Chrome OS has been steadily gaining popularity over the past few years. It was a slow start, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that Chromebooks will be ubiquitous within two or three years. I’m going to talk about one deviously clever ways that Google is pushing the Chrome OS agenda, and using new Windows 8 computers and tablets, no less.
Google’s minimalistic Chrome OS answers the desperate need of today’s computer users for a device that will flawlessly browse the web, won’t get viruses, and won’t slow down at an affordable price. Two side-effects of the operating system being almost exclusively a web browser are that it is, first, beautifully simplistic, and second, thoroughly misunderstood.
Being conservative, we’ll say 90% of people would be able to seamlessly transfer their daily computing needs from a Windows PC to a Chromebook or other Chrome powered device and never feel limited by the more web-centric and clutter-less nature. Because the truth is that in our Facebook and Netflix age, normal users just don’t need Windows.
One of the first, if not the first, web browser to be available across the majority of operating systems, both mobile and traditional, Chrome allows syncing of preferences, saved form information, bookmarks, and even downloaded extensions across any devices which supports them. Meaning when you install Chrome, all you have to do is sign into your Google account and viola! It’s just like using your home computer.
Windows 8 Mode
I should preface this section by explaining that I’m not a Windows user, haven’t been for quite sometime. Linux, Android, and Chrome OS are the operating systems on which I call daily. But having received a Windows tablet for review, I made the most of the situation, and in doing so I found something absolutely genius!
Windows 8 has two interfaces for many of the applications, desktop mode and Windows 8 mode, The former is what you have become used to in all prior Windows distributions, it looks like a normal desktop computer. The latter is an alternate interface in which you can launch compatible programs for the best touch-screen optimizations. Buttons and text fields are larger to accommodate finger touch, and the application is automatically full-screen with no option to change the size or shape of the window.
Chrome can’t be launched in Windows 8 mode on all machines. (Check out this section from Google’s support to see how to try and if not, this article on OMGChrome will explain why not.) If you’ve ever used a Chrome OS device, you’ll notice something strikingly familiar when you launch Chrome in Windows 8 mode the first time.
Google has sneaked their full-featured Chrome OS into the Windows application. You’re even able to have multiple windows open and tile or cascade them in the Chrome OS style launcher. There doesn’t seem to be any differences between the Windows 8 mode of Google Chrome and the actual Chrome OS on my HP Chromebook 14.
But why? Is this just Google wanting a uniform experience across multiple platforms? Or is this Google giving people a glimpse of what they could be using? If a Chrome user has familiarized themselves with all of the available features of the Windows 8 mode in Google Chrome, the next time they’re at Best Buy idly fingering the touch-pads of the display laptops, not shopping, but not not shopping, they’ll see something familiar. The Chromebook will feel comfortable and homey, and “Look at how fast it is! Is this Windows? It’s only $200?!”
You can see where this is leading. But what do you think? Will this drive sales of Chromebooks? Will it at least get more people to look at them seriously? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @AnthonyMcAfee.