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Chrome OS has stalled out (androidpolice.com)
155 points by randomerr 15 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 199 comments



I use Chrome OS daily to do my job and I think it is fantastic. IMO it is the ultimate work machine for your average knowledge worker.

At my company, all the software that we use is web-based (SaaS), with the exception of software engineers, who are using local tools to develop web based applications.

For non-engineers, the OS provides an extremely simple client to use to do their job. The OS is a slightly better web browsing experience than the Mac, and since all you need to do your job is a browser, it works great. The OS presents your google drive cleanly as a local filesystem, so you can even avoid any local storage completely. The OS is security-first, and is far more resistant to malware than a Mac or Windows machine.

For engineers, you get all of the above and a well functioning linux distribution on which you can build software. Since everything we deploy is on linux, it's closer to our production environment than the mac.

The best part of the experience is how the cloud oriented nature of the OS lets me treat my laptops like cattle rather than pets. If you lose your device, just grab another one. All your stuff is up in the cloud. Strange bug? just power wash the machine and start over.

I also think that journalists or hobbyists may have a hard time appreciating the OS. Yes, it is terrible at things like video editing, games, audio editing, etc. But for a work machine in an enterprise environment, it's fantastic.


I don't think relying on a third party and especially one that is as fickle as Google to do the most basic workload is a sound idea.

I won't be surprised if Google kills Chrome OS in the near future, as they killed a lot of stuff already[0].

I don't trust Google anymore.

[0]: https://killedbygoogle.com/


While Google hasn't been the best at supporting products (and support in general), I always find statements like this with sites like that distasteful, as they leave out a lot of context that mitigates how bad it is. Sure, Google is EOLing Hangouts, but they provide a replacement. Sure, they've turned down a lot of products (like reader), but many (possibly most of the very large number presented on that site) were beta products.

I clearly remember telling people that asked me about whether they should worry about it saying beta on some Google product I had recommended that Google always leaves stuff in beta for years and not to worry. Well, now we all know better. I'm not happy about it, but I don't feel like I can blame them for that either. They were pretty up-front about services being beta in most cases.


And, as far as Chrome OS specifically is concerned...Yes, I'd be more than annoyed if they pulled support for my new PixelBook in anything less than a reasonable support window.

But my use of Chrome OS creates far less lock-in for me than most products. Other than my hardware investment--which I don't expect to last forever--I could basically switch to anything else with a browser next week basically without skipping a beat.


Here is the thing. Google has one primary source of revenue. Ad tech. If Ad tech fails, all their other sources of revenue won't be able to pay for their other services, so the fear they'll cut them is warranted.

Disclaimer I use Google services, but I'm definitely looking for alternatives.


> Here is the thing. Google has one primary source of revenue. Ad tech.

This is changing though - the most recent quarterly report has YTD ad revenues as 84% of overall revenues, with the corresponding previous year's period at 86%. The non-ad revenues are in the tens of billions of dollars - hardly nothing.

https://abc.xyz/investor/


If your other preferred client is the Mac, you have the same challenge with Apple. Their entire mac product line is only 10% of their revenue.


Do google developers get issued chromebooks these days? Either way, there’s a large scale difference in the amount of money (because Apple makes more money than google in addition to 10% being 4x the 2.5% of revenue google is devoting to chromebooks). On top of that, Mac revenue is eaten into by iOS device revenue, which is a pretty close product category. Much closer than ads, at least.


Yes, they do. The default machine you get is a pixelbook, that’s true of basically everyone at Google. You can request a Mac, which is what I did, but I later also got a pixelbook and found that I quite like it.

Literally the only thing keeping me from using it as my primary work machine is that it only supports one chrome browser profile per login, so I can’t be logged into my work account at an OS level and my work and personal accounts at the chrome level. But I went and paid out of pocket for a pixelbook for home because I thought it was a great all around home laptop.

(Disclaimer: I work at google, but not on chromeos or hardware, this is just my personal experience )


Did they remove multi profile login?!

You used to be able to login with several accounts and switch between them similar to virtual desktops.


You can still switch between accounts on ChromeOS. I do this on my Google issued Pixelbook daily.

Once you're signed into the other account, you can switch quite easily with <CTRL> + ,


Sorry, to be clear, it switches all of your windows like a separate desktop. I like having both windows available simultaneously. I realize this is a nit picky complaint, and I am in the minority.

You can run the embedded Linux and then run Firefox there. Also, with multiple workspaces now supported I'm funded less reason to grab the mac (bettertouchtool being one thing). I even have vscode running full screen in another orksoace and can easily swap over.

Very neat, thanks for the insights!


It isn't the same challenge because Apple doesn't sell Macs at a loss.


Are you saying that Google sells Chrome OS at a loss?


They do make a substantial amount of money with G Suite subscriptions, and they're bound to SLAs.

I on the other hand avoid vendor lockin like the plague and self host open source applications where i can.

But as long as you can install another linux on a chromebook(i once bought a refurbished x131e for less than $100,upped the ram to 8gb, put a seagate sshd hybrid in it and dual booted windows10 + ubuntu on it. Its just like any other laptop except no function keys) there's really no issue here..


Google EOLed Chromebooks that were sold 3 years ago, they do not give a crap about maintaining a stable ecosystem.

These 3 year old Chromebooks don't even get Chrome security patches, you would literally be better off with any other laptop when it comes to security.


Beta means prerelease testing, not EOL.


Beta means not meant for general use/production, and all that implies about people being upset about beta products being diacontinued.

I was covering two distinct cases, one where Google discontinues a production product, and generally they have a different product to migrate to, and one where Google discontinues a beta peoduct, where it seems they usually don't care if you were reliant on it.

Beta does mean prerelease testing, and while it implies they are moving towards a release, there's no guarantee implied or otherwise that a release is forthcoming.


And non beta is no guarantee that a product won't be discontinued.

This is a confusing and boring take.

A) You have to trust third parties.

B) It's boring to point out what Google has killed. But when you look at that list there's nothing as substantial as ChromeOS.

Finally, ChromeOS is incredibly widely used internally, and is a revenue generating product in the Chromebook family sold to enterprises alongside Cloud products. It is not an area where Google is going to capitulate or kill without a sufficiently long runway and carefully considered EOL plan.

Disclosure: am Googler. Am tired of half-considered takes on Google.


> But when you look at that list there's nothing as substantial as ChromeOS.

Google+ got way, way more investment than ChromeOS and was considered a top priority at the C-level. Still killed.


The context of this thread is Enterprise, where G+ was not killed.


In the enterprise context, I guess the Google Search Appliance would be a good example.

Before you say "it wasn't widely used" -- that's probably why it was killed. Google customers who use a product that doesn't lead its market and/or make megabucks should be worried.

We know there are other products that are failing to gain traction in the marketplace -- like GCP. While I'm not saying GCP will meet Search Appliance's fate, it has already been reported[1] that there will be financial consequences if GCP is unable to get a #2 position in the cloud marketplace by 2023.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21815260


What’s the margin vs Google’s ad business?


There not much relying involved. It's not like Android, which is considerably less useful without the Googley bits. It's just a regular Linux desktop with Chrome pre-installed.

Even if Google would kill all of Chrome in its entirety you could still run other software on it. You would lose secure boot but that's about it. It's more like a PC than an embedded system.


Exactly. I am running android with microg without any google software installed. I cope with it, I had to reverse and patch banking software as it was using "safety net" but it works perfectly with few smali gotos added. If you take chrome os you have installed spyware as an os.

Sorry, maybe "I have nothing to hide as a person, but as a bussiness I have plenty to hide.

Or just avoid Adobe scenario (I live in EU): https://www.theverge.com/2019/10/7/20904030/adobe-venezuela-...


What Enterprise spyware is in ChromeOS/GSuite?

But there is no lock-in there.

