Thursday, January 1, 2015

Chrome OS — the future of personal computers is already here

Chromebooks were the best selling laptops on Amazon this holiday season.

My mom’s Windows laptop is still alive, but not kicking. The only thing she really needs is a web browser, so that’s why I thought a Chromebook would be a good idea. As a tech enthusiast, I knew about Chromebooks since the beginning and I remember people saying things like: “why would you pay for a web browser?” or “this thing only works when you’re online”. The cloud was new and because everyone was so used to Windows and its programs, it felt weird to completely get rid of them.

If you use Chrome on Windows or Mac, you know that it’s much more than a web browser. It runs web apps and a lot of them can be used offline. Most Windows software that people use can be replaced by these web apps. You can use Google Docs, but even Microsoft Office now has a web version that you can use for free. And there are super powerful apps as well like Polarr.

I wanted to know what it was like to use it as an operating system, so I ran Chromium OS on my Windows laptop, from a USB drive. The first thought I had was: this is the most user-friendly operating system I’ve ever used.

I showed it to my mom to see whether she liked it or not and we decided to get a Chromebook. The setup is really easy. It automatically checks if it has the latest version installed. I spent half a day updating my Windows 8 laptop when I got it and it was a really confusing process. You sign in with your Google account and everything is synced and downloaded in the background. So all your bookmarks and apps are already there. What’s also great is that it runs some Android apps and I expect that number to grow in the near future.

I absolutely love the simplicity of the OS. You cannot add any apps to the desktop, but that way you are always greeted by a nice photo. It’s a PC, but it’s less personal at the same time. The device itself doesn’t really matter, everything is in the cloud and that’s exactly my vision of the future. All you need is a screen and a keyboard. I think that in the future, everything, from apps to games, will run on a server and video output is sent to your device. It’s like Chrome’s remote desktop, that enables you to control your PC from a phone or tablet.

An average computer user doesn’t need a lot of programs that don’t run in a web browser and Adobe is even testing a version of Photoshop that works on a Chromebook (streamed from a server). If you want to be a part of the future, buy a Chromebook.