5 reasons everyone will be using Chrome OS in 3 years

5 reasons everyone will be using Chrome OS in 3 years

Summary: The new Chromebooks and Chromeboxes may not have gotten much attention outside of tech circles, but Chrome OS will be everywhere...and soon.

TOPICS: Browser

Google's first round of Chromebooks met with mixed reviews and far greater adoption in schools where their easy management and fast boot times made them more popular than with consumers. Google and Samsung announced yesterday that next-generation Chromebooks were rolling out, along with a major release of Chrome OS and new devices call Chromeboxes. All in all, it was a big day for Chrome OS, and yet, as Larry Dignan pointed out, the pricing on Chrome OS devices remains too high for serious consumer or enterprise adoption.

Also read:

Google's Chromebox: A better business play? Can Motorola Mobility's Webtop bail out Google's Chromebook? Google exec discusses future for Google Apps, Chromebooks

However, in computer-land, three years is forever, and in that period of time, I expect that Chrome OS will be all over the enterprise, consumer spaces, schools, and SMBs. In fact, I expect that it will be ubiquitous in the way that Linux and Java are: we don't even know we're using them on our phones, in our TVs, in our DVRs...everywhere. Here's 5 reasons why.

1. It's going to be cheap

Yes, Larry's right. These devices are too expensive right now. But Moore's Law tells us that this will change. Fast. And Chrome OS doesn't need the latest hardware to run quite well, particularly now that it can take advantage of GPU acceleration. Sure, the original Atom-based Chromebooks were a bit pokey, but enhancements to the OS itself have taken big steps to address the issue. The latest generation of Chrome OS devices aren't exactly using quad-core beasts. They're leveraging commodity hardware, paving the way for serious price drops in the relatively near future.

Chrome OS is also being tested on ARM hardware and is unencumbered by much in the way of licensing since it's based on the open source Chromium OS project.

2. It's flexible

Have you used the Chrome Web Store? There's a lot of really useful software just a click away that runs right within the browser. Whether you are using Chrome OS or the Chrome web browser, the experience is the same and the developer ecosystem is pushing hard on the boundaries of what we thought was possible in terms of web applications. The variety of applications already available in the Web Store is impressive, to say the least, just a year and half after its launch.

If Netflix, Facebook, Angry Birds, and Autodesk applications can all run happily in Chrome OS, there won't be much to differentiate it from a full-blown desktop OS in the months and years to come. Or from an embedded OS. Or a mobile OS. It all depends on the applications OEMs choose to develop, surface, and install for users.

Go on...you know you want to read reasons 3-5 »

3. Because Chrome OS and Android will merge

As early as 2009, Sergey Brin predicted that Android and Chrome OS would likely draw closer to each other and then merge. The Chrome browser for Android is hinting that this is getting closer to reality, as are various bits of information emerging about Android 5, most of which point to at least the beginnings of unification.

Android is already dominant in mobile devices and runs on everything from televisions to refrigerators to tablets. Chrome has the largest browser marketshare now. When Chrome, Chrome OS, and Android all start looking very much like each other and all dominate their respective markets, it's not a big stretch to start calling Chrome OS ubiquitous.

4. It's Google

If Google has proved anything, it's that they have enough money to keep hammering away at a market until they own it. They proved it with Android on mobile phones. They proved it with their Chrome browser. They proved it with search and related ads. They've had their share of missteps and projects like Google+ remain out with the jury. However, if the project is ultimately about growing their core business (namely advertising) and getting ads in front of more people, they're absolutely dogged. And while their war chest isn't quite up to Apple's standards, they can win wars of attrition with just about anyone. Besides, what would you rather see on that connected television? A familiar web browser with snappy app interfaces and a cool Web Store or some kludgy Java interface that doesn't look a thing like what you use on your desktop, laptop, mobile phone, or tablet to access content?

5. Because the web will be all you need

This is already true for most users. In developing countries, the only personal computing device that many people own is a simple mobile phone with basic web access. Elsewhere, cloud-based applications continue to displace desktop applications and increasing numbers of users spend their days staring at a web browser instead of any particular application. Microsoft's Office 365 acknowledges the need for at least a hybrid approach to the cloud and most of the interesting software we read about now comes in the form of cloud-based web applications or mobile apps.

