Can you live with Google's Chrome OS? gHacks find out

Mike Halsey MVP
Aug 10, 2011
Updated • Mar 19, 2015

Today I took delivery of a review Samsung Series 5 Chromebook, one of the first of the new breed of netbook running Google's Chrome operating system.  I'll write up a full review of the machine next week but it's only fair that I try an experiment and see if I can actually live with Chrome OS as my primary operating system.

Most of us live in our browsers and perform 90% of our computer-based activities either in the browser itself on in an app that replicates something you can do in a browser, such as Windows Live Mail or Tweetdeck. It stands to reason then that an operating system into which there isn't any actual installable software, with the exception of some browser plug-ins from the Chrome OS App Store, is one that the average user would be happy with for around 90% of the time.

Well I'm a dedicated Windows user and generally not a huge fan of Google.  That aside though I'm going to give it my best try to live with Chrome OS as my primary operating system for the next week.

chromebook Samsung

I'm starting right now, writing this article on the Chromebook in a browser that has tabs open for my email and social networking, so I'm off to a good start.  Do I see any problems though? Well currently I'm working on a document in Microsoft Publisher.  Sadly there's no online equivalent to this software from Microsoft, Google or any other company so I might have to revert to the PC for just doing that job for a few hours and music might be an issue.  There's no in-built media player in Chrome OS but I could try Spotify and see how I get on with it.

Initial impressions of Chrome OS are good though, and so far I like it.  It's not perfect and it's clear to see where it can be improved (malware protection and better accessibility options jump out at me as being the most obvious).  Generally though the overall experience with Chrome OS, given that I've not been using it for very long, is very positive.

So I'll feed back to you next week just what its like living with a Chromebook.  In the mean time though it would be interesting to hear from all of you who own one what your experiences of it are, and if you've managed to switch to it.

Can you live with Google’s Chrome OS? gHacks find out
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Can you live with Google’s Chrome OS? gHacks find out
How good is Google's Chrome OS? We try to find that out in a self-experiment limiting us to a Chrome OS device for a week.

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  1. wangxy said on August 11, 2011 at 5:41 am

    I can live with Chrome OS, but I can live without as well. I don’t see edges from Chrome OS over a certain lightweight Linux distribution such as lubuntu.
    However, your example of MS Publisher is obviously a bad example. We don’t need MS Publisher to live; only a very small number of people need it in their work. You should have been very well aware that no immediate equivalent of MS Publisher is available in other platforms than MS(though you can likely find something to accomplish the tasks), so I can not help wondering why you use it as an example.

  2. Jojo said on August 10, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    But Chrome isn’t an OS. This is really a browser (Chrome) running under Linux (OS), no?

    Writing a browser is one thing. Writing a real OS is quite another.

    1. Mike Halsey (MVP) said on August 10, 2011 at 10:37 pm

      @Jojo, This is an interesting question. By your definition Ubuntu and Red Hat aren’t operating systems either because they’re “running under Linux”. I take your point though that Chrome OS is merely a subset of the full Linux functions. Does this mean it’s a lesser OS or just a targeted OS? Ultimately consumers will decide I think.


  3. KoalaBear said on August 10, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    No, I couldn’t. And I think most software developers also couldn’t.

    What I miss the most is local and fast disk access. Only web apps is not enough for me.

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