If Chrome OS is dead, we switch to regular Linux|MacOS|Windows laptop running Chrome. It is more annoying and less secure, but all the software still runs.

And Chrome-the-browser is pretty unlikely to be killed.


> https://killedbygoogle.com/

Looks like they are missing DejaNews / Google Groups (it started as an index /browser to Usenet, but was transformed as a tool for mailing lists)


> I won't be surprised if Google kills Chrome OS in the near future

I think both Chrome OS and Android will be replaced by Fuchsia at some point. Native apps will be written in Dart/Flutter and they will also support web Chrome apps like Chrome OS does today.


Honestly this trope is tiring. FUD.


You might be tired of it, but what it underscores is that Google has developed a reputation for creating experiments and killing them off when they no longer serves Google's purpose. It reminds Google's users that they're not customers, but proverbial farm animals whose attention is being auctioned off to advertisers.

I get why they need to kill off products. I took a few minutes to look through https://killedbygoogle.com/ and there are a lot of fleeting, gimmicky things on that list that should have never been released in the first place.

Google has an image problem with this. By releasing all these unfocused products into the wild, they've signaled that they will create unfocused products and kill off the ones that aren't hugely successful.

Now when they launch a new idea, people are no longer excited, but legitimately suspicious. When Google launched Allo and Duo at the same time (while Hangouts still existed), it sent a clear message that they really didn't care about product management and continuity or communicating to their users. They would rather be the ADD company that built 3 competing things and measure usage than to nurture and improve already successful products.

People don't like having the rug pulled out from under them and the repetition of this trope will continue to echo so long as it resonates with readers. Even if it's FUD, this is a big problem for Google.

I don't think Chrome OS will be on this list anytime soon, but if something shinier comes around, can you honestly tell me Google won't drop Chrome OS for the shinier thing?


Enterprise products are not ad financed.


FUD is exactly what it is, with good reason given Google’s habits with “poorly” performing products lately. Mind you, in chromeOS’s case it’s easy to go back to a regular computer.


How is it FUD? They literally keep killing years old projects. A lot of those project had a lot of regular users that added them to their workload for years just for Google to scrap them with no alternative.

How one can trust them is beyond me.

Then there is horror stories like this one[0]

[0]:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWaz7ofl5wQ


That’s a really lazy argument.

The entire business world relys on a third party product (Microsoft Windows) whose business model has already changed and has already mostly killed its once flagship product (perpetually licensed windows).

Google writes contracts for chrome enterprise support that are 5-7 years long, so it’s unlikely they would just make the product go poof.


The enterprise support contracts state that the EOL date is the one listed publicly: https://support.google.com/chrome/a/answer/6220366?hl=en

This means the Thinkpad X131e had under 3 years of support if you bought it brand new like many school districts did in 2015.


> This means the ThinkPad X131e had under 3 years of support if you bought it brand new like many school districts did in 2015.

The ThinkPad X131e Chromebook was originally released in February 2013 [1] and has received five years of Chrome OS updates from Google. From March 2017 onwards, new Chrome OS devices receive 6.5 years of support [2] and in November 2019 many received a further year of support on top of that [3] so the update situation is a lot better than it was.

School districts purchasing X131e Chromebooks would have known at the time of purchase that they would stop receiving updates in February 2018 [4]. Being two plus years into their lifecycle is not really Google's fault. The districts need to do better due diligence.

As you mentioned, EOL dates for all Chrome OS devices are published in an article on Google's website [5]. To get the most life out of a particular Chromebook model it needs to purchased as close to launch day as possible. That's what I always try to do when purchasing Chromebooks where I work.

It's also worth mentioning that the X131e is supported by Neverware's CloudReady until 2025 [6] so the Chromebooks don't have to be thrown away when Google stops supporting them.

[1] http://www.notebookreview.com/news/lenovo-releases-thinkpad-...

[2] https://chromeunboxed.com/googles-end-of-life-policy-for-chr...

[3] https://www.androidpolice.com/2019/11/05/google-gives-most-c...

[4] https://web.archive.org/web/20151120005811/https://support.g...

[5] https://support.google.com/chrome/a/answer/6220366?hl=en

[6] https://guide.neverware.com/supported-devices/#LenovoThinkpa...


Due Diligence == Not buying ChromeOS.

My 2011 Windows desktop runs Win 10 and drivers just fine.

2012 Macs work fine with Catalina.


If you buy old stuff late in the lifecycle you’ll have that problem.

This issue exists with Windows as well. PC OEMs will only commit to a few years of driver support. I have a few thousand PCs that are 2018 purchases that will not be eligible for the next major branch of Windows 10 and will need to be replaced by mid 2021.


Considering how much the education sector uses Chromebook for their students (a big market they managed to capture early), I doubt they'd pull the plug on ChromeOS out of the blue without a long heads-up.

That's an issue for the web services, not Chrome OS, given that the appeal of Chrome OS is not installing apps or keeping data locally.

You can switch to 'anything' running Chrome as a replacement.


I’m more concerned that ChromeOS is essentially a spyware operating system.


How so, for GSuite?

I love your pets vs. cattle analogy. I hope I remember that. But I think this is key:

But for a work machine in an enterprise environment, it's fantastic

You're using it as a thin client, and that's great; it works for you. But outside of a controlled environment, ChromeOS becomes less and less useful, especially as connectivity deteriorates or becomes less predictable.

To continue with your analogy — the pets will find their way home. Once the cattle are off the ranch, they're gone.


If you have a network connection, https and sound logins, I'm not sure how it's less useful outside the controlled environment?


> especially as connectivity deteriorates or becomes less predictable

That's exactly the situation I have for about half of my computing: if I'm not at my home office, I'm either at a coffee shop, on-site with a client, or at one of my rural properties. In all three cases, who knows what I'm going to have as far as reliable Internet goes? With Windows/OSX/Linux, the majority of things will work with spotty Internet (although that too is sadly becoming less true over time)


More on where "pets vs cattle" comes from: http://cloudscaling.com/blog/cloud-computing/the-history-of-...


Well as a work machine in enterprise environment you want to have data under your own control and Google not even fails to deliver, but it is increasing security risk for your data (corporate espionage on USA government level is just one thing that comes to my mind). I have shown this post to a few security guys and they had quite a good laugh. I personally wouldn't use it even if it was free. But I don't live or work in states, maybe google is ok for USA companies.


Now more than ever, businesses are moving everything to the cloud. Unless you are big enough to afford sysadmins, netsec and other knowledgeable personnel, your data is safer at big cloud providers, than in your own hands.

Even if you have all that at your disposal, it's probably still safer (and more reliable) there, unless:

  a) you actually have to worry about espionage from Google and various governments,
  b) you cannot legally use them (I think some health/financial data under GDPR cannot be hosted outside of the EU), or
  c) you are doing something illegal.
GSuite and GCP are ISO/SOC/HIPAA/etc. compliant, so if there is a breach on their side, you are legally covered.

Not necessarily my opinion on cloud vs self-hosting, but it makes sense from a business perspective.


> Yes, it is terrible at things like video editing, games, audio editing, etc. But for a work machine in an enterprise environment, it's fantastic.

Unless it runs Excel, that seems unlikely to apply to the enterprise in general.


Microsoft Excel has a web-based version and Google Sheets is pretty good. So unless your enterprise needs spreadsheet features that those don't have, it's fine.


Which are: VSTO plugins, pivot tables, equation editing, database connectivity, import-from-file, document protection, ... The list goes on. Excel on web is not at feature parity with Excel on desktop.


The real answer that already exists to "having a thin client with native Excel" is to stand up a Windows Server instance with Excel installed and a Citrix gateway, and have your thin clients connect to it. My bank does it.


The kinds of people who rely on Excel to do their job assure me that Google Sheets is not even remotely sufficient and the web-based Excel isn't quite there either.