Even Adobe, the last reason I bother using a full-blown PC, started shipping Muse (a rich WYSIWYG web development platform) this month and, while not a web application itself, leverages the Air runtime environment to be small, light, and fast.

The next version of Bethesda Software's massively popular and visually stunning Elder Scrolls series? An MMORPG. No, it won't be 100% browser-based, but without the web, fans would just be sitting in front of their aging XBOXes. Goodbye game consoles, hello cloud.

This webification movement has taken off in the last 18 months. It isn't hard to imagine what the next three years will do to the way we think about personal computing. So while Chrome OS got off to a slow start, it's only a matter of time until Google can take advantage of this inflection point at which we find ourselves.

Topic: Browser

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Your 5th point is total flaw

    Well you said for "majority of users", but it can be defeated easily by 10 folds to that "majority of users", who need something beyond web i.e local.
    Ram U
    • Not to mention...

      the 10-fold users who require something beyond Windows!

      Remember, competition is a GOOD thing, and even benefits those who wouldn't dream of straying from the Windows fold.
    • The majority of users do use the Internet.

      The majority of computer users do use the Internet, and the majority of those users use the Internet most of the time, so the author is right.

      The number of computer users who use a computer because they want to use a Microsoft product is a minority. Even Microsoft Windows users mostly use Windows computers to access the Internet, so the author is again right.

      Smartphone/tablet users outnumber Windows users by a large margin, so yet again, the author is right.

      It is true that the Microsoft monopoly may control, protect, and exclude competition from the PC OEM pre-install market through various licensing cartels/concessions and user lock-ins so as to maintain an 80%+ market monopoly, but so what?

      The question is not whether Microsoft controls 80% of PC pre-loads, it is about the Internet, and Microsoft's 80%+ monopoly of the PC market is irrelevant to this point. Microsoft's declining share on the browser marketshare (despite the fact that it is preload on every Windows PC, points the way.
      • Microsoft product?

        "The number of computer users who use a computer because they want to use a Microsoft product is a minority"

        Really? First of all, people do not use Windows because it is a Microsoft product. They use it because it is the only OS out there that fills all their computing needs, has the largest developer base, device support etc. If you want to get the most out of a computer, then you need to use Windows. That includes, but is not limited to Games, Music creation, Video editing, Statistical analysis, building management, HR, accounts, word processing and spreadsheets, media playback, development, equipment control, etc. Windows owns it ALL

        Everything in other OSes gives you less flexibility and takes 5 times as long - that is a fact, not an anecdote.

        Secondly, people are ONLY interested in using Microsoft Office. The alternatives are usually more "nice to have" than "want to use". Same situation - alternatives may be good enough in some ways, but it takes far less time to produce documents in Office.
  • Funny

    It will never happen. I recently ran chrome and I can't think of one reason why I should be using it, not a single one.

    The prime reason is the reliance on non native applications the second one the free privacy invasion that any piece of software from Google includes. Especially on the desktop, where it took GNU/Linux 20 years to go from 0 to about 2%.
    • So true. Not 5 reasons...no reasons.

      Five reasons everyone will be using Chrome OS in 3 years! Ha! The writer had to have known this was nothing but a pointless flame bait topic.

      Once again we see writers around ZDNet posting ridiculous predictions, with less chance of happening then a long odds bet. Its ridiculous that they waste our time with these things.

      I guess its great fun to make ridiculous predictions here because there seems to be so little backlash when they are wrong, and when the one out of 100 of bizarre predictions miraculously does come true, its a great place to gloat about it.

      What these wing nuts seem to forget is that as in many cases in life, where you predict a change that would be incredible if true, that there is typically some "mission critical" criteria that had previously confounded such changes that has suddenly been solved. That opens the door for the big change.

      There is an absolutely "mission critical" issue that would have to be resolved for ANY operating system to even have a slight chance of pushing Windows out. That mission critical issue is, the new OS would have to be able to do everything Windows does, at least as well or better. EVERYTHING.

      What the pundits of alternative operating systems just cannot seem to grasp; it continuously seems to evade their psyche, is that people like Windows and most like it allot. They like the Windows UI, they like the programs Windows runs, they like the compatibility Windows has with endless sorts of hardware, they love the games it plays and the work it can do.

