Will Chrome OS Ever Replace Windows In Enterprise Environments?

    February 11, 2014
    Zach Walton
    Comments are off for this post.

In 2011, Google launched the first Chromebooks – a laptop featuring Google’s very own Chrome OS. The machines and accompanying operating system were marketed as an affordable alternative to Windows for those who use computers to browse the Web and nothing more. Since then, Google has become a bit more ambitious with Chrome OS and its recent moves make it seem as if the company is targeting Windows.

Do you think Chrome OS will replace Windows in enterprise markets? Will you make the switch? Let us know in the comments.

In early February, Google announced a new product called Chromebox for Meetings. The hardware bundle includes a mini-desktop PC running Chrome OS, a microphone, a HD camera and a remote. In short, Google wants businesses to use this new product for video conferencing.

The Chromebox for Meetings is a bold move considering that a lot of businesses are still using Skype to hold video meetings. The Microsoft-owned company relies heavily on the fact that many businesses either operate on Windows or Mac OS X, and that easily allows said companies to integrate Skype into their business. With free Skype to Skype video calls, it makes collaboration through video easy and affordable.

So, what does Google offer differently with Chromebox? For starters, Chromebox for Meetings is made to accommodate both large and small meetings with support for up to 15 participants. Those participants can join in a call with their laptops, tablets or smartphones as well ensuring that everybody can join the meeting.

Another key difference is its size. The Chromebox is much smaller than even your mini-Windows desktop. The size allows it to be easily moved between rooms if your business calls for that sort of thing. The size also means it draws a lot less power than a traditional Windows desktop.

Perhaps the most important distinction, however, is its simplicity. Chrome OS has always prided itself on being a plug-and-play operating system and the Chromebox for Meetings claims to be no different. Google says you just need to plug in a display, complete a set up wizard and you’re good to go. That kind of simplicity can not be overstated in an enterprise environment where complexity can lead to a wasted day of setup.

Of course, Chromebox for Meetings isn’t the only product Google is using to target enterprise markets. The company has positioned its Chromebook as the perfect enterprise computer since their launch in 2011. It’s only been seen as such a replacement in recent months, however, with an NPD report from last month stating that Chromebooks made up 21 percent of all notebook sales in 2013. Furthermore, Chromebooks were the only computers to see growth in a market where sales of Windows-based PCs are stalled and Apple-based computers are falling.

Hardware is only a small part of a successful enterprise product. Microsoft’s success in the sector can be largely attributed to its range of products, like Office and Excel. Google has an answer for this as well with its Google Enterprise lineup of products, like Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs and Hangouts.

Google Enterprise also features services that are invaluable to the modern business. Products like Map Engine allow businesses to visualize their data using Google Maps. App Engine and Compute Engine give businesses the power of Google’s architecture to process data – big and small.

While that’s all well and good, it’s probably still not enough to convince the business that’s been with Windows for years to make the switch. For that, Microsoft is doing a good enough job itself in convincing businesses to switch to Chrome OS.

As you are probably well aware, Microsoft is finally ending extended support for Windows XP in April. Most of the world’s businesses are still using the decade-old operating system and will need something to replace it once Microsoft stops supporting it. While some companies will no doubt move to Windows 7 or 8, it’s not as simple for others. The size of its operation coupled with the cost of upgrading and training for a new version of Windows makes upgrading to Windows 7 or 8 almost impossible for some enterprise customers.

Google knows this and is already advertising Chrome OS as the affordable alternative to Windows for enterprise customers. Heck, just look at this recent advertisement is posted to its Google Plus page:

While the ad is mainly about Google’s decision to support the Chrome browser on XP through 2015, it’s intention is clear. It wants businesses to start using Chrome on Windows XP as a way to mitigate threats from malware, but it’s pretty obvious that Google is using Chrome as a gateway drug to get businesses hooked on Chrome OS.

With all that being said, there’s one major caveat for a business to consider. Do your employees use applications that run on traditional desktop environments? If so, you’re going to want to stick with Windows. Chrome OS is a Web-based operating system and all applications built for it run on the Web. More and more applications are making the switch to HTML5 and other Web technologies though. Within a few years, the desktop applications your employees now use may run on the Web with no problem making Chrome OS a far more attractive option.