The Office 365's Excel online is pretty usable. I'm on Linux at home, so use it quite a bit... there's a couple sheets I have to use and interact with others on.


I increasingly travel with a ChromeBook. There's very little on my MacBook that I have to run locally and I find that GSuite works pretty well offline. (And that's where a lot of my files would be even if I were carrying a full laptop.)

Yes, ChromeBooks make you somewhat more dependent on networks. But, truth be told, I'm not getting a lot done other than reading or maybe writing if I don't have a network connection anyway whatever device I'm carrying.

There's not much I do day-to-day on my laptop that requires anything other than a browser.


I have a Chromebook myself and the situation is much less rosy than you describe. It's not all bad, and I'd definitely like to continue to use a Chromebook as a secondary system if possible. But I'd also hate it if it was my only machine. I'd also shrug my shoulders if I could no longer use a Chromebook, e.g. if it was discontinued.

A big issue with ChromeOS is its only browser, Chrome. Google has repeatedly demonstrated it's willing to put its ad-tech interests ahead of user demands (reader mode, good adblocking).

Yes, you can enable Linux support and install Firefox. A very small number of ChromeOS users will do so, if they're even allowed to. Note that Linux support is beta and comes with a lot of known issues. For organizations that support Linux, there are better routes to getting Linux into their engineers' hands.

The cloud-oriented nature of the laptop is sort of secondary. Dumb terminals have always had a place in the enterprise, for so-called 'tethered' users. It's entirely unsurprising that Chromebooks are similarly popular, they're better designed than most dumb terminals, and the BeyondCorp (zero-trust) approach to security is a good one.

> journalists or hobbyists may have a hard time appreciating the OS

While there are scenarios (e.g. travel) where Chromebook may be useful for journalists, journalists who need to keep their sources secret would be particularly ill-served by Chromebooks. People who're working on stuff that competes with Google (or indeed Microsoft, as Office 365 also works on Chromebook via web/Android), may also worry.

In short, if you're a 'tethered' user at work and could conceivably use a Wyse thin client, Chromebooks are great and probably superior to most other dumb terminals.


I have to respectfully disagree on the "well-functioning" adjective attached to their linux container system. Comparing Windows 10 WSL Ubuntu (default), Termux on a Pixel phone, and Debian (default) on a Pixel Slate... the slate is the worst. It renders text worse than the pixel phone and has about as much runtime capability as Termux on Android. Windows 10 WSL2 is going to be even better.

Every OS can be treated like cattle now. Games are in the cloud (Steam), package managers exist for every OS (homebrew, linuxbrew, chocolate) and installed-software manifests can be backed up to GitHub. It took Google years to add basic backup to its Linux system, and if you've customized the text settings for the console then ChromeOS is still not like cattle and you will have more setup to do.

(Termux is a phenomenal project. So glad it exists.)


I second this 100%. But this needs to be advocated more. Yesterday on a trending ask HN question how to prevent technology scams for family members I recommended a chromebook. But every negative windows os comment gets downvoted so hard that it left me 0 points at the bottom.

Ask HN How do you protect your parents against tech scammers?

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21934736

My answer:

> Give them a chromebook. No virus scanner or firewall needed. It's 2020 and the "Personal Computer" paradigm is past its expiration date. Want to keep hobbying with Windows and manage your "PC" like a pet, good luck with that! Hardware should be managed like cattle with a cloud native setup if you ask me. Racehorse owners loose 90 cent on every dollar invested, cowboys fly helicopters.


There's a direct link at the "x days ago" timestamp:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21935330


I upgraded my mom to Windows 10 last year, with automatic updates, and she hasn't had any computer issues since then.

As a bonus, I don't have to worry about whether Google's ambivalence will eventually make the computer useless.


> lets me treat my laptops like cattle rather than pets. If you lose your device, just grab another one. All your stuff is up in the cloud. Strange bug? just power wash the machine and start over.

This is my argument for

- Nix or Guix as my main package manager

- having daily backups--encrypted and stored off-site

I don't want to rent my right to use a computer.


> At my company, all the software that we use is web-based (SaaS), with the exception of software engineers, who are using local tools to develop web based applications.

And interestingly, Google has a clear "complementary solution" to ChromeOS for software-engineering use cases: Google Cloud Shell (https://cloud.google.com/shell/docs/), which gives you a "personal POSIX environment as web-app."

I feel like ChromeOS and GCP have an obvious idiomatic relationship to them, sort of like Windows and Azure do.


I feel if google had brought android to desktop, with terminal and all, it would be a good developer experience and also nice for normal user. There's sandboxing, it requires less and less maintenance than other OSes and UI is quite intuitive. Plus all the google integration.

Sure some of people here do not like google integration. But in a practical world, it solves many problems to normal people.

And android the OS is really better than what people seem to think.


"All your stuff is up in the cloud."

What happens if the knowledge worker loses their connection to the "cloud".


As in a temporary loss? It's been a while since I've used this, but I believe some of those services support an "Offline Mode". Not perfect, but it's something.


If I had no internet connection at my job at a tech startup I could literally do nothing.


ChromeOS has offline support for docs editing. Everywhere, even airplanes, have reliable wifi these days. Connections to the cloud are only becoming more reliable. Your take is FUD and old.


Is Google Drive faster in Chromebooks? The web version makes me want to rip my hair out.


I often see price being cited as a selling point for Chromebooks, but I have never found them to be really cheap. Maybe it's a regional thing? Looking now on Amazon (.it) I can find a Pixelbook equipped with a measle i5-7Y57, 8 GB of ram and 256 GB SSD for 1999 €. That's crazy.

For that kind of money I could get a 10th gen i7 (where applicable) 16 GB ram/512 GB SSD Surface Laptop 3, Surface Pro 7 or Surface Pro X (including type cover and pen for the Pros) with money to spare.

How is this considered cheap? It's insane


> I often see price being cited as a selling point for Chromebooks, but I have never found them to be really cheap.

Around 2014, cheap ($200) chromebooks seemed impressive compared to low end windows laptops (which didn't have SSDs, enough ram for windows, or good battery life).

After that, the cheap chromebooks completely stagnated, though (in 5 years they have only gone to slightly faster celeron processors and 4 rather than 2 gigs of ram) while cheap windows laptops have gotten much better, and as you have mentioned, the expensive chromebooks certainly aren't competitive, either. I think that somehow the idea that chromebooks are cheap seems to have remained despite the fact that it isn't true anymore.


I agree.

I recently (6-9 months ago perhaps) got a cheap one - I think it was about 150GBP new. So very cheap, but its CPU is some celeron thing that frankly sucks for modern websites with their heavy javascript payloads. If you tried to open gmail + google calendar + a google doc, it slowed down to an absolute crawl - like 5-10 wall-seconds to change tabs, things visibly redrawing on the screen etc and things slowly loaded in. It becomes incredibly frustrating to do anything web-based except perhaps read one single tab at a time - forget anything interactive. (That said, my wife has one that also has a celeron that she uses almost exclusively for netflix and it seems fine for that)

I think that the cheap celerons that the cheapest chromebooks get just are not good enough - I've had chromebooks for years and years ago those chromebooks with weak CPUs (sometimes obscure ARM ones even) were totally fine and would zip along without issues, but now the weakest celerons just do not seem to be able handle modern web UIs.

So that puts us in the sad situation where if you want to buy a chromebook, you need to consider one with a non-celeron CPU, but those then tend to be really expensive in comparison (e.g. double or triple the price of a celeron one), at which point you might as well just buy a windows one (or even a macbook air or something similar for not much more).

It is a shame - I don't know the bulk trade prices, but I am guessing that the difference between the weakest possible celeron and something less-crap like a base pentium thing is probably only like $10-15, but would make a huge difference to usability, but you just don't seem to be able to buy anything without jumping up to Intel i5s for an extra £500 etc


That's probably more directed towards the sub-$300 market, which has at least a handful of options. I've got my wife, kids, and parents all on these devices because they're cheap and easy to use.

