Is Google’s Chrome OS what Windows Lite should be? Here’s what the Chromebook does right

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If the number of active Windows 10 devices is slowly approaching one billion, we now know that Microsoft has been doing significant work in recent years to make Windows 10 more modular. That is the main objective of the Windows Core operating system, which will enhance new devices and form factors such as HoloLens 2, Surface Hub 2X, the next-generation Xbox console with the code name "Project Scarlett", as well as a new operating system for Lightweight PC than technology Currently, the press is referred to as "Windows Lite."

We still don't have many details about Windows Lite, but this new platform is expected to debut on Chromebook-like devices and dual-screen form factors. Google has had great success with Chromebooks in the US educational market. UU., Mainly because these devices are easy to use and manage for IT administrators. Steve Ballmer's Microsoft used to make fun of Chromebooks with an unforgettable "Scroogled" advertising campaign, but the new Microsoft is definitely taking Chromebooks very seriously.

It is still unclear whether Windows Lite will be compatible with all Windows 10 UWP applications and applications inherited from Win32, but Google recently provided support for Android and Linux applications in ChromeOS. Chromebooks are no longer cheap PCs with low power that become useless without an Internet connection, they are actually a very good alternative to cheap Windows laptops for people who don't need all the power of Windows.

I had never used a Chromebook until I saw a lot on an HP 14 "Chromebook. For just € 200, the model I bought (which doesn't seem to be available in the US) It comes with a FullHD IPS screen, a dual core AMD CPU, 4 gigabytes of DDR4 RAM and 64 GB of eMMC storage (expandable with a microSD card) .The build quality is quite good, and this machine also has two USB 3.1 Type C ports and 2 USB 2.0 ports standard, a fairly solid trackpad and an excellent chiclet keyboard.

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It has been fun to discover how Chrome The operating system works on this machine and, as a regular user of Windows 10 and macOS, there really is a lot to do I like Chromebooks in general. There are also a couple of things I did not like, but I hope that Microsoft Windows Lite will take the best of Chrome OS and mix it with some unique Windows things, giving users the best of both worlds.

A cont In brief, a brief review of Chrome OS from a Windows 10 / macOS fan will be presented, and I must add that I didn't really become an advanced Chrome OS user in the two weeks since I bought this Chromebook. There are probably some things that I still have to discover in Chrome OS, but I am already convinced that Chromebooks can already meet the needs of most casual PC users. This complete article has also been written in Chrome OS, and I'm pretty sure I could do most of my work-related tasks on a Chromebook without any problem.

The good

The best thing with Chromebooks is that they are very easy to configure. I had to install a software update after unpacking mine, which did not take more than 30 minutes, but after that I simply logged in with my Gmail account and the machine was running. Google Chrome had also already synchronized all my bookmarks and extensions, and the web browser works perfectly on this Chromebook. Chrome is a key part of the Chrome operating system, and everyone who knows how to use it should have no real problem using a Chromebook.

ChromeOS has an equivalent to the Windows taskbar where you can also pin all the web applications you have. as Android and Linux applications (more on that later). As in Windows, this "Shelf" can also be moved to the left or right sides of the screen if you prefer. There is a start button in the left corner of the shelf, and an equivalent to the Windows 10 Action Center in the right corner. This section includes several quick settings, recent notifications, as well as buttons to log out and close your Chromebook.

Chrome OS notification center

Chrome OS is also delivered with a native file application to manage all your files, and puts Google's Drive Cloud storage service in front and center. This Files application can also be integrated with other cloud storage services, such as Microsoft's OneDrive, and my OneDrive folders appeared automatically once I installed the OneDrive Android application. It is also possible to access network shared files from the Files application, but I did not have the opportunity to try it on this machine.

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It's worth noting that Chromebooks should be compatible with most accessories: I could use several USB peripherals without any problems, and I also had no problems connecting to my external monitor in my desk. As in Windows, Chrome OS shows notifications every time you connect a new peripheral, and you really shouldn't get lost coming from a Windows PC.

Compared to Windows 10, I discovered that Chrome OS provides an experience without distractions. You won't see "ads" about Microsoft products or annoying comment notifications here and there, and you won't find Candy Crush, Paint 3D or other applications that you don't need to pre-install. Operating system updates follow Chrome updates and occur every six weeks or so, which is better than the two or three patches that Microsoft can release for a single version of Windows 10 each month.

Using Chrome also feels great in Chrome OS. I realized that some websites will ask you if you want to fix them in your taskbar, something you can also do with Chrome or the Chromium-based border in Windows. The result is a web application that opens in a separate window without the browser's user interface, which looks like a normal desktop application. Here is an example with the Spotify web application below.