Windows or Chrome OS – that’s the question that will be facing more businesses as Windows XP support ends in just a few months. While businesses can continue using Windows XP until 2015 without fear of malware, they’ll want to make the switch as soon as possible. During that time, you can expect Google to heavily market products towards the enterprise as a way to entice them over to Chrome OS. The Chromebox for meetings is just the latest product to do so, and you can probably expect a lot more in the coming year.

Will your business make the move to Chrome OS this year? Or are you sticking with Windows? Let us know in the comments.

Image via Google Enterprise/YouTube

  • revben

    Service unique to google? So you have not heard of Windows Azure I guess and power bi and office 365. So google is urging business off xp, while microsoft is in redmond smoking cigar and cigar. And i guess despise decling pc sales, microsoft did not see a rise in commerical pc liscense. Oh well google is the only one making moves, meanwhile bing stock is rising.

    • zachwalton25

      I definitely could have phrased that better. I'll make a change to make it so that it doesn't sound like data processing is unique to Google.

  • jacob
  • Dedee Clancey

    If you make less than five thou bucks a month you need to see the report jobszzdotcom

  • Mike Hannon

    Though Linux is undoubtedly a better choice than Windows, why would a business choose Chrome OS over other, more full scale Linux operating systems?

    • Mike Hannon

      In fact I'll go further… This article suggests that Windows and Chrome OS are the only choices available to businesses, which is absolutely wrong. I can't understand why Chrome OS would even be considered over other OSs which offer as much to businesses as Windows. Operating systems like Ubuntu aren't the poor man's OS. They have greater security and stability, offer practically all the tools for business Windows does, can still run efficiently on older hardware, and are free.

  • Digby Green

    Stop using such lame headings as "Will…."
    You are the Blogger, You tell us.

    • http://rogersparkbench.blogspot.com/ Tom Mannis

      Uhm, he told you.

  • jon

    Nope – I am a business owner and I try to pay Google as little revenue
    as I can. I dont like them they are too powerful and get more like Big
    Brother every day. I seriously look at all alternatives before spending
    money with Google and I will continue to favour healthy competition to
    Google's world domination initiative whenever I can see an opportunity
    to do so.

    • Michael Wilson

      google is too powerful and more like big brother? did you know that big brother still sees, hears everything you do just as easy when you use windows. so tell me how microsoft isn't big brother too?

  • http://terryjett.com/ Terry

    Not sure Chrome OS will ever be any real threat to Windows.

    Google crew starts things, abandons them or let's them drift off into stoney land. Reminds me of a kid with a new Christmas toy, they tire of it and start playing with the box.

    Don't get me wrong, I am a avid Google user but, never 100% rely on them if it has to do with my daily business. May wake up one morning and they decide to close up something.

    • Michael Wilson

      chrome os is a threat to windows. i stopped using windows 3 years ago and have not looked back. i use ubuntu on my home pc and i have an android tablet and a chrome book. i see no reason why i need t even look at anything windows again for the rest of my life.

  • Frank

    Is Chrome an OS? It may boot a cpu up but that's about it. 99.9% of anything and everything you want to has to be done on the web which means you need connectivity. Not a great problem? Well for a lot of people actually it is. MS is ending support for XP – so what? Will it suddenly stop working? Will all the AV packages out there say 'MS is no longer supporting XP, so we'll stop as well'. People, get real – Although I don't use it much, I still have a box running W98 – only there because my A3 scanner only works on W98, but the point is that it still works and does the job. My company will not be changing from XP until we can no longer get hardware to work with it. To that end we have invested in motherboards and CPU's to make sure that we will stay as we are for many years to come.

  • Michael Wilson

    i don't understand why people still use windows. linux is much better and safer and free! omg!

  • Harald

    Hey guys, anybody out there old enough to remember our complaints about Microsoft's data gathering in their earlier years? All our doubts about what our Windows had sent to Microsoft whenever it was allowed to go online? All our fears about Microsoft's Big Brother behaviour? Who now really thinks about switching over to a Google product must have lost even the last grain of common sense. This is far worse than simply replacing one evil with another!!!