The perfect candidate for a Chrome desktop

The perfect candidate for a Chrome desktop

Summary: The best sign of hope may be Google eating its own dog food. I think we should all wait until they finish.


That would be me.

I have been running Windows (and hating it) for a quarter-century. One of my prize possessions is a copy of Windows 1.0, hand-signed by Bill Gates, who promises "the software will do the job."

It didn't. It doesn't.

My present hardware is obsolete. I'm in the market for something new. I have even used Linux desktops in the past, as readers here know.

But there's a problem. A quarter century of stuff, a quarter-century of habits. How much of the stuff will I lose access to, and how many of the habits must I change?

One reason I'm a good candidate is I have mainly switched to Windows open source programs. I use The Gimp. I like Chrome. I love Open Office.  All come in Linux versions, I know.

But I also run iTunes and have a POP3 e-mailer (Thunderbird). The last should not be an obstacle, but I also must put a program in front of that e-mailer, called Mailwasher, because my ISP's filtering misses all the Viagra spam. (I know I'm over 50 -- I don't need the constant reminders.)

Fact is that these days any desktop change is a major hassle, which is why I'm using hardware from 2005. (Kelly Clarkson was on my hard drive, and the kids were still lined up to watch Revenge of the Sith in 2-D.)

My last switchover, from Windows to Windows, took nearly a week. Applications were transferred between hard drives, but since the drives were mirrored many of my desktop problems probably date from the 20th century.

I suspect my situation is not unusual. I'm a fairly typical subject of Windows tyranny. But I do stuff. I use CDs and DVDs for content, I like my WiFi, and I need all of that to transfer seamlessly. My previous experience in these areas were fiascos.

That is why the best sign of hope may be Google eating its own dog food. There are probably a lot of people in my situation at the Googleplex, and other Googlers are going to be wasting their valuable time in the next few months getting them crossed over, and they're going to lose productivity themselves.

My hope is that experience will teach Google some lessons they can apply to the rest of us. Knowing that their own people are very smart, while the rest of us have managed to protect our stupidity. It's those lessons that will make the difference between success and failure for the Chrome desktop.

I think we should all wait until they finish.

Topics: Operating Systems, Hardware, Software, Windows

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  • The perfect candidate for a Chrome desktop

    Dana,<br><br>As a tech journalist I am shocked on how you don't keep up-to-date in technology and how you drop unexplained comments like, <br><br>"I suspect my situation is not unusual. Im a fairly typical subject of Windows tyranny."<br><br>What is that supposed to mean? As far I can tell it's Apple that is the tyrant these days, closed systems and market coersion.
    • RE: The perfect candidate for a Chrome desktop

      @jspignardo@... I'm a tech journalist, not a techie. There is a difference, one I have always recognized and acknowledged. How am I supposed to relate to the average user if I'm able to make stuff that doesn't work well work due to my intimate knowledge of systems?

      I've been using computers for almost 30 years now and I still, sometimes, am made to feel like an idiot. I know you might consider that a weakness. I try to think of it as a strength, and use my stupidity in the service of finding better stories about average users.
      • RE: The perfect candidate for a Chrome desktop


        i feel sorry for you. My last move from Windows to Windows took me about an hour. I still had some data left over but that was easily moved.
      • RE: The perfect candidate for a Chrome desktop

        <i>I?ve been using computers for almost 30 years now and I still, sometimes, am made to feel like an idiot.</i>

        Average people come to the computer store or car mechanic or dentist office or what ever and they feel vulnerable. They are out of their element, they feel insecure an ignorant, and they are afraid of making the wrong choice or even of being cheated by the sales person. We all here perhaps do not feel this way in a computer store, but we all have felt this way many times before.

        This is why Apple adds and apple stores work so well. They make people feel more comfortable and not intimidated. The whole sales pitch of apple is ?Macs are for people, PCs are for stuffy businessmen.?
      • Are you purposely making Windows harder then it actually is?

        @DanaBlankenhorn, I find it odd that with all your years of of experience, that you would have such a bugger of a time with something as simple as a Windows upgrade.
        My brother, who isn't all that computer literate, (far from it to be truthfull) managed to backup his data to an external drive, upgrade his Windows, and reinstall his programs and data. (He did need some help with a driver)

        Yet talking to many here, Linux is harder to initially configure and use, yet we're to assume that its all as easy as pie to you.

        Something doesn't sound right here, IMHO.
        John Zern
      • RE: The perfect candidate for a Chrome desktop

        @John Zern
        <i>Yet talking to many here, Linux is harder to initially configure and use, yet we're to assume that its all as easy as pie to you.</i>

        Depending on the hardware, linux can be much easier to install than windows. If all your hardware is recognized right away, then you could have fully operational system within 30 minutes. This would include things like office aps which you would need to install separately on windows. Windows XP takes me a long time to install even for custom OEM CDs just because it takes for ever to download and install all of the patches and service packs. On top of that I would need to install anti-virus, other software - such as Office, and drivers for hardware that did not come with the computer.

