06 January 2020

Android Police: “Chrome OS has stalled out”

A lack of native applications may be Chrome’s biggest structural problem in the long term, but in the here and now, the Chrome team has simply failed to innovate in ways that the platform so desperately needs to remain competitive with Windows and Mac OS.

Where is biometric support (we got it on the Pixel Slate, but nowhere else)? Desktop customization? Where are LTE Chromebooks? HDR? Phone notification mirroring (really, any meaningful phone integration)? Dual booting (cancelled)? Network-attached storage? A remotely passable file directory? A dark theme (soon, allegedly)? Even rudimentary video or audio editing? The fact is, laptops aren’t something everybody has anymore—phones have filled that need for many, many people. Those that are buying laptops are using them much more as tools than they were when Chrome OS debuted 10 years ago. But Chromebooks just aren’t very good tools.

I say this even as one of the few people who can do 95% of my job on a Chromebook: that 5%, when you really, really need it, is more than enough reason to avoid a platform entirely. And for many others, it’s much more than 5%: it’s their entire workflow.

David Ruddock

Signs that Chrome OS – and Chromebooks – isn’t getting traction were there all along, but Google and their supporters chose to ignore them. Building a new OS from the ground up is immensely challenging; unfortunately Google’s attention span is quite short, resulting in many changes to product roadmaps, products being suddenly abandoned, others reworked numerous times for no obvious reasons.

In this case, the whole premise of a web-based OS was lacking, its scope too narrow: between people with specific computing needs, which the web couldn’t handle well or at all, and people with generic needs, who were best served by smartphone apps, there was not enough room for a new OS to establish itself. I suspect some Googlers quietly realized this and decided it’s simply not worth the effort to bring Chrome OS at a competitive level with fully-fledged desktop operating systems.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2020
Available sometime in the first quarter of 2020, the Galaxy Chromebook will start at $999

Update: related: Microsoft’s Surface Pro X is the world’s most extravagant Chromebook… that doesn’t run Chrome OS.

Microsoft accidentally made a great Chromebook

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