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back to article Chromebooks to break out of US schools: Netbook 2.0 comeback not just for children

It may be a niche, but the market for Chromebooks will grow, according to research company Gartner. The analyst has predicted 5.2 million of the Google OS-powered laptops will be sold this year. Not only that, but the number-crunchers also reckon sales will nearly triple by 2017. That growth will come from Chromebooks breaking …

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Wait, Gartner seriously believe that massive retooling and provision of always-on internet connections will somehow work out cheaper than buying an equally-shit Windows laptop that costs the same and requires no retooling or cellular data?

And people pay them for this insight?

Who? And do those people eat with corks on their forks?

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Uhm, it's hard to see what advantages a Windows laptop would have over a Chromebook. So it does make sense for people using Windows laptops to switch to Chromebooks.

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Chromebooks do not require an internet connection. Even when they do, how many users need cellular data?

The thing about $250 laptops is that Chromebooks at that price are not shit at all. Think of the things you can't do on a Chromebook. RAW photo editing, video editing and advanced Office features are the main ones people mention. Now imagine doing those things on a $250 Windows laptop! And how many people where you work need video editing and anything which can't be done in Google Docs or the native Office editor?

Chromebooks do 99% of the stuff average home users need to do. If they want to get a new Windows PC which does that 99% as fast and smoothly as a Chromebook, they would have to spend many hundreds. But they would not have a rock solid OS and inherent virus protection (in Chrome OS everything is sandboxed and it verifies the OS every time it boots). So for the average user suffering Windows slowdown the best option is to get a $200 Chromebook for 99% of their tasks and keep their sluggish Windows PC to boot once in a blue moon for the other stuff. How would the market look if people did that?

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I appreciate that a chromebook will boot and allow at least a guest login without one, but in what sense do you mean "Chromebooks do not require an internet connection."? I am genuinely curious.

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You can install offline apps. For example, you can write documents, view emails, play games, watch videos, listen to music, look at photos, read books...

You will need internet at some point, just as you do with a Windows PC, to install the software in the first place and to get updates. But unless you want to browse the web or use a live app like Twitter, you don't need to maintain a connection. But have you ever had no connection? For me it's not an issue, and if it was an issue then a Windows PC or a tablet would be a lot less use too, so there is no disadvantage to the Chromebook from connectivity issues.

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Happy

Our staff who use Chromebooks want more for their colleagues and

friends whose Windows machines crapped out and bought Chromebooks are raving about them. Not sure about the workplace as a whole though. I've used one at home for months and haven't missed anything, just easier to use.

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workers

well, here I would guess none of them could make do with a Chromebook - well, they could, but it would defeat the point. Currently most have Igel Terminals connected to either Windows Terminal Server or a Linux server for development work. I suppose you could replace that terminal, its external, full sized keyboard, mouse and 24" display with an small, cut down keyboard and 13" display to remote in, but why would you?

Those that have PCs use a Windows based ERP solution which integrates to Office using OLE, so switching to a cloud Office suite, like Google Docs or Office.com wouldn't work, half of the features for reporting and analysis would no longer work.

The other problem, here, is that Chromebooks are more expensive than Windows machines. I looked on Amazon yesterday, the cheapest Chromebook I could find cost around 385€, that was a Celeron with 2GB RAM, for 20€ less I could get a Lenovo laptop with an AMD processor and 4GB RAM. If the Chromebooks here followed US pricing, they might stand a chance, but they are priced at a premium over better specified Windows kit at the moment.

Over on ZDNet earlier in the year they were claiming that Amazon US had a Chromebook as the number one best seller and several in the top 10. Here (Germany) there was one in the top 40. Looking yesterday, there wasn't a single Chromebook in the Amazon top 100!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: workers

They are hard to get in Australia as well. Ebay sellers in the US can make a nice margin and still undercut local retail. Dell USA has delisted its new Chromebook due to overwhelming demand so it will be a long time before Australia is on the OEM radar. I bought one for my son (via ebay) and they are awesome.

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LDS
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Sure, you can do a lot offline with a 16GB hard disk... it's half my RAM... and not much more the RAM of the average Windows PC.