        I found windows 7 installation not as easy as Linux, but much faster than XP.
    • RE: The perfect candidate for a Chrome desktop


      Apple isn't any better but just because Apple is tyrant doesn't make Microsoft any less of Tyrant. Just pick your poison.

      Too much freedom though can be overwhelming as is the case with Linux. You are free to do so much but with that freedom comes a lot of work. Or you can try to run Linux like you were under a tyrant and you'd worse off. I suspect Google will be no different in the end.
      • RE: The perfect candidate for a Chrome desktop

        @voska1 You are free to run whatever you want on Windows/WinCE. Sadly that isn't the case for Apple.

        So where is the tyranny in Microsoft?
      • RE: The perfect candidate for a Chrome desktop

        There are probably a lot of people in my situation at the Googleplex, and other Googlers are going to be wasting their valuable time in the next few months getting them crossed over, and theyre going to lose productivity themselves.<a href=""><font color="LightGrey"> a</font></a>
    • RE: The perfect candidate for a Chrome desktop

      Google some lessons they can<a href=""><font color="light&amp;height"> about it</font></a> is bank that <a href=""><font color="light&amp;height">website</font></a> attacked from the <a href=""><font color="light&amp;height">site support</font></a> from any soldier <a href=""><font color="light&amp;height">site</font></a> to the light <a href=""><font color="light&amp;height">home page</font></a> is great apply
  • Wait til early next year, but an ultra thin sandybridge latop

    with Windows 7 SP1 preinstalled, wireless HDTV streaming capability and a nice HTC Windows Phone 7 and you'll be a happy camper. You will no longer care about google... <img border="0" src="" alt="happy">
    Johnny Vegas
  • Boo Hoo, Windows beat me up :*(

    I know it's soooooo hard to use a windows box, oh wait, no it's not, i don't have a quarter century of doing so but in the decade and a half I do have, Windows has never let me down. Probably because I took the time to learn about the how's and why's behind the OS so when I set up a workstation it stays up. I also never skimped on hardware trying to save a quick buck. Windows is easier and better than ever yet everyone and their mother(literally, I'm talking about your mother) is too lazy to learn, well...anything, anything at all about the magic voodoo picture box that runs their life and the world.

    Do you seriously not have anything better to write about than Windows 1.0? of course that shit sucked, you're talking about the Model T of OS's. which incidentally has about jack squat to do with modern day windows 7. If you can't even handle windows how am I supposed to take your opinion on anything tech related seriously?
    User 13
    • Windows 7 is nice, but Microsoft did have some impressive bugs.

      @User 13

      My problem with windows and microsoft are restrictions and lock in. Sure, compared to Apple, Microsoft is a beacon of freedom, but that is hardly a consolation.

      However, microsoft worked hard to earn it's bad reputation in security and stablitiy. They had some amazing F-ups in the past. For example, it took less than 20 minutes for a computer connected to the net with fresh install of XP SP1 to be infected without any intervetion from the user. There were viruses embedded in JPG files, emails that could infect your computer even if you did not open them and bug paches that did not fix bugs they were meant to fix.
  • Many of you don't get it: Dana is a fairly intelligent guy

    I see many people here lambasting Dana for admitting that something that is easy for us is hard for him. But is that so hard to believe? We all drive cars, and most of us know how internal combustion engines work, but can we change the oil? We all can write about advantages of diesel engine without being able to fix a diesel engine.

    More generally people often feel vulnerable when it comes to technology. Have you ever been in a wedding and you needed to pick out your tux? Did you feel overwhelmed by all the choices of ties, cufflinks, vests, and all other items which you were supposed to pick out, but you knew nothing about them? Did you ever go to a car mechanic and have him tell you that you need some expensive repair, and you think that he might be trying to cheat you, but you were not sure? That?s how people feel when it comes to computers and other consumer electronics.
    • RE: The perfect candidate for a Chrome desktop

      @hamobu Many people, here and elsewhere, will argue with you about my intelligence. So will I on bad days.
    • The MCSE is a strange beast

      He proclaims he's never had a virus and has been using windows since version 1, therefore millions of infected systems don't exist.

      He (like Zern above) says its trivial to upgrade (even my brother could do it), ignoring the help that was required (troubled by drivers).

      He doesn't see a problem with a dozen SKUs for a basic operating system.

