Most of us have learnt the ropes of personal computers on Microsoft Windows, a further few swear by the Apple operating system (OS), so is there really any place for a third player in this massive market of OS for home computers that is largely duopolistic today? History tells us the answer is ‘no’, unless the new competitor offers an experience that is generations ahead. Linux has tried for many years to break into this lucrative stronghold—what it offered was an open-source platform that any developer could build on further, but at best it claimed a minor market share, finding favour mostly with tech geeks.
But there is a new challenger in this market now, and it is not to be taken lightly since its older sibling has already captured a lion’s share of the mobile/smartphone OS market—we are talking of the Google Android for home computers, the Chrome OS. A brand largely made famous for being an efficient internet browser, the Chrome OS is not entirely very new, it has been in the market since mid-2011 but it is really spreading its wings now through dedicated laptops/netbooks aka ‘Chromebooks’ built by Acer or Samsung. In this space today, we review both the Chrome OS experience as well as the Acer C720, a light Chromebook that hopes to offer a strong alternative to the many netbooks in the market today.
The biggest difference with Chrome and other OS is that it is completely cloud-based. What that means is that you have to have three things to use the Chromebook; a Google ID that nearly everyone has today, an internet connection at every location and lastly, a wireless modem because the Acer C720 does not offer a LAN port. The Chromebook cannot be used in an offline mode for most things. It also offers only 16 GB of storage space on the device, for the rest you get 100 GB of online storage on Google Drive for a period of two years—I have no idea what you would do if you want to keep the Chromebook for longer.
Everything else is web-based, the Google Docs office suite includes utilities for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, while similar to smartphones more apps can be downloaded for photo editing and even games. The look of the OS is similar to Windows yet different, so there is a bar at the bottom for all the programs/apps being run,