Verifies the OS every time it boots? Ooooooh, looks like TPM and secureboot to me, which of course is evil if MS does it, but a great feature if Google does it (while sending all of your data to Google 'for added security', of course)

Sanboxed apps? Like WinRT apps?

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LDS
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With a 16GB hard disk? C'mon...

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You may have not heard of it, but this thing is out now called USB, it allows hard disks and flash drives to be used on a Chromebook.

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Anonymous Coward

@LDS

Who are you trying to convince?

You sound like you're a school boy comparing your bikes, or something.

Grow up, and stop loving MS so much that it distracts you from reality. They make some good products, and they make shitty ones. Try to treat separate products differently, rather than love whatever MS strain out their arses, and your new career in IT might be a bit more enjoyable.

What a whopper...

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WinRT

@LDS I thought WinRT was a good idea and well suited to certain roles, but that got a lot of hate too. With so few people wanting to write for it, you'd probably end up using the web for most things so you might as well just get a Chromebook instead. Having it check the OS on startup is not a bad thing just because MS does it. The OP was probably not talking about Win RT though, so it would require additional AV whereas Chrome OS does not. Chrome OS is better than Win RT and $250 Chromebooks are better than $250 Windows PCs.

I have a 16Gb SSD in my Chromebook and 63kb in my Downloads folder (the one which is not automatically synced). My desktop only has 30Gb, which is far more than I need. My Windows laptop has 320Gb, which is a total waste. Please be aware that it is possible to back up data, even if it's in the cloud. A lot of commentards forget that.

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Re: workers

Watch out for really cheap AMD equipped laptops. The bottom rung of Windows laptop buying has got quite tricky.

If you buy the cheapest AMD CPU laptop, chances are you will end up with a E1 spec CPU. I had one in to look at that was a 1GHz dual core. It was terrible. Took me back to the days of Windows 3.1 and seeing the egg timer on screen more then the cursor. To make it even half usable I had to rebuild it with a 120GB SSD. It still didn't perform well. For the sake of £50 extra it could have been a different story. Those E1 CPUs are sub Atom spec IMO and not designed to run Windows.

My Chromebook on the other hand is two years old and still as nippy as the day I bought it.

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Re: WinRT

Yes, carrying masses of data around on a laptop/mobile device is a daft liability. Quite old fashioned really.

All the old bulk data I have is kept at home on a NAS. The day to day stuff I need/use stays in a Google Drive folder. About 1GB if you must know. I need to trim it down soon.

All my laptops have been slimmed down to mostly 64GB SSD drives. A couple have 120GBs in them but not required. My Chromebook has nothing stored on it locally. Doesn't need it as its 2014 and not 1998 anymore, connectivity/internet wise.

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Re: WinRT @Craigness

Please be aware that it is possible to back up data, even if it's in the cloud. A lot of commentards forget that.

A lot of people forget, "backing up" in the cloud, then deleting the original isn't backing up, it is copying.

Remember the 3-2-1 rule:

No file exists, unless:

There are at least 3 copies

They are stored on at least 2 different medium

At least one copy is stored off site.

Storing in the cloud fulfills the last part, but if you aren't keeping it locally, it ain't a backup.

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LDS
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Sure, very comfortable to use it with always an USB sticking out or a drive connected... think, other devices can store everything inside...

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LDS
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LOL! Bitterly hit by my remarks? Stop thinking everything Google does is marvelous, grow up and stop thinking they have elves working there...

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LDS
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Re: WinRT

My camera has 64GB CFs. When I'm in the wild shooting, I need those old fashioned large disks to download images from them. And not the whole world is still connected at fast speed. Sure, if you never travel you have very little need for local storage

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Anonymous Coward

No, you childishly compared each factor with Microsoft's equivalent. Your tainted opinion means nothing to me, it's the way you chant it.

And no, I don't feel Google is marvellous at everything. I just use what I believe is the best tool for the job, regardless of who made it. I products use MS, Google, Apple, and anyone else.

I'm an engineer and geek, I work on facts.

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Anonymous Coward

It might not be enough for you, mr "power user", but this probably is not for you.