I'd prefer spending $300 on something like a refurbished Thinkpad for myself, but realize that might not serve my family's desires.


Used business workstation desktops are a friggin' steal right now, if you don't need the portability. Like if you want to do the old-school shared "family computer" situation. Or just want one really powerful machine for your home server junk, rather than a stack of (way more expensive for similar total memory & performance) Raspberry Pis.


Yep, I can see some Acer, Lenovo or HP options in that range, but all of them are equipped with Celeron N4xxx CPUs, 4 GB of ram and 64 GB eMMC, not exactly stellar...

I would consider a 500-600€ device with a decent screen, 8 GB and a (swappable?) disk to try ChromeOS out, I feel I'd be wasting money if I were to get a sub-300 one


So... you want a high end laptop? Those are available, even with ChromeOS installed. But they're not any cheaper. Hardware is hardware.

When people talk about price being an advantage for Chromebooks, they mean at the low end, where the OS can operate well on hardware that Windows doesn't tolerate, and where the windows license fees become a significant part of the selling price.

Try a comparison of devices around $300US, that's the sweet spot for ChromeOS.


The most demanding application on my laptop, by a wide margin, is Chrome.

The only thing close is Windows Search Indexer, which is a buggy piece of junk that spins CPU all day doing nothing


A typical windows laptop has a DRAM footprint (mostly because of the AV scanners that everything has installed) rather higher than a ChromeOS box, even with the browser running. And the storage requirements aren't even in the same ballpark: something like 40GB for a routine OEM windows install vs. 6-7G for the ChromeOS boot image (last time I checked, anyway). Add to that the fact that most of the chrome apps are optimized to store to the cloud instead of relying on local disk, and the chrome box can skimp on memory and storage (e.g. a $8 64G eMMC chip instead of a $60 256G SATA or M.2 drive) in ways that windows can't.

is 500€ (tax included) considered high end? The first result searching for "laptop" with a 8 GB ram filter on Amazon.it is an HP 14s, with an i5-8250U, 8 GB of ram and a 256 GB ssd priced at 599€. The third result is the same but with an AMD A9, for half the price (349€).

I would buy any of them with ChromeOS at that price (I'm interested from a developer point of view, especially for the Android subsystem)

That's leaps over any Chromebook I can find, and those are real laptops that can do any workflow.


> is 500€ (tax included) considered high end?

These days it's upper middle for the U.S. I would say. For example the new top-of-the-line Dell consumer laptop, the XPS 13, starts at under $1000 (900€). When I got an XPS nearly a decade ago, it was a model they had at a considerable discount (as I recall it was an overstock situation or something) and it still cost me $1350.

As far as I can tell, low-end, mid-end, and high-end laptops are not only more powerful than the laptops of 10 years ago, they're also considerably cheaper at each level. I can't say for ultra-high-end laptops, I'm sure you still can spend $2500 on a laptop if you want, but even the MacBook Pro starts at only $1300 these days.


it's confusing when you write that XPS 13 starts at $1000 (900€), because in USA you're used to write prices without tax and in Europe we're used to write prices including Tax, which you have to pay when you're buying it as a consumer, at the time of purchase.

So let's look at the actual prices: In the US XPS 13 9380 starts at i7, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD for $949 listed price. In Europe the same configuration starts at around 1200€, but they are also lower configurations (i3, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD) priced at €949, just so that they can list a lower "starting" price, even though that configuration is almost unusable.


I'd consider 500€ the starting point for something that won't break down in an year here, upper middle would be around 700-800€. Keep in mind € prices most of the time include taxes (22% in my case), so...


That is what I paid for an Asus Netbook 1215B, delivered with Ubuntu LTS.


Right, and for basically the same reason. Fundamentally ChromeOS is just another linux distro.


Except that Linux userspace is not exposed across all variants, and updates are limited to 5 years from model launch.


Intel's mobile chip prices are insane. The current "recommended customer price" for i5-7Y57 is $280. The i7-7Y75 processor price is $395 (only difference is a couple hundred MHz).

Compare the Macbook Air and the pricing isn't too bad. The air has 1 gen newer CPU (basically a refresh) and thunderbolt 3 instead of usb-c along with an extra inch of screen (pixelbook could add almost 1.5 inches if they shrunk the bezels).

With 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD, the list price of the two is the same ($1700 in the USA). Pixelbook also gives you a touchscreen (with good pen support), better keyboard, and (IMO) better trackpad while shaving off a massive third of a pound. Pixelbook is also completely silent.

Surface Pro X with 16gb RAM and 512gb SSD is $1800 and weighs almost exactly the same as the pixelbook once you add a keyboard. It includes a crappy Qualcomm 8cx processor.

Surface pro 7 with same specs is $1900 and around the same weight. It does include a G-series processor, but it's probably adjusted from the normal 15w TDP to a 12w TDP to save power (lowering actual base clock from 1.3 to 1.0GHz).

Cheapest Surface Laptop 3 with same specs I can find is Best Buy for $2000 for the 13-inch model. It weighs a touch more than the air, but once again, the G-series processor is a bit faster overall.

Pixelbook isn't cheap, but neither is the hardware or build quality. You can often find them on sale for much less though. $500-600 for the i3 version is very common. I picked up my i5 version on sale for $650 (marked down from $1300).


I checked the prices for the Surfaces on the official store before posting, the most expensive one was the Pro X + cover + pen at 1998,99 € (others were in the 1930-1960 range).

But my point was the same as yours: same price, better hardware, good screens + build quality and a capable OS instead of a full screen browser and mobile apps


I knew what I was getting into with my Pixelbook when I bought one in 2015, they are a lot more than every other Chromebook. But I thought it would be fun, and the $900 was less than I'd spend on some of my other devices.

All I would say is that thing still still runs and looks like it did the day I bought it. It's a solid device that runs everything through the usb-c port (which was still new back then). The specs are overboard for what a Chromebook needs. But like most things, I guess it just comes down to what you use it for.

Now that it has a built-in Linux support, I could do things that might push it. I was surprised when it got Crostini support, you run the Linux apps inside the Chrome OS and not some buggy sandbox.


Linux apps run inside a sandbox, as shown at Google IO 2019.


Yeah, I guess I used sandbox incorrectly, the apps are still running in a sandbox. What I meant was before Crostini, you had to load xfce in a shell or dual boot into it. Now the Linux apps run inside the Chrome OS. You also don't have to boot into a developer mode, or anything like that.


You won't see much difference with high-end hardware because the OS license is a smaller percentage of the total.

The big price differences are on low end hardware where the greater resource requirements of Windows make it uncompetitive.

I use a Chromebook as my daily driver, and I'm happy to spend on good hardware. For my needs, Chrome OS is far superior to Windows and Mac. Hard to beat the security, Linux integration and battery life.


That’s a pixelbook, the MacBook Pro of chromebooks. Like others have said, you can get a new chrome book for <$150.


For me the selling point of Chromebooks is that it's a stateless computer, so not much can go wrong.

Also updates are really smooth: done in the background, just have to do a quick reboot and you're done.

Since I migrated my mother to a Chromebook, she no longer breaks anything and I no longer have to do tech support.


You know, all those same things are true of a lightweight XFCE or Mate Linux desktop. They've been true for over a decade now.

Incidentally, I put Xubuntu on my grandma's computer for a few years.


How is Xubuntu in any way stateless? It has a full local filesystem with a package manager and everything, lots of ways it can be messed up, no?


It's stateless the same way Chrome OS is: you put a systemd-timer on sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade, and you only use the web browser and libreoffice.

ChromeOS also has a package manager and a full local filesystem, you just don't see it. Don't touch it on and XFCE debian derivative and it's the exact same.


> For me the selling point of Chromebooks is that it's a stateless computer, so not much can go wrong.

