Google’s Chrome OS is an alternative to operating systems like Windows and macOS. It is a great platform for a specific audience, which, like its competitors, has its pros and cons. If you are thinking about buying a Chromebook, the first thing you should do is find out exactly what Chrome OS is, how it differs from more traditional operating systems, and who it is suitable for. You will find answers to these and other questions in this article.
What is Chrome OS?
Chrome OS is an operating system developed and owned by Google. It is based on Linux and is open-source, which means it is free to use. The big advantage of Chrome OS is that it is straightforward to use. Even though it has a desktop similar to the one you get on a Windows computer, Chrome OS is essentially a web browser. Here you can watch videos, flip through Facebook and other social networks, and do whatever you do on a Windows PC or macOS.
Like Android smartphones, Chrome OS devices have access to the Google Play app store, though only those released in 2017 or later. This means that most of the applications you can download and run on your Android smartphone can also be used on Chrome OS. However, keep in mind that not all of these programs are optimized for the cloud operating system. Also, some newer Chromebooks can run Linux applications, further expanding the capabilities of Google’s operating system.
But Chrome OS’s simplicity has a serious flaw. The point is, unlike Windows and macOS devices, you cannot download and run AAA games or use desktop programs like Adobe Premiere Plus. You can only run those programs and games that are in the Play Store. And that’s why Chromebooks aren’t for everyone.
What’s the Difference Between Chrome OS and the Chrome Browser?
The Google Chrome browser lets you access the web and works pretty much on all platforms, including Windows, macOS, and Android. According to analysts StatCounter, Chrome OS is currently the most popular browser globally with a market share of 65%, overtaking competitors such as Firefox, Opera, Microsoft Edge, and Brave.
On the other hand, Chrome OS is the operating system that Chromebooks run on, just like Windows is installed on some laptops. It comes preinstalled with the Google Chrome browser that you can use to access the Internet. The OS is designed with simplicity in mind, so it doesn’t have many additional features beyond just launching the Chrome browser and browsing the web. However, Chrome OS has options such as launching Android apps and saving image files to local storage. And this is just a part of the capabilities of the cloud OS.
Because of its simplicity, some people call Chrome OS nothing more than a version of the Chrome browser. Yes, maybe many years ago, this was so, but now this statement is fundamentally wrong.
Who is Chrome OS for?
Chromebooks are designed to be simple and cheap, although there are some expensive models among them. If all you’re going to do with your laptop is surf the web and YouTube videos, play Android games, and use the same apps you use on your smartphone, then you should definitely consider a Chrome OS device.
However, if you are a more advanced user who wants to play popular PC games and use Photoshop, then a more traditional Windows or macOS computer is better for you. Keep in mind that while software such as Photoshop can be downloaded from Google Play and run on a Chromebook, it will be an Android version of the less powerful and functional application than the Windows version.
Advantages and disadvantages of Chrome OS
The above are just general guidelines. If you want to dive deeper into the topic, then check out the main advantages and disadvantages of Chrome OS, which will help you understand if a Chromebook is right for you or not.
- Simply. Chrome OS is all about simplicity. The operating system is so simple that even your grandmother can use it. Plus, it is fast and boots up in seconds.
- Cheap. Chrome OS is open source and completely free. It is designed for simple tasks such as browsing the web and running Android applications, without the need for high-performance hardware. For this reason, Chrome OS devices tend to be cheaper than their Windows and macOS counterparts, although there are a few more expensive models in the Chromebook range.
- Support for Android applications. As mentioned earlier, all Chromebooks released in the past few years support Android apps, making them much more useful than ever before.
- Linux application support. Google has added support for Linux apps in recent years. This means that it is now possible to run software at the desktop level on Chromebooks, given that they have enough power to run them.
- Safety. Because of its simplicity, Chrome OS is much safer than Windows laptops, especially since most of what you download to your Chromebook will be from the Play Store. Frequent automatic updates of Chrome OS and built-in virus protection are also available to users.