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The use of Android or Linux applications is completely optional, but I have discovered that some Android applications can be really useful. Gmail is a pretty good email client that can sync with and Office 365 accounts, and the two-column layout works pretty well on a laptop screen. As stated earlier, installing the OneDrive application for Android will make your OneDrive folder appear in the native file application, just as it works in Windows 10 File Explorer.

Google Play Music is also a great media player on Chrome OS, especially if you have uploaded your own music collection to the service for free. The application also integrates with the notification center where you can control music playback without opening the application. Actually, there is a separate configuration application for Android applications on Chrome OS, which looks the same as the configuration application for Android. There, you can control application permissions, notifications and more, and again Android users should be very familiar with it.

Android applications are definitely nice to have on Chrome OS, especially since the Google Play Store has many more applications than Microsoft Windows 10. However, not all Android applications are compatible with Chrome OS, and some important names like OneNote or Microsoft Edge are still missing at this time.

The bad

It took Google years to bring Android applications to Chrome OS, and only recent Chromebook models are compatible with the Google Play Store. Android applications generally work well on the Chromebook I am using, but sometimes I run into failures. It is also worth mentioning that many applications are not optimized for Chromebooks, and I have also noticed some performance issues when dragging windows of Android applications to my screen.

Android applications also have some annoying limitations on Chrome OS: one of the first I have noticed that the sound coming from Android applications will stop automatically once you open a web page with background audio or any other application from Android that uses sound. It's probably a limitation of Android, but it's really strange on a non-mobile platform like Chrome OS.

Most Android applications also don't work well offline, but you can actually use some web applications in offline mode on Chrome OS. Gmail, Google Drive and Google Docs can work offline on Chrome OS, although I have had many problems enabling this on my Chromebook. The offline mode is currently enabled and requires the installation of a dedicated extension for Google Docs, and I wish this was something that Google would have made much easier to configure.

Google Drive offline

You can use Google Docs offline.

Anyway, when it works, being able to access Gmail or write documents in Google Docs without an Internet connection is quite surprising. It really demonstrates the power of the web, and I wish Microsoft would do something similar with its OneDrive and Office web applications.

The ugly

I mentioned the Chrome OS Files application before, which is pretty good, but the files The administration in Chrome OS can be quite confusing when it comes from Windows and macOS. First, there is no trash in Chrome OS, and the files you delete will disappear forever. That is a really strange limitation, and that is why Google invites users to put all their important files in Google Drive (which has an online garbage container). In addition, Google indicates that any file in the Downloads could be deleted if your Chromebook runs out of space, so the risk of losing important files should not be underestimated in a Chromebook.

In Chrome OS, it is also impossible to put or save files directly to your desktop. If you want to have a combination of folders, files and shortcuts to applications on your desktop, Chrome OS is probably not for you. Chromebooks are also not for you if you are a fan of dark themes in Windows 10 and macOS, since the option is not currently in Chrome OS.

Files app Google Drive

Last but not least, Chromebook users should know that Google will not support their devices with software updates indefinitely. According to this support page, "Google provides each new hardware platform with 6.5 years of automatic update support." That seems to be more or less in line with what Apple currently offers for its new iPhone and iPads, but people running the latest Windows 10 update on PCs of the last decade should still find that very curious, especially because Chrome OS it's a very light operating system compared to Windows 10.

There are probably many more things to say about Chrome OS, but in the end I would still recommend Chromebooks to people who really don't need a Windows PC and who prefer not to learn how to use a operating system focused on mobile devices such as the iPad. Chromebooks definitely offer a lot of value at a low price, are easier to use and compatible compared to a Windows 10 PC, and have all the applications you need thanks to Chrome, Google Play Store and Linux applications if you're in it . It took Google years to get Chromebooks to be taken seriously, and it is not clear if Microsoft will be able to achieve the same level of success with its new Windows Lite platform.

The strength of Windows remains the huge ecosystem of applications that developers have developed over the years, and Windows Lite will probably be DOA if it is not compatible with all these legacy applications. In addition, Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows 10, to a lesser extent, have shown that Windows users generally hate change, and even the rumored depreciation of Live Tiles in Windows 10 and Windows Lite already seems to be worrying news for people They liked it.

In general, this is a complicated equation to solve for Microsoft, since the company needs to compete better with Chromebooks and take Windows to more diverse form factors, but at the same time, the company cannot give up what Makes Windows the most popular desktop operating system of all time. We hope Microsoft will finally turn on our flashlights when it's ready to introduce Windows Lite, but like Windows Phone, it may be too late to compete with Google.

Additional readings: Chrome OS, Chromebooks, Google, Windows 10, Windows Lite

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