Chrome OS vs Windows 10 – An Analogy

The Automobile Analogy – Chrome OS vs Windows 10

Whilst comparing Chrome Os and Windows 10 I believe an automobile analogy can be useful to explain the differences between the two operating systems.

Comparing Chrome OS and Windows 10 is like comparing a Winnebago to a Mini. You see, Windows 10 is full fat, can do everything you need but has some bloat as a result. Alternatively, Chrome OS is lightweight but can’t do everything Windows can.

A Winnebago lets you to carry everything you could need for life on the road whilst getting you from A to B. Given the size of your typical Winnebago, getting around town can be slow going. Narrow, steep or congested roads can be hard work in a Winnebago due to its heft. A Mini on the other hand is great for nipping around town and getting where you need to get to. However, if you want to carry lots of stuff or spend the week sleeping in a Mini, you will have to put up with a lot of discomfort.

Windows 10 = Winnebago

Chrome OS vs Windows 10

Windows 10 is a marvelous operating system which allows endless possibilities of computer configuration and software combinations. It has a heritage which stems from the mid 1980’s and provides lots of familiarity to users of earlier versions. This flexibility and possibility has a downside. Windows 10 suffers from an update process which is frustrating as heck and requires a decent amount of computer to have it running seamlessly. When you take Windows 10 out on the road, you may also find that battery life suffers because of all of the extra work your computer needs to do to keep going.

In extreme cases, you can be dropping in excess of £2,000 to get a fully loaded power house of a laptop that can run everything under the sun, but you might end up carrying around a very heavy weight.

Chrome OS = Mini

Chrome OS vs WIndows 10 An Analogy - Mini

Chrome OS is a relative new comer to the operating system party, building upon the great work done with Linux and the Chrome browser. It is Googles web first OS which is designed to be light weight and be primarily focused on the web browsing experience. Over time, Chrome OS has evolved whilst retaining the lightweight foot print. Most updates happen within seconds, as does the power up process. You do not need a powerful or big computer to get a smooth experience and battery life tends to be excellent.

But with all the good, there are some trades. Whilst many Chromebooks allow you to install Android Apps, you do not get the full fat desktop experiences and features of Windows 10. This is fine until you need a particular feature which doesn’t exist in the web or Android Apps.

Also, if you have existing hardware, it may not be compatible with Chrome OS. Just because your device has a USB port, it doesn’t mean your scanner is going to work. You may argue the same is true of Windows 10, however I’m sure you’ll agree that if the scanner was purchased in the last few years chances are it will work.

For a while the mantra was

Chrome OS is only good for browsing the web and responding to email.

There was a lot of truth in this statement. Also,

Chrome OS is great for my parents, but not me.

For those responsible for supporting parents’ laptops Chrome OS has become a go-to option, as there is very little to go wrong. There is far more to it today than a stripped back system which just about anyone can get along with.

What Should I Get?

I’d argue that if you are after a no-nonsense device for a bit of work and play then you should seriously consider a Chromebook. Sure, you cannot install the software you may be familiar with, but do you actually need it? If you do need all of those software options and not lightweight or web versions then look at Windows 10.

Also take a look at Windows 10 if you have a stack of hardware you just cannot live without.

Be wary of choosing a budget Windows 10 device however, as you may quickly come to regret the compromises manufacturers have had to make to hit a particular price point. Whatever the limitation there will be something which has had to be cut to make a cheap device. And once you’ve sunk your hard earned dollar on a device it can be hard to go back on.

Chrome OS devices may not allow you to run everything and it may take you a little while to find your way around. But, as a lightweight low cost alternative to Windows 10, they can provide years of frustration-free service at often low entry price point.

Do You Agree?

I wrote this article to help Chrome OS users explain to the wider world how Chrome OS is different and why this can be a good thing. You may, or may not agree with the analogy, and either way I’d be keen to hear your thoughts on the subject. If you have a strong opinion please add a comment below.