Do you really think that's the case?

> Also updates are really smooth: done in the background, just have to do a quick reboot and you're done.

How are there updates if it's stateless?


State here is about user data / apps.

All your data and applications are on the cloud. So if you loose or break your Chromebook, just buy a new one, and all your work is already there.


If you look at the high end, you'll find premium devices for premium prices.

If you look at the low end, you'll find devices starting from ~$200.


Last month, I bought a Chromebook (new in box) for $100 through Amazon. Granted, it just got its final update, so it was sitting on some warehose shelf for years. I'll use it until the OS crumps, then wipe it and put Debian on it. Just like I used to do with cheap Windows netbooks.


I'm using ChromeOS on Macbook Pro Retina 2015 and on Thinkpad x230 as a spare for just everything.

Thinkpad x230 is 10 years old and it's current market price is below $100, I think. Or you can get it for free from a friendly company admin. Except for screen estate (compared to Retina) x230 is everything I need. It still has in it another 5 more years or so.

So ChromeOS could be cheap and performant at the same time. Chromebooks are different story - never found one with price to performance/quality ratio that suits my wallet.

PS. I disagree that ChromeOS has stalled out. Can't wait till February for version 80.


How does it run on the x230? With which specs? Android and Linux subsystems are working?


Android isn't working on Neverware. Linux (crostini containers) and crosh both work.

x230 is some old i5, 100GB SSD and some RAM. Battery is still OK and getting replacement battery for Thinkpad is no hassle.

It works all right and the keyboard is a dream.


Damn, the Android side is the thing I'm interested the most (for dev purposes, not as an user)



Thanks.

Looks like my old MacBook Air (model 6,2) is not supported, but its 11" variant (6,1) is. I'll give it a try when I return home from the holidays.


Don't worry about supported by Neverware. Mine Mac Pro also isn't supported last time I checked. But it works flawlessly.


I just found it curious that they would officially support the 11" and not the 13"


That just means that Neverware tested CloudReady on 11" but not 13". Similarly, the Mac Pro isn't officially supported because Neverware decided, quite rightly, that few people are going to run Chrome OS on a high-end Apple desktop.

The Pixelbook is/was a Chromebook with top of the line hardware. (IMO the best convertible notebook) and never was sold with cheap price in mind.

I bought my i5/8g/128g variant for <$700 USD.

You can definitely find a Chromebook for ~$200 USD.


I've seen some models in the $200-400 USD range, occasionally they have a sale, but their specs are pretty awful, even by smartphone standards. I don't think I've seen a pixelbook priced at 1999 €, I wonder if that's higher due to cost of tax/tariff/import?


I can see the seller is from the UK, according to hocuspocus it's one of the countries where it's officially sold. I'd expect some markup from them, maybe higher shipping fees, but since it's still within the EU there shouldn't be anything else. I forgot to mention that in Italy prices already include taxes, so 1999€ is exactly how much I would pay.


I’ve seen Pixel phones sold on Amazon UK and shipped to EU countries where Google doesn’t officially sell them at almost 2x markup.


Meh. Nah.

Chromebook growth has been phenomenal, full stop. There is still plenty of headroom, because the price point continues to beat phones and laptop competitors. Note also the growing success of premium Chromebooks. Classic bottom-up innovation/disruption story.

In terms of making use of the hardware, Android is a necessary stopgap strategy, but webassembly is coming to bring native app performance and security to the web platform.

That's not to say Google is marching from strength to strength. Their product management discipline is poor to non-existent, and from the outside there seems to be a fundamental monetization tension between ads and subscriptions, when the same human flips between being product and/or customer, particularly for the kid/ed sector.


Yup, chromebooks are huge in K12, and there really isn’t any promising alternative. Even students at schools without chromebooks often buy them independently because of their low price. These things are a massive success, even if not in the way that google wants just yet.


>> Chromebook growth has been phenomenal, full stop. There is still plenty of headroom, because the price point continues to beat phones and laptop competitors. Note also the growing success of premium Chromebooks. Classic bottom-up innovation/disruption story.

I completely agree. Both my mother-in-law and cousins (that are college age) have switched to chromebooks because of the price point to accomplish what are basic needs for most laptop users.


The counterpoint to this argument is that there are many users who want a super-lightweight OS that is not bloated, but very high performance with long batter life. I use my Samsung Chromebook 3 for gsuite, gcloud management through the web console, linux (beta) shell based development, gcloud cloud shell, putty type chrome terminal and fairly hardcore web app testing (webgl 2.0 compute, magenta, tensorflowjs). It works phenomenally well. And I've definitely noticed a lot of Google employees using the Pixelbook as their work laptop.

Looking ahead and making predictions for ChomreOS in the 2020s. I could even see a Stadia style pipeline for more processor intensive apps. Run Creative Cloud / Maya type tools on dedicated cloud gpus. And just send the video frames to the client browser tab. I've been thinking a lot about how 5G adoption really can be leveraged to offload computation from the device and will introduce whole new classes of interactive media.


>super-lightweight OS that is not bloated

That's my problem with Chrome OS. It's super bloated. It's like three operating systems in one with containers acting as duct tape.

I liked the original idea of Chrome OS. But that idea hasn't worked out or perhaps it was just abandoned too soon.


I've been using a pixelbook as my mobile dev platform (mostly web and server dev) ever since my 2015 macbook (15 inch) died. Overall, the experience as a developer has been quite good. The hardware is second to none. The trackpad is (IMHO) better than the one on my macbook, the keyboard is way better than Apple's recent keyboards, and having a touchscreen has been very nice for mobile testing. Passive cooling is a mixed bag. I like being completely silent and solid-state, but running a complete test suite takes a really long time because it must downclock (running the tests for my current files isn't bad though). The 3:2 aspect ratio also gives a ton of extra height over a lot of other systems.

The ChromeOS UI has been 2 steps forward and 1 step back. In preparation for their tablet launch, they re-worked the launcher. This was mostly fine, but they made the poor choice to merge settings and notifications to be like Android. They used to sit side-by-side and viewing lots of notifications was much easier. It used to be really buggy too, but now it's mostly just a worse experience for no good reason.

On the other hand, they finally added workspaces that are pretty similar to macOS. They work great and my only complaint is that they haven't made a gesture to switch between them yet (just a keyboard shortcut or expose then select).

When I switched, you had to put the machine into dev mode and run Crouton. This made everything work more-or-less like a normal Linux machine, but made for annoying startups (make a mistake and your machine will wipe and reset) while also getting rid of the security the OS provides.

Crostini has been an amazing advancement and they're making very fast progress. Support for VPNs was my primary issue, but that's been fixed for months. Sharing between the main OS and Crostini used to be a bit painful, but that's easy now too. GPU acceleration can now be enabled and works decently most of the time opening the way for most Debian apps. Tabs for the terminal would be nice, but I usually use tmux anyway. My only particularly annoying issue is UI scaling of Linux apps, but that's not entirely their fault. On the high-dpi screen, things can look really small because most apps aren't optimized. The really annoying issue for me at the moment is third-party APKs in Android. They simply do not allow them unless you want to go back into dev mode. If that isn't something you do, I guess that's not an issue at all.

I'm currently hoping for a pixelbook 2 which simply adds another inch of screen and shrinks the bezels a bit. Other than that and maybe adding thunderbolt, there's not much I'd want to change.


People are already doing this. Untold Studios in London are running (almost) all their workstations in AWS and the desktops are just Intel NUCs running Teradici.

It makes sense when all your assets are also stored in the cloud.

Not sure the economics are there for everyone yet, as cloud storage requirements for digital content creation can get very expensive very quickly.


I mean, people have been doing that sort of thing forever. It comes in and out of fashion every few years.


I really wanted to buy my mom a Pixelbook (and then the Go), but it's literally sold in three countries: US, Canada, UK.