      The Windows nay sayers would at least do themselves a service if when they are evaluating their own predictions to at least start from the premise that about 90%+ of the world is using Windows and they like it a lot. That first initial fact should go into every single calculation pertaining to the predicted future of how any OS is going to fare against Windows.

      Once somebody designs an operating system that can do everything and anything that Windows can do, and do it as well then you have a potential challenger. Not before. OSX might have been a better contender if you were not forced to only use it on Apple hardware. Nothing horribly wrong with Apple hardware except that its not as varied as Windows hardware and its far more expensive.

      Linux has been trying for years at price "FREE" to get a meaningful market share, and there are many Linux variations that are pretty good operating systems, but its just not Windows, and while for Linux advocates that may elicit a "thank God", for 90% of the world it elicits a "not interested".

      Sorry, but this article is a poorly thought out joke.
      • The Mission Critical Issue....

        ... Is Windows 8 and the foisting of Metro on everyone. MS is determined to reduce what Windows can do so that it's more like a mobile phone OS. MS wants everyone tied to the cloud and using one app at a time.

        ChromeOS doesn't have nearly as far to come to catch Metro. In fact, it probably already has. All MS has to do to achieve feature parity with ChromeOS is remove the desktop "App" or limit it to costlier versions of Windows.

        Given a choice between a Metro only Windows tablet, and a ChromeOS tablet, which would you choose then?
      • Sounds very familiar


        In fact, it became [b]extremely[/b] familiar... once I tried replacing the words "Windows 8" with "iOS", "Metro" with 'iOS", and "MS" with "Apple".

        It also was very familiar when I replaced "Windows 8" and "Metro" with "Android", and "MS" with "Google".

        Funny how that works, isn't it?
      • Metro - No Brainer

        etosamoe - Metro.
        I cannot run a business with Chrome.
        Especially not at the Enterprise level.
      • I thought it was WELL thought out - he had good points

        He wasn't trying to say it would be the only OS you would be using, just that you would be using it.

        I'm on my second Android phone now (third year with it) and like he says, that wil converge with Chrome OS. It has a lot of promise - somewhat more than IOS due to more openness.

        You aren't going to run your enterprise on it in three years but you most likely will connect it to your enterprise. And you most likely will have some personal use for the OS.
        Schoolboy Bob
      • same old argument

        If what you were saying was really true, MS would have a majority share of the smart phone os market. People are doing fine without Windows there. Once you have a generation that's spent more time on an alternative os, there won't be any familiarity with Windows. MS gets it as they are changing the very thing you say people crave.
        Android has the lion's share of the mobile os market and it's silly to think Android and Chrome won't meld. At some point, Chrome OS will be more familiar to the majority of computer users than Windows will.
      • Please explain...

        Schoolboy Bob
        How does being "more open" translate into more promise? I could say that iOS has more promise cause it's surrounded by a secure well managed Walled Garden. In either case those statements without accompanying FACTS or RESEARCH mean little but the individuals opinion on the matter.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • For these folks ...

        ... the attraction to Linux/Android/Chrome is the "zero cost" for the operating system. What they neglect to consider is that (1) their time IS money since the typical consumer has neither the time nor the will to learn what they need to know to do their own "care and feeding" on Linux and its derivatives.

        The open-source model may foster innovation but it also leads to incompatibilities between variants - far more incompatibilities than arise from Windows upgrades.
        M Wagner
      • Don't be silly - Metro IS Windows

        ... and will therefore ship on every Windows branded tablet, laptop, desktop device from every OEM that makes them... the X86 variant is already fully compatible with every application that it's predecessor was... Metro is a new interface, but the overall functionality remains the same or has been enhanced, in some cases significantly enhanced (like start up speed, data transfer speeds, etc).

        Chrome OS isn't a tablet and the article doesn't suggest that it is, the article suggest that in 3 years you will be able to do everything you need on a Chromebook and can therefore replace Windows. Which there's no factual evidence to make such a suggestion more than a joke... and a bad one. Far more likely that Windows will be even more grossly embedded in 3 years than it is today.
        widow maker
      • This Won't Happen

        because everyone will be using Linux. Ask Stevie Boy Vaughan-Nichols.
      • @Blogsworth - now THAT was funny...!! {NT}

      • I am using Windows and I don't like it at all.

