'ChromeOS seems just like crippleware in comparison."
ChromeOS is the same. They both use the same kernel! The plus with ChromeOS you get to also use Android apps in addition to full Linux if you want to.
Linux is different in the kernel and OS are completely separate. So Linux kernel can have SteamOS or Android or ChromeOS or a combination!
I get it is kind of confusing because how Google markets the Chromebooks but fundementally the computers are NOT crippled. The Linux kernel on them is the exact same that is used to run Google cloud for example.
It is a full featured and sophisticated cluster running. The difference is the other software that makes use of the kernel. With ChromeOS you have to bring it to the box which is what Crouton does for you.
But now Google has containers working and we need them to give us access and offer persistance away from ChromeOS system disk. So Crouton would no longer require developer and would run in a container nice and safe.