      He'll mock other OSes (even refusing the offer to move) as inferior whilst forgiving data loss or running around looking for copies of the installation disk to re-image.

      He'll fight for years against a feature (e.g. restricted permission accounts, almost everything in Mac OS X) until it is adopted by windows (then points to it as a blessing).

      Dana express the frustrations of many. We meet them at BBQs and outings. Millions of households unhappy with their computers, frustrated with their misunderstanding, seeking assistance with anyone that works in our field.

      I respond I don't do windows and enjoy my beer!
      Richard Flude
    • I'm retired and loving it.

      @hamobu I spent over 45 years as an electronics technician, servicing everything from electric guitars to nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers. I programmed my first computer using binary (no, not even BCD). I consider myself to be fairly astute, technically, anyway.
      I ran Win 3.1 on a 12 mHz 286 because I had some software that required Windows. beyond that. I used it to access my DOS programs which ran much faster and did what I wanted to do, my way. Every succeeding version of Windows on later computers slowed me down and reduced flexibility. Oh, yeah, it looked sharp and I used fewer and fewer keystrokes to run programs, I loved the mouse, but soon it took forever to print (on my 9 pin) because I found myself relying more and more on graphics. Point is, now though I can do so much on the 'net, I really feel hamstrung with my computer running Win7 compared to what I could do back then, and all my previous experience is basically useless. I'm a progress lover, but not at the expense of losing all the capabilities I had built up. Now I can glance to the right of my desktop and see the date, time and weather. But I can't put a custom spreadsheet together.
  • I can really identify, and yeah, Chrome looks tempting

    I've been using Windows and now Linux for about as long as Dana and can very much relate. I use tons of very different software from CAD and 3D design to OpenOffice and video editors and photo editors and audio editors and web page creation . . . lots. I just eventually got sick of the whole proprietary software payment and upgrade merry go round. If I continued to use the top proprietary closed source software packages it would cost me thousands of dollars a year just to try and keep up. So I gradually turned to the open alternatives like OOo instead of Office; Gimp instead of Photoshop; Inkscape instead of Illustrator; Blender instead of 3DS Max. And just kept going with Windows versions of those until I realized everything I was using works great in Ubuntu.

    But still, it's hard to keep up. You still have to update all these packages often, there are always new OS versions and new app versions with more features to re-install - it's still tiring. I love web based apps like Gmail and other Google apps because I don't have to maintain anything but an up to date browser, and I don't have to 'sync' my email onto various devices, it's all in the cloud.

    Of course, we're a long way from having a true Gimp or video editor or OOo equivalent in web apps, and before you can go with something like Chrome - well, you need to have every app that you need with a viable web based alternative. Chrome is hugely tempting but also hugely premature. I wonder why there aren't more attempts to take some of this Free Open Source software and host online versions of it. Seems like a quick and dirty way to implement a cloud ecosystem sooner rather than later.

    At any rate, Chrome OS may be perfectly mature, but it hardly matters. It's the online apps that will make or break it, and at this point they just aren't there. Google needs to concentrate on improving and rounding out their online apps and encouraging a lot more development in that area. When the apps are ready, then people will move to a browser based OS without any prodding whatsoever. At this point, it's the cart before the horse.
  • Never Show Weakness

    ZDNetters appear to be like the space spiders from "Lost in Space" -- they eat their wounded.

    I'm proud to be able to admit when I don't know something or when I was wrong. Growth requires acknowledgement.

    Anyway, I'm not sure what legacy files you have, but I've done a couple tests where I've gone thirty days without any local apps. The change is difficult at first, but once you have your systems set up, there were very few issues (I'm not a gamer).

    Try buying a domain from Google, getting Google Apps for free on it, and adding the missing functionality from the Apps Marketplace. It could work for you. I give you a 50% chance, and if it works, you gain device independence and you'll never have to go through migration again.
  • RE: The perfect candidate for a Chrome desktop

    I'm waiting to see what chrome can do. this from a person who makes his living fixing and building windows boxes. chrome should be perfect for people who are always connected, like netbooks running on a private network. think back to the bad old days of netbooks which only had about 8GB of flash storage and are stuck on linux (and the poor owners who had no idea how little they could really do with linux compared to even windows XP). Chrome should be a very welcome option in the netbook / old notebook scene.

    For those of us that have experienced windows 7 though, there is no way i will willingly switch to chrome. i do not want to lose the ability to save a download once and not need to download it again. sure, it's big and slow compared to linux, but it does (or can do) everything you ask of it, assuming you don't want to recreate the source code to optimise the system for your exact hardware. I'm currently running windows 7 on an IBM T60, and once tweaked correctly, have no problems at all.
    by the way, unlike linux / chrome, i CAN play more than web games.