Five Reasons why Google's Linux Chromebook is a Windows killer

Five Reasons why Google's Linux Chromebook is a Windows killer

Summary: After years, decades, of talking about Linux taking on Windows on the desktop, we finally have a serious contender with a serious backer, Google, behind it. Can it do in Windows on the business desktop?


When Google first started talking about Chrome OS, I thought it might be turn into a Windows killer. Well, now we know that the first commercial Chromebooks will be available in mid-June and there's no question: Google is aiming right at the Windows business desktop market.

Can Google do what the Mac was never able to do? What the various desktop Linuxes, even the most popular ones like Ubuntu have never even come close to pulling off? I think it can. Here's why.

1. Attractive business packaging and pricing

ZDNet Editor-in-Chief, Larry DIgnan, hit the nail on the head when he entitled his Chromebook overview: Google Chromebooks: Aimed directly at Microsoft's PC upgrade cycle for $28 a month. Exactly so. For $28 a month you get a constantly updated operating system and, this is the killer part, Google will also automatically, with no extra charge update your Chromebook or ChromePC every three years.

Would you spend $28 a month for a PC that will never go out of date? I think I would.

What's more important, I think a lot of businesses would as well. Indeed, many already are. Neil Levine, formerly Canonical's VP of corporate services and founder of the new cloud analytics company Soba Labs, tells me that "Many Fortune 500 companies are already trying rent-a-laptop scenarios. It's cheaper to throw away and replace than fix for many function." With the Google Chrome OS model though you don't even have to throw them away and if something goes wrong, Google will replace the dead unit.

2. Ease of use

Linux has a reputation for being hard to use. It's non-deserved. We're long, long way from the days when you needed to be a shell wizard to use Linux. That said, desktop Linux, whether you use KDE or GNOME, requires you to learn a new way of doing things no matter whether you come from Windows or Mac OS X. Even the new, easier-to-use Ubuntu Unity interface is quite a change from any other desktop.

With Chrome OS, though, well let me ask you a question: Can you use a Web browser? If the answer is yes-and if it's not how are you reading this story!?--you can use Chrome OS. The interface is the Chrome Web browser and that's it. There's no need to learn anything new. If you know how to use a computer at all, you can use a Chromebook.

3. Lots of Applications

People have always been cranky about the perceived lack of applications for Linux. I think this is nonsense myself since there are lots of excellent open-source applications such as LibreOffice for office work, Evolution for Outlook users, Pidgin for instant-messaging and on and on. What people usually mean when they say there are no apps. for Linux is that they can't run their favorite Windows game or business application on Linux.

Again, that's not an issue on Chrome OS. Google has partnered with Citrix and VMWare to provide Windows business apps for Chromebooks. Both partners have been delivering Windows applications on virtual platforms and in thin-clients for years, or decades in Citrix's case. Mind you I wouldn't trying running Adobe Photoshop on a Chromebook unless I had an incredibly fast Internet connection, but anything else shouldn't be a problem.

Besides, as Google is happy to point out, many of you are already running applications on the cloud already such as Google Docs or Salesforce. No, applications are not a problem for the Chromebooks.

Page 2: [Security & A great Brand Name] »

Security & A great Brand Name

4. Security

Yes, malware can strike anywhere, even on Macs. That said, for every attack that works on a Mac, a Linux PC, or a Chrome browser, there are tens-of-thousands that work on Windows. That's no surprise. Windows started out insecure by design. Linux and the Chrome browser were both designed to operate in a hostile networked world rather than on a standalone PC.

5. Google Brand Recognition

Linux users know about Red Hat, openSUSE, and Ubuntu, ask anyone else what any of those three names are and you'll get a blank one. Everyone on the planet though knows who Google is. While Google has made its share of mistakes, Google is still a trusted brand. According to Millward Brown's recent brand survey, Google is the second most valuable brand in the world.

A company that would shy away from using "Linux" desktops from Canonical, Ubuntu's parent company, or anyone else, might very well buy one from Google and its hardware partners, Acer and Samsung. From where the customer sits, they're not buying something strange or new from an unknown party, they're buying a PC that's already using a system they know from a company that they already trust.

Put it all together, and I think Microsoft's Steve Ballmer did far more than blow a few billion on Skype, I think he wasted his time on a side-issue while Google came straight at Microsoft's strongest stranglehold on the industry: the business desktop.

Should Microsoft worry? Yeah, I think so. They've got Apple making in-roads on the business desktop front with tablets and smartphones, may other companies, like HP, are also going after the business desktop with tablets, and now Google has finally thrown down the gauntlet on the business desktop.

Dare I say it? I think for the first time in decades, Microsoft is facing real trouble on the desktop. Seem unlikely? Remember when everyone used Internet Explorer and then along came Firefox? I see the desktop market at a similar tipping point.