Pretty much like the Pixel phones that still ignore a few major markets after all these years. What should I feel about a company that doesn't even try to sell its hardware seriously?

Meanwhile, any 2nd tier Chinese OEM will manage to have its products sold at the electronics shop down the road.


I bought a pixelbook last year as I was excited to play with the early native Linux integration. The technology that has been built is an amazing amount of work (crosvm, Wayland support, etc) but at the end of the day it's really only useful for simple use cases. This is a common theme for everything in ChromeOS.

I've given up on ChromeOS for the time being as been capable of any serious work I do. The more frustrating part is my kids have Chromebooks and as they've gotten older they've become a real detriment. They can't accomplish anything on them beyond school work. My kids are showing a lot of interest in graphic design and programming and both tasks are too hard or almost impossible on a Chromebook.


Try Codesandbox and Figma (both run in the browser) with your kids. Figma is really underrated as a general graphic design tool, the pen tool for vector shapes is top notch, and you can use blend modes for images. Google fonts are already integrated, it can be used to learn e.g. logo design.


Hmm how hard did you try? If you turn on the linux integration you can install a lot of things. If you turn on the Android integration you can install a lot of things. If you need a mac or windows machines...well no luck there.

To me, the biggest drawback is most Chromebooks (not even the pixels) don't have a good GPU not that you can't get things to run.


What are you trying to do? I have VS code installed and regularly develop in js, python and go on my Pixelbook.


Slightly OT, but is getting your kids a traditional Linux laptop an option?


Since 2013 the main computer I used was the Acer C720. i3, 4 gig of RAM chromebook. Never had an issue with it. Runs as fast now as it did then.

It quit receiving updates in June of 2019.

Never understood the thought process behind this as supporting the machine is probably negligible given the platform.

I looked at other chromebook solutions, but unless I wanted to spend close to $1000 there was nothing close performance wise. There are ways of getting chromeos on the machines left behind, but it didn't interest me.

Decided to move on to a refurbished Windows 10 pro dell laptop. I do miss the safety I felt with the chromebook.


The Acer C720 used a 3.8 Linux kernel, as documented at [1]. Updating to a new kernel would have required a full QA of the hardware to make sure that the device drivers in a newer kernel still worked correctly with that hardware.

[1] https://www.chromium.org/chromium-os/developer-information-f...

Support costs aren't too bad so long as you don't have to update the kernel and requal everything. But newer userspace starts to use kernel features to provide better functionality and better security (consider the massive vulnerabilities associated with Spectre and Meltdown, and obviously none of the remediations would have been in the 3.8 kernels). So you have to consider the costs of doing a requal of all of the hardware platforms using a 3.8 kernel to something newer, versus the costs of continuing to backport security fixes to older kernels, and the costs of testing the userspace components against older kernel, and providing workarounds for the lack of features in newer kernels.

A six year support lifetime is a long time; and Windows 10 has also stopped supporting older laptops on newer releases, so you will also see Microsoft not providing updates to older hardware[2][3].

[2] https://helpcenter.steinberg.de/hc/en-us/articles/3600086427...

[3] https://www.cio.com/article/2972791/why-you-should-be-very-w...


The Asus laptop I got in 2009 with Windows 7, has gone through all Windows updates, is now using the very latest Windows 10 version.


And it's great if that works. If it doesn't, you have no recourse, even if the device is only just over 2 years old (or whatever your country's mandated warranty period is).

As happened for my HP laptop whose firmware put the GPU in some high performance state, expecting the Windows driver to clock down as appropriate.

Sadly, Windows upgrades (7->8, 8->10, all the 6month updates to 10 except for the October 2019 one) are "full installs" that run in what is essentially Windows' "safe boot" mode with stock drivers, so there was no clock down.

The result was that I could only update the laptop outdoors in winter when it was freezing, otherwise the laptop powered off mid-upgrade because it ran too hot (which then leads to the upgrade being rolled back, repeat ad nauseum).

Compared to that, the 5-8 years of Chrome OS support cover a really long time (the upgrade path and new OS version are actually tested on the very model I'm running), but it's a trade-off: If you're lucky about the configuration and what newer Windows versions expect, a Windows laptop can be usable for 15 years, but there's definitely luck involved (even though I guess Microsoft is also doing some rather arcane testing on their own, but things slip through and they certainly don't provide any guarantees for what's essentially third-party hardware).


That is equal parts mortifying and impressive that you diagnosed the root cause and were able to work around it.

I thought windows update failing because an unsupported, never-installed unrelated installer for Netware was in some custom-named obscure backup directory buried 4 levels deep was impressive.


>The Acer C720 used a 3.8 Linux kernel, as documented at [1]. Updating to a new kernel would have required a full QA of the hardware to make sure that the device drivers in a newer kernel still worked correctly with that hardware.

Thanks for taking the time to explain.


It would be nice if there was an unsupported (but still Google-distributed) "community" channel you could switch to on old hardware. Like how you can change to beta or developer channels if you want to test the new versions. This would be something that prosumers could use, if not the mass public. I feel like having the hardware simply "expire" when it is still functional probably results in a lot of e-waste.

You can install something like Gallium if you have the patience, time, and skill, but not everybody does.


That is exactly what I do not like about systems such a Chrome OS and Windows. I want the choice about upgrading the kernel. The Linux kernel is quite good about not breaking user-space applications.

I have an Acer C720 that have been running Linux for 5 years. Now it has Debian with a 5.4.0 kernel and it works just fine.

In the beginning it was running Ubuntu which also worked fine. I got it because the SSD died a year ago, but I run Linux from an SD-card.


I had an Acer c270. Probably the best laptop I will ever buy. Also went out of update but I sold it right before then. My biggest pet peeve was that it would not receive android play store.

Now I have a Dell chromebook with android. And it sucks. Incredibly slow. Even on guest mode. And it is new. And recent.


8th gen i3 chrome book for $450. Stunning how many people hold incorrect beliefs on pricing for chrome books. 2013 was probably 4th gen, so you get a massive upgrade. 69 seconds of googling found this -

https://www.bestbuy.com/site/hp-2-in-1-14-touch-screen-chrom...


Still using mine, and it's the lower specs Celeron I bought used for 100€. Lightweight, small and with a great battery life. Bad screen. I used to carry it around everywhere cause it's cheap and secure enough but as a longtime Linux user I got quite frustrated by the platform limitations. It's now running Debian with no particular issues and I'm fine with that.


I bought one for something like $149 at Walmart the first few months they came out.

Immediately installed Linux, it ran great. I could see myself still using it to this day.


I personally like the Chromebook, but it's relegated to fun, not work. It worked well to help me establish a boundary b/t work and home life, as I'd have to pull out my MacBook to do any actual work. I played around with Crostini Linux, but I've had it die on me twice and been forced to do a clean install of Crostini, which would be awful had I used it for anything important.

The Chromebook is also a great way to get out of supporting friends and family with technical issues. It's an affordable device and my tech support has been limited to getting it setup with the printer. (Though cloud printing is being killed later this year IIRC.)


You must be doing something wrong if reinstalling your OS causes you to lose anything important. For starters it helps making your /home directory a separate partition.


Does Crostini play nice with a separate /home ?


The utility of ChromeOS for me is that it enabled the creation of cheap Linux laptops. For $300 plus a 128GB A2-rated SD card, I can boot GalliumOS from the SD card and have a nicely functional Linux development machine with all my important stuff backed up to Dropbox and/or Github. If the laptop gets stolen I don't much care; I just buy another one and reinstall and I haven't lost any data. (I don't use Google's builtin Linux because it's too limited--you cannot boot it from an SD card.)


This is why i think a OS like Chrome is designed exactly to be this sort of trap. A cloud computing trap, where we are perfectly ok with alienating our digital life/data to third-parties without understanding the depth of the problem we are getting into.

