Modern offices are not confined to one building. Many enterprises have offices scattered around the world. Not to mention, computers and the internet have afforded many employees the opportunity to work from home. This enables people to spend more time with their family -- something desperately needed in the USA nowadays, as people are working more hours than ever.
One of the most popular solutions for screen-sharing, communication and remote meetings is Cisco's Webex. Unfortunately, most businesses use the service on Windows machines -- Chromebooks are not supported. Well, at least they weren't -- today Google announces a proof-of-concept, which shows Webex running on Chrome OS. This is yet another instance of Google eating away at Microsoft's stronghold on the enterprise.
Choosing the right computer for a task can be tricky. If you spend too little money, you may buy an under-powered machine with poor performance. Conversely, if you spend too much, you may end up with too much power, effectively wasting money. Finding the balance is key.
Chromebooks and Chromeboxes are all the rage lately -- they are great computers if they meet your needs. For many businesses, they would be a bad choice. You see, the firms may need Microsoft Office and other specialized software, which will not run on Google's Chrome OS. However, if your needs are browser-based, it is a great choice. One such company, Concord Hospitality, is utilizing Chromeboxes with great results.
I'm not going to rehash all of the reasons Microsoft has to show concern over rival Chrome OS, but now Google is providing one more to add to that list. It's not major, and likely won't sway someone's decision towards a Chromebook, but it heaps another straw onto the camel's back.
The search giant is offering a 60-day free trial of its Google Music All Access, which normally costs users $9.99 per month -- or $7.99 if you got in very early, as I did.
Early this evening, I exchanged emails with someone writing a blog post about Chromebook. He seeks sales numbers that I doubt are available. Success is a difficult measure despite the hype. In January post "The trouble with new Chromebooks" here and "Twenty-Fourteen isn't Year of the Chromebook" on my personal site, I raise questions about the computer's future.
I extend reservations in the text of my email reply, which follows.
Google's Chromebooks are becoming synonymous with education. Schools are embracing them for the low cost and ease of use. It's hard to argue with that, but I am dubious that it is the best choice for students.
A Windows PC is still the best option for readying a student for the world of business. Outlook, Excel, Access -- these are the programs that a future successful person will learn. Today, Dell announces a new laptop that is focused on education and gives Chromebook a run for its money -- the Latitude 13 Education Series.
My first-ever Chromebook was a Samsung. The 11.6-inch laptop was inexpensive and revolutionary. Heck, it looked like a plasticy Macbook Air -- very sexy. However, all that glitters is not gold. While my relationship with the laptop started strong, the dual-core ARM processor and paltry 2GB of ram proved underpowered. Pages would load slowly, and the lag could be extremely frustrating.
While many people think of Chrome OS as being just a web browser, remember, it is actually a Linux distribution running a web browser. The more RAM the better, with 4GB being the bare minimum for an enjoyable experience. Today, Samsung announces two new ARM-based Chromebooks to serve as a follow-up to the original. Not only is the RAM increased, but the CPU is supercharged too.
Linux is on a roll lately, as Android and Chromebooks continue to gain marketshare. While this should be a win for the open-source community, many purists do not consider Android or Chrome OS to truly be Linux. Of course this is not true, as both operating systems utilize the Linux kernel. However, I understand where Google detractors are coming from; a distribution like Ubuntu is more the traditional approach to using the kernel.
While I too love Ubuntu, I am not a fan of Unity. While I do not hate Canonical's environment, I simply prefer and adore GNOME 3. Today, the first Beta of Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 is here. It's time to brush off that DVD burner, and write that .ISO!
Today, at ZDNET, James Kendrick's commentary "Chromebooks and students: Long term trouble for Microsoft" adds to a growing meme. With a few schools deploying Chromebooks (emphasis few) and rumors Microsoft has slashed Windows licensing fees (remember unconfirmed), recurring theme "2014 is year of the Chromebook and Windows is in deep dodo because of it" isn't surprising. But just because bloggers say something's true often enough, doesn't make it that way. Twenty fourteen isn't year of the Chromebook, nor is its utility to the education market guaranteed.
That said, Kendrick makes some good points about why Chromebook appeals to students. I won't recap them. This isn't an aggregated synopsis. You can read his fine points. My post adds to them, from experience. I am a long-time Chromebook user.