Related Stories:

Google Chromebooks: Aimed directly at Microsoft's PC upgrade cycle for $28 a month

Over time, Chromebooks can take consumer love (and money) away from Windows, iPad

So, who wants a Chromebook? (I don't)

Acer Chromebook (Photos)

Samsung Series 5 Chromebook (photos)

Topics: Hardware, Google, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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  • Finally

    An os built for users as opposed to one designed for maximum profit. Yeap this looks every bit just what we were looking for. Sign me up
    • RE: Five Reasons why Google's Linux Chromebook is a Windows killer


      Obviously you do not know Google very well do you? They are a marketing company. Their only goal is to get money out of you or provide you with ads so other people can get money out of you.
      • RE: Five Reasons why Google's Linux Chromebook is a Windows killer

        @bobiroc <br>Yeap! You are right. And now tell me how Google will earn gold on Chromebooks? Buy his old channels (ads). So it is imperative to Google to make ChromeOS as good as possible! No extra-hiper-super versions for more bucks. No extra hwd support for more bucks. No extra updates for bucks.

        So yes ChromeOS is made for money and not it is not.
      • RE: Five Reasons why Google's Linux Chromebook is a Windows killer

        @bobiroc But how about all the crapware that comes pre-loaded with laptops?
        • Crapware and Chromebooks

          Any reason why crapware shouldn't migrate along with users?
      • as opposed to

        microsoft? apple? they're not out to get money out of you?
        they're all in the busienss of making money.
      • RE: Five Reasons why Google's Linux Chromebook is a Windows killer

        @bobiroc - 100% agreed
      • RE: Five Reasons why Google's Linux Chromebook is a Windows killer

        @landsw - there are subtle differences.;col1

        is one of them.
      • RE: Five Reasons why Google's Linux Chromebook is a Windows killer

        I especially like paying 1k over 3 years for a computer that is nothing more than a browser, where I can't use it when the internet is down and I can't store much if anything on it and can only use cloud applications. I'm pretty sure for 1k I can get a better laptop that will last for 3+years.

        Now in a business environment that may not be true due to licensing costs of the OS and applications, but at the same time I get to manage those systems as well, and my users can still work on their documents when they don't have an internet connection available, it may seem trivial to some, but my users would be severely upset if they couldn't work on their projects without an internet connection.
      • Message has been deleted.

      • RE: Five Reasons why Google's Linux Chromebook is a Windows killer

        Exactly...Google - meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

        Nothing wrong with making money. Just dont act like you are different from other companies that are more up front about it.
      • RE: Five Reasons why Google's Linux Chromebook is a Windows killer


        lol so true. It's funny how people lose sight of that. Sjvn didn't even mention it...maybe Googles check cleared.

        I personally don't want an OS or browser that pops tailored advertisements! Nor do I want a BS $28 upgrade that covers me for life. Sure, it sounds good on paper but Google left out the part where they plan to bump up the hardware requirements every 18 months. Yeah that shiny like new piece of hardware won't do you any good then. That's when consumers and businesses start installing Windows 8!
        • Chromebook upgrades (?)

          I find it hard to believe that Google plans to destroy its own popularity after 18 months.
      • RE: Five Reasons why Google's Linux Chromebook is a Windows killer

        Not sure what your point is. Is this just a complaint?
        Google is in business as is Microsoft/Apple/Amazon etc.
        It just so happens that Google is taking advantage of the CLoud as ones Hard Drive and allowing us to leverage the Internet to maximize our connectiosn to the world for all our Intertainment and APps.
      • RE: Five Reasons why Google's Linux Chromebook is a Windows killer

        @bobiroc ouch. Harsh words. All that bad stuff from Google, and yet they've changed the world! Go figure!
      • RE: Five Reasons why Google's Linux Chromebook is a Windows killer

        Er, uhm- which differentiates them from Microsoft how exactly?
      • Such FUD

        @cyrorm - You can work with documents offline, as long as you're using an app that takes advantage of HTML5's offline storage capabilities. Granted, it's early days for apps that do that (Google Docs/Mail doesn't yet, will in about 2 months) - but there's little doubt it'll be the norm soon for web-based office apps. You can also simply STORE documents offline manually, and use them that way.<br><br> - I thought they said you get a brand new machine every ... 3 years? It's included in the monthly fee.<br><br>@all - when considering the cost tradeoffs, you have to include all the costs associated with building, maintaining, and distributing an image for your company's PCs, with all software updates and distribution, with OS licensing changes (XP to Win7 license costs) and all drag-along application upgrades that come with that, with running and maintaining your own domain services (AD servers, etc.), and more.<br><br>I know we pay WAY more than $28 a month on software licenses <i>alone</i> for things like GuardianEdge (for laptop disk encryption), Acronis (for image mgmt), Symantec for anti-virus, etc. And that's totally ignoring the staff costs associated with all that.<br><br>Frankly, as an IT guy - it gives me pause, from a broader perspective. I think a lot of the industry lives off of companies paying for all the things I just listed, and a lot of internal staff either need to be repurposed toward more strategic things, or let go.
      • Message has been deleted.

    • Even Loverock Davidson is signing up, he says he can't wait to get his

      hands on one. You know if Loverock is switching, it has to be something very special. Lovie should be here soon along with Mike Cox ..... :-)
      Over and Out
      • RE: Five Reasons why Google's Linux Chromebook is a Windows killer