The ones who control our digital properties, can control the world (information is power, remember?). They might not, but they can, and also can aid third parties with shady intentions (see all the Facebook fiasco). By the way, we should have learned this lesson already.

Also, people often forget how groundbreaking was to have a compiler (GCC) directly embedded with the OS because you could mess with the source and compile it yourself. Its very liberating to have a platform where you can code and modify it.

So i think a future where the likes of Chrome OS took over the world, is pretty scary as we ended turning our powerful and liberating computers into a sort of "interactive TV".

As i understand it, they will try to make it very easy for us to buy into this platform utopia, the problem is, in my point of view, that in the long term this will lead to some sort of digital feudalism. Lets not forget we are "digitalizing" our lives day-by-day, til the day there are very few useful things we do in the physical world.

So in the future if Google for instance want to ban your account, this could have severe problems, as a side-effect of your digital ostracism. (access to capital, bank, employment, etc..)


I see your point with regard to ChromeOS, but my post made it clear that I was using Linux, not ChromeOS. My use of my Chromebook is not dependent on Google at all, except for the fact that Google made the hardware exist. I'm dependent on github and Dropbox but I trust both more than I trust Google, and I could easily switch them both to servers I manage.


Just to make it clear that im not blaming you, just that your post reminded me of the exact trap things like ChromeOS are.

They are platforms that put Google strategic plans first and the user in the background.

If they teach (and phones are teaching this) that is ok/normal to have everything in the cloud and not stored locally, we are doomed in the long term if we dont fight this trend.

You are a tech-savy person that can use Gallium instead, but you are a minority and the normal person who bought a Chromium OS wont understand why you got into the trouble in the first place.

If we forget and ditch the culture that came with GNU/Linux, personal computers will be akins to TV's and big tech corps will have absolute control over our lives.

Anyway, your post just reminded me about this trend. Not saying that you are directly involved in it, just to make it clear, but is a possible scary outcome if this thing get out of control.


Maybe Google had high hopes at turning Chrome OS into Android for desktop but, as the article points out, it failed miserably.

At my last job in ed tech we developed and maintained a Chrome OS app for about 3 years. Not an Android app, but a web app for Chrome OS.

I had great hopes for the platform for education use but it turned out developing for Chrome OS was a terrible mess. Docs are incomplete and cryptic, there are strange dev restrictions like not being able to use localStore, erratic behaviors of the apps, nowhere to go for help, the chrome web store dashboard was totally obsolete by today's standards, etc.

It felt very bizarre seeing Google doing all the marketing on their new flashy Chrome OS devices, Android apps, and Linux support, while at the same time looking at the docs and working on what seemed like an abandoned project.

I think ultimately Google will replace Chrome OS with Fuchsia. Maybe Fuchsia took longer than expected so they had to improvise and bring Android and Linux to keep the platform alive for a couple more years.


Dumb question:

> constant crashes, an insanely slow single-core Intel Atom processor, and questionable build quality would make it clear to anyone that it was very much a product built for dogfooding, not as a replacement for your Windows or Mac notebook

This use of "dogfooding" confuses me, wouldn't the chromebook being used for dogfooding mean it was meant as a replacement for your windows/mac notebook? Or if not, how does it relate to whether the chrombook was meant to replace windows/mac notebooks?


I think they mean it wasn't ready as a product to be sold to the public.


Seems like the author doesn't really know the meaning of that term (or well, is using that term not in the way you and I understand it). That word is even linked to the Wikipedia page, but it says:

> This can be a way for an organization to test its products in real-world usage. Hence dogfooding can act as quality control,

It smells like the author wanted to use a fancier term for "beta-testing".


He also doesn't seem to know quite what "delusional" means. He uses it to describe people that don't agree with him.


The build quality of the Cr48 was pretty decent, especially for a machine they were giving away. The only part on mine that really failed was the display hinge, after I dropped it. The keyboard is pretty decent.

The atom processor and the 2GB max of ram is what really was the problem with it.

All that said, they supported the Cr48 for a long time after it was sent to people, especially considering it was basically public beta test hardware.


I think he meant that it was a replacement for windows/mac but only in enterprise settings with very limited requirements.

To be honest, I’ve never seen “dogfooding” used in such negative terms, but this seems the most likely explanation.


Atom processor might not be a restriction out of choice but out of limitations.

Building a x86 laptop, sourcing processors from Intel is actually much harder than you’d expect if you’re new to the game and doing smaller runs.


That paragraph refers to the Cr-48 pilot device. Dogfooding seems to be an apt description of what it was for.

(Disclosure: I work on Chrome OS firmware, but started later, so I never saw one of the Cr-48s)


Perhaps he meant it's table scraps?



What the above commenters are getting at is the way the sentence is phrased, it seems to be implying something different from traditional "dogfooding".

Something like table scraps does seem more appropriate in that sentence to me. Unless there is some context that I am just not picking up on.


Dunno, I can only hazard thinking ‘intentionally underpowered to force our developers to think more ‘


> In 2019, a public space, restaurant, or even a shopping center without free Wi-Fi is basically unconscionable.

The author isn't familiar with Berlin's cafes and restaurants ;)


I too have been to popular coffee shops without WiFi. You wouldn't have known just by looking. Everyone was tethering.

Lumping restaurants in there seems a bit bizarre unless he's just talking about SV.


Google sent me free Chromebook(Acer 11 N7) ~2 years back, with a request that I speak to their GCP rep; I sent the rep my latest AWS bill with complete break down and asked them to mail me back with equivalent GCP services with price; I never heard back.

Well that's about GCP marketing team, as for Chromebook -

1. The power brick broke down with single night plugged into power, that seems to be a problem with that particular model of power brick and the one Acer replaced with doesn't have any problem for ~ 2 years.

2. This particular model is like a tough-book(kids?), I was very impressed with the quality of build for the price ($299).

3. Underpowered Atom CPU, but that meant being fan-less. Fan-less X86 means, I use it as SBC (which it technically is) and it's hard to get a x86 SBC with this spec for this price.

as for ChromeOS,

1. I am content with the premise of low end netbook with browser as the frontend (whether that should be Google Chrome is another discussion).

2. I am happy with the updates, first it was vanilla chromeOS, then I received Android App support, then I received notification that my Chromebook is EOL(it was fixed later), then I received Linux support.

3. Android apps compatibility became better but there are some fundamental issues as heavy threaded apps stall when moved out of focus (this may be due to hardware, someone with Chromebook Pixel should comment on this).

4. Good security architecture and regular security updates.

Conclusion: As a commercial replacement for MIT Labs OLPC, Chromebook is a clear winner; as for $1500 laptop I think the OP article makes sense.


It seems like to me I would be better off if chrome OS was actually part of Android. The experience of switching to a desktop could be as simple as plugging in your phone into a keyboard screen shell with a battery USB ports.

Why spend 800 bucks on your phone and laptop.

Third parties have tried to implement such systems with minimal success but I wonder what it would look like with Google backing it.


I see googlers in tech talks and at cafes only use MacBook Pros. If their own PC isn't good enough for them, why should anyone else fall for their marketing?

The day I buy a Chromebook is the day I read that Google only issues Chromebooks to their employees


The new Pixelbook Go only comes with a low resolution display, except for the most expensive model (see [1]). This is significant change for Google, since their previous Chromebooks had 4K-ish displays. This move from high end to low end reminds me of the Pixel 3a phone [2].

I loved the idea of Chromebooks, and hoped ChromeOS was a way that Linux would finally be "mainstream" on laptops. I've bought at least 10 Chromebooks since 2013, including all of the Google flagship models, since I use them as my main dev machine and at tradeshows. My next laptop is either going to be a Dell XPS 13 with Linux or (shudder) some random Windows 10 laptop.