        Who care about Windows? An OS without applications is nothing. Windows does nothing, it is simply an OS and not as good as Linux. People don't necessary like Windows, they need Windows to run applications. Up to now, there are much more applications on Windows but this is going to change with Cloud Computing. I use Windows, Linux, Android and Chrome OS. However when I use Window, I spend 95% of my time on the net since all my data are in the Cloud. I use a lot of Applications in the Cloud. Chrome OS is fast, much faster than Window with IE. Nowadays, there are already very good applications in the Cloud and more are coming. This is simply a matter of time, cloud applications will displace Desktop applications. My previous tablet has been stolen and thanks God, my personal data are in the cloud. My productivity has been increased since I can access everywhere and at any time without having to worry about viruses. Thanks to Google Drive, I can even work offline. More about Windows, I have to re-install my Window every 2-3 years because of Virus even with an Anti-Virus. Windows compatibility with endless hardware? ARM? SPARC? MIPS? Can you run Windows on a RaspBerry PI? etc ... Come on you are seriously joking. If Linux ( desktop) failed to beat Windows does not mean it is not better. Linux is already everywhere, you use it more than Windows but you don't know: Super computer, SmartPhone, TV, appliances, etc. During you fly, when you watch film and Video, do you know that Linux is hidden behind ( not Window). Do you know that Skype is powered by Linux? Not to mention Google, Yahoo, Amazone, Facebook, Twitter, etc ...
        • In time, MS will drop off and will have to drop their price to survive.

          MS spreads lies that Linux is just too hard to use. That is crap. Try Linux Mint 13. You can run it from a Live DVD without installing it on your hard drive. Vista was a FLOP and Win 8 is even worse.
          They would have to pay me big bucks to use Win 8 and I would still set up a PC so I could use Linux without MS knowing that I was using it. Worst OS I have ever seen. idk, Vista was pretty bad too.
          You need an app on linux, you download it for free. Viruses? Not many for Linux. That is because it is Open Source. That means that people look at the code and find them. Every OS has it's problems. But having to buy a new OS every year or so at $150 - $200. That is insane. Win 8 won't last as long as Vista. It's another MS Screw Up.
          If your going to knock Linux, at least try Mint 13, so you know what you are talking about. I have used MS since DOS, ya know, before windows. I think that each version of Windows that reaches EOL (End Of Life) should become Open Source.
          MS is afraid of Linux. They know that all the misinformation that they can spew, will only keep people from learning the truth for so long.
          And Google, Free OS's, you will find more than just Linux. If MS was gone tomorrow, I for one, would not miss it a bit. Microsoft is holding back software development Greed, greed, greed = Microsoft.....
          Oh, and software venders need to offer Linux versions of their software or they will be playing catch-up, after the fact. More profitable to get in from the beginning than playing catch-up ! ! !
          Russell Hall
      • Windows will continue to dominate desktop OSes, but...

        The market share of desktop OSes is getting smaller. Both mobile devices and the cloud are eating away market. Within the next couple of years, mobile devices will outnumber PC's. The cloud is also gaining ground. so while Microsoft will continue to dominate its niche markets of desktop PC's and enterprise domain services, it will no longer dominate all of computing as it once did.

        The big winners in the mobile device market will be Google and Apple, and the big winner in the cloud will be Google.

        Google is also better positioned to integrate all of these in the enterprise. The enterprise of the future will likely be in the cloud. The physical servers in the cloud data center will run Hyper-V or VMware. The enterprise domains will exist as virtual networks, with many sysadmin tasks now done manually being done automatically by scripts. Mobile devices like tablets will be the preferred choice for clients because their walled-garden nature will make unauthorized use more difficult than with PC's. Google will have a huge competitive advantage over Apple in that Google API's will be more compatible with Windows administration than Apple's, allowing system administrators more programmatic control over tablets' access to the App store than Apple.
      • Yes, Mission Critical

        You've just about said it all with mission critical. For mission critical, you need proven reliability and not just 3 years. Windows has been around a long time and except for a few missteps, it has become very reliable. It is possible for Chrom OS but not in the foreseeable future. You basically cannot bet your business on Crome OS.