  5 comments for “Chrome OS vs Windows 10 – An Analogy

  1. RMP
    19/12/2017 at 9:40 pm

    The statement that Chrome OS is “primarily focused on the web browsing experience” is inaccurate. It’s a “thin client” OS, which is another way of saying a smart terminal. Chrome OS was meant to prepare for a future in which we no longer need to download and install applications. It’s meant for interacting much more efficiently with applications that are running remotely on application servers. And a network and Chrome browser serve as the key interface for that interaction. “Browsing” implies viewing Websites that simply display formatted texts and images. Web-based services like Google Office, Google Maps, or Office 365 are very powerful, full-blown applications. But no matter how powerful and complex the application is, the typical Chrome OS user’s device is extremely inexpensive, secure, responsive, and stable compared to something like a typical PC running Windows OS.

    • Ben
      19/12/2017 at 11:42 pm

      An interesting point. ChromeOS can act as a thin client and certainly does when accessing a powerful, yet invisible back-end doing all the heavy-lifting. But how often does that happen compared to general web browsing?

      I primarily use my Chromebooks (since 2013) for web browsing and media consumption. You know, just messing around on the internet. Doesn’t everybody? Sure, I use Google Docs occasionally, or hop onto Google Maps when I’m doing a bit of a directions stalk. But I’d have to say, most of my time is spent browsing, rather than thin-clienting.

      All that said, I appreciate we might be talking semantics here so I’m prepared to accept that I’m using a thin-client to primarily browse the internet 🙂

      • RMP
        20/12/2017 at 2:33 pm

        The most awesome software ever created, with capabilities far beyond anything that they could even attempt to run on their most expensive and powerful PC, can reside on a server. But the user’s perception is that it’s “just a Website” because they didn’t have to purchase, install, and maintain it themselves. Incredibly, they click a link to access that software just fine, often free of charge, from their ***$200*** Chromebook. Like the author, we all overlook the superiority of the economic efficiency of that capability. Take your reference to Google Maps. There are several really good reasons why (while “browsing the Web”) you prefer to click on Google Maps instead of buying some huge, expensive, and far less capable map application that you would need to install directly on each of your devices.

        • Ben
          20/12/2017 at 6:39 pm

          I’ve been using Chromebooks since Christmas Day 2013 when I got my first one, a first gen HP14. Since that day, a ChromeOS device has always been my daily driver. My current Chromebooks are a Pixelbook and a first gen Asus Flip C100. Unless Google do something drastic, I should imagine I’ll be a happy Chromebook user for years to come. But I do still own and use a Windows machine. I have an ageing, but still very capable Lenovo Thinkpad x220 running Windows 10, and I do still very occasionally use it for when only an .exe install will do etc. It’s also handy as a sort of Google Cloud Print server for an old Canon printer I run that’s not cloud capable itself but accepts cheap, non-OEM ink cartridges.

          I guess what I’m saying is, I’m all-in to the Google ecosystem. My phone is a Pixel 2 and a cheapo Wileyfox Android. I own a Google Home Mini and several Chromecasts. I’m a power user from an IT support background and understand how the IT world works, though I’m no abject expert.

          So I very much appreciate the ‘economic efficiency’ of what Google offer 🙂

          Google Maps, Google Drive and Docs etc are all fabulous as well. And you’re right. I use them because they’re awesome and ‘free’. Of course, ‘free’ as in I don’t have to give anyone money to use them. I realise that part of the deal when using Google products for free is that they’re not really free. I know Google are making a tidy sum selling all my private but anonymised data to their ad partners. I’ve always wondered how much my data is worth. Have you? A discussion for another day 🙂

          I also think all we’ve discussed here is also probably outside of the scope of the high-level thought piece that the author posted. And frankly, invisible and irrelevant to the average computer user who couldn’t care less as long as their computer does everything they need it to do. In a way, a thought-piece like this can plant an idea in a buyer’s mind, enlighten them to the high-level differences, and then the buyer can then do their own research and fill in the blanks and decide what’s best for themselves. I think that’s all that’s being said here.

          • 21/12/2017 at 10:02 am

            I agree with you both. Whether you prefer to use the term thin client, cloud computing, web browsing or whatever is up to you. I prefer web browsing as it is the most inclusive term and doesn’t hint at other technologies – i.e. thin client = Terminal Services / Citrix etc…

            I do not believe web browsing is playing down the amazing stuff that happens in the back end, merely placing the emphasis on the mechanism (a web browser) used by many to consume services.

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