16GB is ample when you consider the use cases for the CB and the fact it isn't Windows, nor do you need to install several hundred MB applications for basic use.

In my case, I'd be lucky to squeeze Office or Visual Studio on that - but guess what? That means nothing, because I wouldn't but it on there anyway!

Stop comparing it to Windows standards, because it isn't Windows.

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LDS
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Given the article was comparing Chromebooks with cheap Windows laptops, what comparison should I do? I wasn't 'chanting' anything - just pointing out Chrome OS has no special features not available in Windows, and that is pretty funny 'chanting' about what most MS haters regard as 'evil' features in Windows.

And it looks Chrome users are too coward to comment with their user... unlike Windows users. Ashamed of being a Chrome user?

And of course my opinion is tainted while your is based on 'facts'. It looks to me I pointed out facts while you did not, and just trying a childish bullying approach.

And it's now you boasting about what you are... and you really don't know what I am.

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LDS
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Guess most common users have easily more than 16GB of photos, music and videos on their PC. Even phones try to have more storage. And that type of user probably will have no NAS, and thereby it's forced to rely on an Internet connection - and unsecure WiFi connections are so common and a security risk - or always in the need of an USB stick or disk, very practical setup.

But of course Google wants all your data on its servers where it can analyze them to profile and sell you.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: workers

"If the Chromebooks here followed US pricing, they might stand a chance, but they are priced at a premium over better specified Windows kit at the moment."

And the Windows laptops have a proper full featured OS, not a cut down version of Android. And can run native MS Office apps.

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Anonymous Coward

"You will need internet at some point, just as you do with a Windows PC"

You absolutely don't need the Internet if you don't want to use it for basic tasks like that with Windows.

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@anon. I'm not sure what you're trying to say about the need for connectivity. With Windows and Chrome OS you need the internet to install and update software and the OS (we're well past the days of software on CDs but both OSs can install from CD). Chrome OS does not need internet for anything else, but for both OSs there is specific software which requires an internet connection. In my day-to-day usage I would be equally screwed on Windows or Chrome without internet. But in my day-to-day usage the internet is always there, so the question is "do you want something fast and stable or do you want Windows?"

big_d

What's so confusing about "it is possible to back up data, even if it's in the cloud"? Here are 2 examples of cloud and backup coexisting:

1) Create content locally, back it up, put it in the cloud.

2) Create content in the cloud, download it, back it up.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WinRT

I have a 500GB SS disk in my Dell 1012 Netbook, and it's 80% used...

As for the idea that a clumsy external USB device can be equivalent. Well. You have to be joking...

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What's so confusing about "it is possible to back up data, even if it's in the cloud"? Here are 2 examples of cloud and backup coexisting:

We were talking about lack of local storage and you said back it up in the cloud. If you don't have the local storage on a 16GB drive for all your videos and photos, then you are copying them to the cloud.

I use Carbonite cloud backup for my offsite storage, plus local hard drive, plus external drive, plus NAS and the important stuff on DVD. Cloud is one part of the backup. Just using the cloud to store the only copy isn't a backup.

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@big_d Backup to an external drive. Then it's backed up. I didn't say "back up to the cloud," I said that even if something is in the cloud (eg. most of your data when you use a chromebook) that doesn't mean you can't back it up.

@anon you don't have to keep the usb drive in the machine. People don't have a problem with 16gb on a chromebook.

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Okay, I apologise, I misread your original comment, as we were talking about no local storage on Chromebooks and storing in the cloud, I made a false assumption

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Re: WinRT

Except Chrome OS has no support for a NAS or network shares. Which is a complete mystery to me. It's not as though Samba and SMB/CIFS support in linux is exactly new.

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This post has been deleted by its author

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Re: Cheap Windows PCs with Bing

We have one at work for assessment. The "heavily poisoned search returns" don't exist because the OEM has to supply the machine with Bing as the search engine but the user (and the Group Policy admin) can set whatever search engine they like as default. Sorry to disappoint you.

The rest of the damn thing is comparable to a Chromebook except it has a 500GB hybrid drive which fails to be painfully slow and can actually store data.