According to reports, Microsoft is set to slash the price it charges OEMs for Windows 8.x. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to pick up a copy of the tiled OS for any cheaper, but it does mean significant savings for (some) PC builders.
At the moment, Microsoft charges all OEMs $50 per copy of Windows 8. The price cut will see this license figure reduced by 70 percent to $15 per copy. However, there is a caveat -- it will only apply to devices that will be sold for $250 or less at retail. In other words, Microsoft is hoping to kick start a run of lower-priced PCs, in an effort to compete with Chromebooks.
Chromebooks may be increasing in popularity, particularly in business, but they still have a long way to go before they catch up with Windows-based laptops. One of the factors holding back Chromebook is, both obviously and ironically, Chrome OS. It is a perfectly capable operating system for anyone locked into the Google ecosystem, but it has one failing -- for many people, at least -- it will not run Windows applications. But all this is set to change thanks to a new venture between Google and VMware.
VWmare is a name long-associated with bringing one platform's apps to another using virtualization, and now it is pushing its DaaS platform (or VMware Horizon Desktop as a Service Platform for Service Providers to give it its full, unabridged title) as a way to bring Windows applications to Chromebook users. As this is something that will be available on a subscription basis, it is likely to appeal to businesses rather than individuals, but it does break down another obstacle for anyone with two minds about Chromebook.
Firefox is my favorite browser, but I don't use it. While that sounds crazy, and it sort of is, there is a method to my madness. You see, Google Chrome utilizes Google accounts, which makes my life easier.
By utilizing Google accounts, Chrome can sync across multiple devices -- that includes things like bookmarks and passwords. And so, the convenience of Chrome caused me to abandon my trusty Firefox. Luckily, Mozilla is looking to bring parity with all-new Firefox Accounts.
Actual, real-life meetings are just so passé! In fact I have hardly met up with any of the people I work with in person -- we are living in the digital age, man! But the likes of Skype and FaceTime show that there is still an interest, even a need, for virtual face-to-face time, and this is particularly true for businesses. Conference calls are easy to set up on the phone, but there are times when it really does help to see what’s going on at the other end. Today Google takes the wraps off its solution: Chromebox for meetings.
As you would expect from Google, and probably guess from the name, this is a box running ChromeOS. Powered by a 4th generation Intel Core i7 processor, there are four USB 3.0 ports as well as HDMI and DisplayPort++ connections, and network connectivity is provided by an Ethernet port as well as an 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi adaptor. Also provided is an HD camera, a mic and speaker combo, and a remote control.
It is no secret that Microsoft is feeling threatened by Chromebooks and Chrome OS. A series of controversial ads which disparage the pair has already proved that. But when will the software giant stop playing the same old broken record that implies only Windows PCs are good enough to get real work done and Chromebooks are not?
Microsoft downplays Chromebooks due to their alleged inability to get "much done" without an Internet connection and without access to its own Office suite. This is the theme that Microsoft has used (and repeatedly abused before) to pitch Windows 8.1 in a new video advert. Seriously? How can a company that prides itself for its cloud services use those two arguments in 2014? Is that not the definition of hypocrisy?
One of the most endearing things about Chrome OS is that it is very secure. Say what you want about it being nothing more than a browser. In reality, it is a Linux distribution where the user cannot install native software locally. The web-based nature of the OS makes it ideal for banking or accessing secure data. After all, without the possibility of installing software, the computer should be immune to malware.
I should watch my words because, the word "immune" simply makes the malware writers start salivating. After all, the belief that anything is 100-percent safe is the most dangerous thing of all. Not to mention, recently discovered rogue Chrome Extensions can be viewed as a form of malware. With that said, Google is challenging the world's best hackers to try and find holes in its Chromebooks. The carrot for which it dangles is a very healthy $2.71828 million!
The Chromebook platform is steadily growing and one of the latest arrivals in this market comes from Toshiba. The hardware maker unveiled its offering during the recent CES 2014 show in Las Vegas, but the notebook wasn’t available at the time of the reveal.
Now the Toshiba Chromebook is up for pre-order on Amazon for $279.99. The device boasts an Intel Celeron 2955U 1.4 GHz processor, 2 GB of RAM, a 16 GB SSD for storage and 13.3-inch screen. The company promises nine hours of battery life.