running on one device to make sure that the converged experience is at least as good as both of the separate iterations its replacing. Still, that's an inordinate amount of work when they already have both ChromeOS and Android devices they could reference.

I agree, I also can't work out what they were thinking when they announced it like that. They've been completely silent about the Pixel-C since that day despite saying it would ship before the end of the year. Even if they do ship it, the OS is not ready without any multiwindow capability active yet. It seems to me they decided to announce it very early for some reason and with nothing else scheduled until I/O next year, the Android announcement was where they could do that. Of course, they could hardly announce all the rest of the story without tipping their hand, so they just said it would ship with Android.

My only good theory is that they are actually quite worried about the converged laptop / tablet space and pulled the Pixel-C forward as PR to somehow counter Microsoft's announcements in that space which happened shortly after. I still don't quite see what they achieved but I can imagine them doing it just to make a statement.

> And Android would be suckey in an inexpensive laptop non-touch form-factor.

Today's Android. Android with ChromeOS folded into it could look just like ChromeOS, except with the ability to install/run Android apps natively.

It could also look just like Android, but with the ability to install/run Chrome Apps.

It could even be configured to look, by default, like existing ChromeOS on desktop platforms and like existing Android and handheld platforms.

Well sure. Android will need to be a good car, TV, and whatnot os. Why not desktops? But that's what Microsoft broke their pick on. Windows 8 Was suckey on all form factors. Easy to get this wrong.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact