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Why You Should Worry About the Future of Chromebooks

Soulskill posted 1 year,22 days | from the software-as-hardware dept.

Google 216

dcblogs writes "PC manufacturers may try to corral Chromebook, much like Netbooks, by setting frustratingly low hardware expectations. The systems being released from HP, Acer, Lenovo and Samsung are being built around retro Celeron processors and mostly 2 GB of RAM. By doing so, they are targeting schools and semi-impulse buyers and may be discouraging corporate buyers from considering the system. Google's Pixel is the counter-force, but at a price of $1,299 for the Wi-Fi system, reviewers, while gushing about hardware, believe it's too much, too soon. The Chromebook is a threat to everything, especially PC makers, as its apps improve. Compare Tweetdeck's HTML5 version with its native app. Can you tell the difference? It might be a year or two before Adobe delivers Web-only versions of its products, but if it doesn't it will be surrendering larger portions of its mindshare to users of Pixlr, Pixel Mixer, PicMonkey and many other interesting and increasingly capable tools."

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Yes (5, Interesting)

errandum (2014454) | 1 year,22 days | (#43342745)

And then when it fails to bring money it gets discontinued. And you have a very expensive paperweight... Google Reader was an eye opener. Depending on a third party for core functionality is something I'll be avoiding from now one, since you never know...

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43342879)

It's not just profit, it's being able to sell them and manage inventory.

I needed a simple laptop for traveling on weekends. Web, email, some code/text editing and SFTP. A Chromebook seemed like a perfect choice. At my age my eyes couldn't use one of the 11.6 in screens so I wanted to get the HP model (14"). I just couldn't order one because it was always out of stock. I ordered another Linux laptop instead (an extra $100 but obviously much more than $100 worth of functionality).

Re:Yes (5, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | 1 year,22 days | (#43342883)

Other than Chromebooks can run full Linux. So it will never be totally worthless.

Re:Yes (1, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343171)

Instead of chromebooks why not run a Android gain a touch screen screen and add a bluetooth keyboard and be done with it.

when chromebook concept first came out it was good. it just took 3 years longer to get to the market than it should have and android tablet can beat it in every way.

Re:Yes (3, Insightful)

Tacticus.v1 (1102137) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343593)

Because android isn't that nice at providing a good desktop environment.
the chromebook with normal nix running on it would allow much better interaction.
I say this as someone with a very nice nexus 7 and an android phone.

Though take the arm chip out of the nexus 10 and give me a linux laptop with the chromebook pixels monitor\keyboard and most importantly battery :)

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43343739)

Because android isn't that nice at providing a good desktop environment.

Neither is Widows 8, but that didn't stop Microsoft.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43343247)

Other than Chromebooks can run full Linux.

Well, yeah, but then you've got a Linux machine with a puny hard disk (that's the whole point of Chromebooks, right? no local storage). By the time you're done swapping the hard disk, you'd be wondering why you didn't just buy a real laptop to begin with.

Re:Yes (1, Flamebait)

Hadlock (143607) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343271)

You must have a pile of money you're just aching to get rid of if you need to keep investing in things that are only "mostly worthless".
Google can go fuck themselves, free email is pretty awesome, but if you can't rely on the services that connect to it to be around in five years, there's no reason why I can't privatize my email on a portable cloud instance somewhere else. I don't even use Google Reader, but it's clear that the idea* that "you can trust your data with Google forever" is dead. Spending additional money for worse lock in than an Apple product? No thanks!
*ignoring the flaws in this line of thought

Re:Yes (2)

gagol (583737) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343431)

Gmail and Google Reader are two different beasts. Gmail is used as the primary authentication of many, many Google services and provides its parent company with much more detailed profile of users than what feed you read... Just saying.

Re:Yes (4, Interesting)

Shoten (260439) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343633)

Gmail and Google Reader are two different beasts. Gmail is used as the primary authentication of many, many Google services and provides its parent company with much more detailed profile of users than what feed you read... Just saying.

Actually, the authentication system used by Gmail is the primary authentication of many, many Google services. That's a whole different animal from Gmail itself, and it's very easy to cut loose a massive email system but keep the authentication infrastructure, especially when you developed both of them to begin with. You have a point about the detailed profile of users...but that's a double-edged sword. Google has been, I feel, under a level of scrutiny that I think is out of proportion with how they actually treat private data. All that it would take is a scandal (either at Google or at some similar service) and all of a sudden that one value they get out of Gmail could be taken away from them. Then what?

Anyone here remember Juno? Just saying.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43343641)

Gmail is NOT used for authentication. Google Accounts is. Gmail authenticates through Google Accounts, like ALL other Google services.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43343997)

Any Mac/PC can run "full Linux". Why waste money on Google's experiment?

Re:Yes (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43342899)

If you think Google Reader's cancellation is in any sense a useful indicator of the future of Chrome OS or Google Drive, you're not really paying attention.

Re:Yes (1)

jaymz666 (34050) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343365)

tweetdeck for chrome is lacking many features of the AIR app for windows. Such as a list of trending topics as a pane you can select, so you can see them all the time. How stupid

Re:Yes (1)

erroneus (253617) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343437)

Well, I am not so sure the future is quite the same.

I think that, first of all, Chromebooks should be running or have available to them, Android apps. A quick google search shows this is presently not the case. (I did not look any deeper than the first few responses) And, of course, they should have touch screens to support Android better.

This makes it a tablet with a keyboard... which is not a tablet but still, you get the idea. Then the low specs won't mean as much and people will want them more.

Yes, PC makers at the request (requirement) of Microsoft will not want to allow competing anything. But that's okay. The public is more willing to use internet appliance devices now. I don't know about anyone else, but I still have my two Dell Mini 9s... my wife has been using hers for years. Netbooks are useful too.

Anyway, I think the public is more willing than they were before, but putting Android on them will be a big help.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43343491)

Yes, but isn't Chromium, the foundation of Chrome, Chrome OS, and Chromium OS, open source? Any worry that could apply to dropped support on Chrome OS would be as valid as worrying that Windows might drop support for the desktop environment.

Re:Yes (4, Funny)

mspohr (589790) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343609)

You bought Google Reader Hardware?... and now have an expensive paperweight?
I'll buy it from you to put in my museum.

Re:Yes (4, Insightful)

Qwavel (733416) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343833)

Comparing Google's Chromebooks to Reader is silly.

For one thing, Chrome and Chromebooks are central to Google's future.

And for all the fuss about Reader (i'm a heavy user myself) switching away from Reader has been dead simple since it is just a viewer based around a standard protocol. Google turfing it was annoying at most, and no indication that they will kill off their core initiatives.

OMG The Sky is Falling! (2, Insightful)

Elgonn (921934) | 1 year,22 days | (#43342751)

Lighten up people. The world isn't going to fall into some permanent software as a service hellscape.

Re:OMG The Sky is Falling! (5, Interesting)

safetyinnumbers (1770570) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343215)

It used to be that I'd use a web browser for websites and specialized applications to access other services like email and newsgroups.

Now I read my email in a browser, but websites are always asking me to install an app to view them!

If that isn't a sign of the end-times, what is?

Re:OMG The Sky is Falling! (1)

gagol (583737) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343447)

+1^Googleplex Funny and true...

Re:OMG The Sky is Falling! (2)

Sponge Bath (413667) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343319)

...software as a service hellscape.

Orifice365 ? That's unpossible!

Re:OMG The Sky is Falling! (1)

gagol (583737) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343477)

BackOrifice... the perfect tool to freak out your room mate in at the end of last century... ah! the memories...

Re:OMG The Sky is Falling! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43343321)

Oh it certainly will, but it will be because of Microsoft and Adobe wanting monthly fees or they discontinue your access to their software and YOUR documents. Things will have to get amazingly stupid before SaaS gets kicked to the curb and we go back to pay-one-expensive-price-once.

Google is not a reliable company when it comes to SaaS, we know this. Gmail is slowly removing features and making them pay-only. Yahoo tried this a decade ago and the result was everyone switched to Gmail and dropped Yahoo and all it's services.

Google currently only does three things right that 'everyone' uses
1. Google Search
2. Youtube
3. Gmail

Unfortunately Google is trying to merge all these products into G+ and the end result is I don't want my ****ing name attached to all my google searches and youtube comments thank you very much. Google is actively telling people to stop using their products at every turn.

Google has so far failed on the hardware front, not as spectacularly as Microsoft, but they aren't promising perpetual updates like Apple (eg we keep updating your product until the hardware specs do not allow it) does either. Google needs to pretty much guarantee that they will not discontinue updating any hardware they produce or licence for 7 years or I'm not going to even consider it.

Every gadget I have must still work after 7 years. That's all I ask. I can turn on my 2G 1900Mhz Motorola GSM cell phone from 2004 that has a NiMH battery and it will not work, but I can turn on a Nokia with a LiION battery from that same year and it will. I've kept buying Nokia for just that reason up until the N95 which I'm still using. I only change phones when the underlying technology changes (For the Nokia that was 2G GSM, 2G EDGE, 3G (UMTS)) I waited to buy an iPad until there was a LTE model. I'm waiting to buy an iPhone when a VoLTE model becomes available.

Other devices I still have kicking around
Nintendo GBA clamshell (Waited for redesign)
Nintendo DS Lite (I skipped the DS, knowing that Nintendo would redesign it)
Nintendo 3DS (Waited for a price drop, didn't wait for redesign)
Xbox 360S (waited for redesign)
PS2 slim (waited for redesign)
Nintendo GameCube
Nintendo Wii

I opted not to buy the PS3, holding out for a PS3 redesign that would play PS2 games. Looks like that is not happening, not even with the PS4. The Xbox Durango I'm waiting 2 years before considering to make sure there's no RROD-like situation again.

But the PS4 and the Xbox Live is going all SaaS so I'm probably going to skip these consoles in the end. Unless by some miracle any/all the games can be played with one monthly subscription. I'd rather spend that money and build a new gaming rig. My current one is 5 years old (amazing how desktop games have been held back by consoles yet again.)

To come back to the OP's article though, the problem we're facing is that hardware development has stagnated since the Pentium 4. There's no Ghz race anymore, so everything has to spread across cores, but software that was designed before and during the Pentium 4's peak still assumes there is only one processor. Nobody expected to suddenly be given two cores that run at half the speed. This is why so many MMO games have performance issues. They're designed around the assumption that CPU speeds would increase, not decrease, and they aren't able to use additional CPU's. Trying to use a MMO game made in 2003 or 2011 on a CPU less than 3.0Ghz is just extremely painful.

If you want to see hardware succeed, the hardware designers must establish a baseline to not sell anything with performance characteristics that are LESS than what is required to run a MMORPG of that year. Many of the people I talk to while playing MMORPG's (I don't play WoW, I play several asian MMO's) play using laptops, and they complain endlessly of lag, overheating and pathetic frame rates (here's looking at you Intel GMA/HD video) I'm not asking that hardware designers stick the latest bleeding edge CPU and GPU in the laptops, but please stop sticking pathetically weak parts and poor cooling solutions in laptops. I'm the number one person people ask when needing to consider new hardware for the game we play, and I keep saying to not buy laptops, or if you must buy a laptop buy something like Sager, not a goddamn dell/alienware or hp/compaq.

When WebGL takes off (if ever) we're going to here nothing but awful complaints from people running these crappy underpowered after-thought laptops and desktops about why the performance sucks or that their laptops shutdown from thermal protection after several minutes. See the problem with Flash and battery drain? That's what we're facing with WebGL. WebGL needs to be "click-to-activate" and I hope to hell that no advertisers ever take advantage of it, or that will be the end of it.

ChromeOS is the problem not the hardware (3, Interesting)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | 1 year,22 days | (#43342767)

Sorry but web apps could be 100% perfect. That's fine but only if you have a web connection. Yes, some apps at least have an offline mode but you get minimal storage even on Google high-end chromebook which is even more off-putting because you're paying macbook prices for something inferior to a macbook (no a touch screen doesn't add anything of real value). There is still a lot of real work, like development which seem impossible to do on a chromebook. Some businesses do use them but from what I see they're throw-away devices used for people only really need to write "word docs" on google docs and email. I don't think anyone would trust it for much else and I don't blame them. It's like a handicapped version of linux.

Re:ChromeOS is the problem not the hardware (4, Informative)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | 1 year,22 days | (#43342875)

I think it is the price that is the problem.
I have looked a couple of times. (Planning on dropping a real Linux on it.) But every chrombook I have seen was at least $100 too expensive for what you get. For the same money, or in some cases less, you can get a real full laptop.
I freely admit to being a cheap bastard.

Re:ChromeOS is the problem not the hardware (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43343147)

> you can get a real full laptop.

And all the problems that go with it.

Re:ChromeOS is the problem not the hardware (1, Insightful)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343237)

> you can get a real full laptop.

And all the problems that go with it.

Install Linux. Problems solved. At least for me.

Re:