[1] "1080p on a 13.3-inch display works out to 166 pixels per inch, a far cry from the 235 ppi on the first Pixelbook and the impressive 293 ppi on the Pixel Slate. Google does offer the Go with a 4K screen, but that option is only available if you get the top-of-the-line model, which costs an eye-popping $1,399." https://www.engadget.com/2019/10/25/google-pixelbook-go-revi...

[2] I won't ever buy another Google phone -- I bought a Pixel 3a and it completely broke by dropping it 3 feet with a screen protector and highly protective case, due to the very cheap display tech they used. I searched youtube for stress test videos about the 3a and could only find one where somebody's pixel 3a shattered after being dropped 1 foot; in comparison phones like iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S10plus have dozens of videos with high end equipment testing dropping under rigorous conditions.


What's interesting, especially with the Pixels, is that Google used to lead with the Nexus phones, which were notable in part because they were excellent phones at a very good price. My guess would be that the difference is that at some point Google decided that instead of making good developer phones (I don't think they ever really viewed the Nexus line as targeting the general public), they wanted to make their own premium consumer line.


I never had a Nexus phone, but I had Nexus tablets. They were great. I was shocked when I went to buy a new one and all I managed to find was a piece of shit Samsung tablet. That was a pretty defining moment for me when I realized Google had substantial structural and a management issues beyond the standard public controversies. Chrome OS users should not expect a bright future, no matter how great things are at the moment.


>> [2] I won't ever buy another Google phone -- I bought a Pixel 3a and it completely broke by dropping it 3 feet with a screen protector and highly protective case, due to the very cheap display tech they used.

I've got a 3a and haven't experienced this. My kid has dropped my phone everywhere (from the cart at the grocery, from his high chair, his car seat, etc.) - note the phone isn't playing anything, he just likes to hold it and pretend he's talking to 'oma' or 'gigi' - and I just have a cheap rubber cover. To each their own though.


I have a 3A as well (I got as soon as it went on sale to replace my Pixel 1) and I'm embarrassed to admit that I drop it all the time but nothing has broken so far.


I'm really glad your phones haven't broken, and hope that mine was a QA issue. Incidentally, here's the video I mentioned: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGA_NNR3kDs


This would correspond with the rumors that Google is quietly pulling engineering resources from Android and ChromeOS to work on Fuchsia which is supposed to replace both and be the Google IoT operating system of the future. It's rather open that Pixelbooks support the current builds of Fuchsia; what's less published but not hidden if you ask the Nest engineers that the Google Home runs on Fuchsia with its apps written in Flutter. Fuchsia's browser is Chrome and has an Android compatibility layer which allows running Android apps on Fuchsia (how long they keep that in is another question).


I've used Chromebooks for 8 years now. Anecdotally what I've noticed is that the sheer amount of bugs has increased dramatically after they started implementing the ability to use Android apps. Right around that time it seemed like Google went from trying to make the best browser based operating system to something else. With new updates things seem to spontaneously break and the amount of effort that went into tracking down bugs diminished.

I'm using a MBP now, instead, partly due to the quality issues and partly because Google's privacy stance has made me more uncomfortable as time goes on.


I was a Google evangelist until the penny finally dropped and I saw that their business model was a disease. Chrome OS is cool, as are many of Alphabet's products past and future. But I no longer use any Google products or have a Google account, and actively take steps to prevent them having even passing access to any of my data.

I think there are good use cases for a cloud-based OS, and it's something I could be interested in using, even helping develop. But, like Android and Search, Chrome OS is just another harvester of personal information to feed Google's advertising profit machine.


Access to files is the critical issue here. Look at these examples from the article:

> Chrome OS doesn't have a robust photo editor? Don't worry, you can download an [Android] app! Chrome doesn't have native integration with cloud file services like Box, Dropbox, or OneDrive? Just download the app! Chrome doesn't have Microsoft Office? App!

The problem is that Chrome OS is attempting to be a desktop platform, using web apps and mobile apps.

Desktop OSes (Windows, macOS) are all about files. Apps are files. Your documents, photos, and videos are files. Any app can access any of your files.

On mobile, you don't normally interact with files. Apps aren't files; you launch apps directly from the app launcher, and they store data internally; when you delete an app, its data is deleted, too.

Web apps are like mobile apps: they don't have access to your files. You can't make a web app photo editor that opens a file, makes some changes, and then saves those changes to the file. Instead, you have to "upload" the file to the web app, and then you have to "download" the modified file.

Microsoft Office has a web version (Office 365), but it's like Google Docs, lacking access to your local files. Dropbox has a web app, but it just lets you download files one at a time; it's impossible to implement Dropbox-like file synchronization in a web app.

Google is aware of this problem, but you might not like their proposed "solution," to develop a cross-browser standard file access API. https://web.dev/native-file-system/ Google's currently running an "origin trial," where a small number of web sites have temporary access to the feature to try it out.

I think Google's not going to ship it until they convince Apple or Mozilla to approve; it's not clear when (or if) that will happen. Here's the most recent discussion from May. https://github.com/mozilla/standards-positions/issues/154

So file access isn't technically "stalled out," but it's still going to take a long, long time.


ChromeOS is also used for all docker instances on Google Cloud Platform (GCE)...so I doubt development is dead in the water.


This seems pretty crazy, can I get a source on this?



What Google product doesn't feel stalled? (Serious question)


I really like a stalled out OS. Really give me 20 year stability. Do not change interface and add eye candy every year just to sell new stuff. Just security updates.

Really hope there is RHEL (10+ year release) type ChromeOS.


Technically Chrome OS has some interesting bits, like its use of virtualization, containers, based on Rust and Go.

As general purpose OS, I never got the point of it.

Any OS other OS is able to offer browser juggling support alongside the benefits of having a proper OS, better hardware that a Web browser is capable of (does not matter how good is the GPU, Web GL 2.0 can only do so much).

And the security story is kind of meaningless when everything that matters is stored in someone else's computer, with the traffic going through Google's servers.


It's not targeting the general purpose OS market it's purpose built for specific kinds of customer use cases. Once you get past that it makes a lot of sense. Well not as in "it makes a lot of sense for you personally to go out and by" but it makes a lot of sense why it exists and sells so much.


That is the thing, it doesn't sell at all outside US School system, as the article points out.


Decently popular at SMB as well.

The point is it doesn't need to outsell Windows it just needs to have markets it targets and updates for those markets. That it doesn't have updates for markets it doesn't target is irrelevant unless they've maxed out all the markets they target (they haven't yet).


I got one for my mom and I'm very happy with how low maintenance it is.


Are you also happy that your mum's stuff lives on Google servers?

'Cause I steer my folks away from such stuff.


My Dad is in his 70s and lives the RV life now, usually from 3 time zones away. He's not going to run his own backup servers and I don't want to take 4am support calls. Google works fine for his use case.


> Are you also happy that your mum's stuff lives on Google servers?

Incredibly.


Yes


> And the security story is kind of meaningless when everything that matters is stored in someone else's computer, with the traffic going through Google's servers.

It all depends on your threat model. Some people don't mind Google knowing everything about them, and are happy to reap the benefits of making that tradeoff.


I don't know how I feel about ChromeOS's market position. I do know that Crostini is the best innovation in the laptop space from the last half decade.


I agree that ChromeOS needs some love. Recent updates have started to make my Pixelbook freeze and self reboot (while using Chrome only), Android support seems half baked still.

That said, I regularly use it over my MacBook and still is the best form factor laptop I've ever used.


I got the original Cr-48 Chromebook back in the day. That thing was phenomenal good at just-surf-the-web™️. If ChromeOS was really stalled out, I could use it as something else than a paperweight.


Long battery life, cheap, can write some code in Linux -> perfect travel device


My daughter's school just switched from iPads to Chromebooks.


Ah yes, Google. Now there is a company I can trust to build a product and not abandon it on the side of the road when they fail to put the effort in to make it successful.




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