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Re: Cheap Windows PCs with Bing

"and the Group Policy admin"

So you are saying you can join Windows 8.1 with Bing to a domain? Pull the other one.

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Re: Cheap Windows PCs with Bing

What model? What's the volume price? And how does it compare to a Chromebook volume price?

Although hybrid drives aren't much more expensive than all-rotary ones, they seem to have a bigger markup when they are put in a laptop. If you know of one without a premium, people would like to hear about it.

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Re: Cheap Windows PCs with Bing

Because unless you buy Windows 8.1 Pro or Enterprise, the facility to join a domain isn't there, same as Win 7. I can't see Microsoft supplying 8.1 Pro with a $/£300 laptop, when the standalone license for Pro is £160 on its own or £85 as an upgrade from 8.1 Basic.

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Re: Cheap Windows PCs with Bing

The average user is someone I get to support daily. Most of them don't know what they have, what it does, or how to do much of anything accept write and read e-mail and surf the web. And this is all with Windows computers. Give them something different, such as "Chrome" and they most certainly will have difficulty with "change".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cheap Windows PCs with Bing

Nope, happy with my Chromebook thanks. Why would I want that insecure Windows crap?

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Re: Cheap Windows PCs with Bing

@Frank N Stein "And this is all with Windows computers. Give them something different, such as "Chrome" and they most certainly will have difficulty with "change"."

Sorry but in my own experience of users moving OSs I disagree.

They only ask a few questions. "Where is the internet. How do I get my mail." And possibly "How do I open my documents" and "How do I print''.

Most now use, or have had experience with, either touch phones or tablets with either Android or iOS and it doesn't phase them like it used too. People are generally better at adapting than sometimes they are given credit for (of course there are exceptions that brighten ones day !). Yes, Microsoft would love people to believe their way is the only way, (and then they go and copy everyone else....)

The reality is it's never been easier to change OS, and that is great for the user as it is something they shouldn't have to worry about.

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FAIL

Re: Cheap Windows PCs with Bing @John Crisp

"How do I print''

So, what do you say to the home user who didn't have a problem printing to the printer via USB or ethernet with his Linux/Windows box?

"See, the cheaper price for this chromebook allows you to invest in brand-spanking new CLOUD technology which your old printer didn't even support"

"Yes, Microsoft would love people to believe their way is the only way"

That applies to Google, Apple and many other vendors as well.

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Re: Cheap Windows PCs with Bing

"Why do you think it would not be able to join a domain?"

Because it's the cheap/home/basic version of windows so no joining a domain, and no global policy, it's been like that since XP. You need Pro or better to join a domain.

I expect they will let you upgrade to the pro version for a pile of cash, but that defeats the purpose.

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Re: Cheap Windows PCs with Bing

For all the "average" users with XP.

Give them something different, such as "Windows 8" and they most certainly will have difficulty with "change".

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Re: Cheap Windows PCs with Bing

With Windows 8, there is a facility for a non Pro machine to join a 2012 domain as a guest.

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Pint

Re: Cheap Windows PCs with Bing @John Crisp

"Yes, Microsoft would love people to believe their way is the only way"

That applies to Google, Apple and many other vendors as well.

Pint for Sandtitz, deserves a +100!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cheap Windows PCs with Bing

Sorry but in my own experience of users moving OSs I disagree.

Let me add that home users have no interest in what OS they use - as long as it works.

For the depth that they use a computer for, even a fresh install of the same OS requires some re-learning.

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Re: Cheap Windows PCs with Bing

No they don't have difficulty. All you do is spend 10-15 minutes with them explaining how the thing works and how it differs from their old machine. They'll get it.

It's called 'Training', a long forgotten practice I know but it's how you get folks to get the most out of what they are using.

Not difficult. Try it sometime.

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Re: Cheap Windows PCs with Bing

Because you don't want to tell a company that exists to advertise what you do?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cheap Windows PCs with Bing

compared to what? a company that wants to extract as much money as possible from you, repeatedly, for a different shaped shit than last years?

different strokes for different folks...

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Re: Cheap Windows PCs with Bing

Not true. I know one 70+ year old lady who switched to a W8 laptop from XP desktops and loves it.

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