- Cloud version. Chrome OS is designed to be as cloud-based as possible. This means you have access to all of Google’s web services, including Google Docs for creating documents, Google Drive for storing files, and Google Photos for all your images. This means that you can access all of these files and documents on other Internet-connected devices, regardless of your location. You can also rest assured that if your Chromebook is lost, stolen, or broken, you won’t lose your files.
- Weight. Chrome OS devices usually don’t have large hard drives or other high-performance hardware, which means they’re lighter than most other laptops. And this makes them ideal for those who are often on the road.
- Autonomy. Since Chrome OS is a simple operating system and a Chromebook doesn’t consume a lot of power, battery life is excellent overall.
- Software compatibility. We already mentioned this, but I will mention it again, as this is the biggest disadvantage of devices on Chrome OS. You cannot use full versions of Photoshop, Microsoft Office, and many other programs on your Chromebook. That is, if an application is not available for Linux, then it will not be available on Chrome OS either. And if you install mobile versions of applications, then, most likely, you will lose many important functions.
- Not suitable for games. Yes, you can play games on your Chromebook, but your choices are limited to what’s available on Google Play. You will not be able to play AAA games on Chrome OS devices because they are not supported. But even if it were possible, you would still not be able to play many games, since Chromebooks cannot be called powerful devices from the outset. However, keep in mind that this is changing as cloud gaming becomes more popular and services such as Stadia enter the market.
- Little storage space. Since Chrome OS is cloud-based, the internal storage you get on a Chromebook will be less than that of a standard Windows laptop. Instead of 500GB, Chromebooks usually have 64GB of storage. But this is not such a big drawback as with cloud services you don’t need a lot of disk space.
- Work without the Internet. Chrome OS devices work best when they have access to the internet. Yes, you can use them offline, but you are unlikely to get a good experience from it. Some applications will not work at all without an internet connection, while other offline applications will have limited functionality.
Chrome OS devices
Chrome OS primarily runs on Chromebooks. There is a great choice of them, but mostly these are inexpensive models, but there are also those that can boast of top-end characteristics and corresponding price tags.
In addition to Chromebooks, Google’s cloud OS is also installed on tablets. These devices are even more portable, and you can also connect a keyboard to them if you need to write a long email or create a document. One of the best Chrome OS tablets is Google’s Pixel Slate, but it’s quite expensive. But there are also cheaper alternatives.
Answers to the most popular questions about Chrome OS
Can all Chrome OS devices run Android and Linux apps?
Not. Older Chromebooks released before 2017 do not work with Android apps. And if you want a Linux-enabled Chromebook, then you need an even newer model.
Do Windows and macOS computers outperform Chrome OS devices?
They can usually do more, but I wouldn’t call them better. They are just different. Each OS is designed for different users. And which one is better depends on personal desires and needs.
Can Chrome OS run Fortnite?
Although Fortnite is available on Google Play, you cannot download it to your Chromebook. The only way to install this game on your device is to download the unofficial version of the application, but even then, certain requirements must be met. Among other things, your Chromebook must have a 64-bit processor and at least 4GB of RAM.
How much does Chrome OS cost?
It is free as it is an open-source operating system. This means that, unlike Windows, manufacturers can use it for free, which is one of the reasons for the low cost of Chromebooks.
Can Chrome OS run Microsoft Office applications?
Yes, but only their mobile versions are available in the Play Store. They get the job done, but they don’t have the full functionality of the Windows versions. However, you can run the web versions of Microsoft Office applications in a browser.
Will Chrome OS replace Windows?
Unlikely. Because of its differences, Chrome OS is not a direct competitor to Windows. In some respects, Google’s OS is better, and in others, it is worse. Therefore, Chrome OS and Windows will have no problem coexisting in the market.
Does Chrome OS have multiplayer support?
Yes, there is. This means that each family member can create their own Chromebook profile.
Is Chrome OS a secure operating system?
Yes, Chrome OS is a very secure platform. You don’t have to worry about bugs and viruses as much as you do with Windows laptops.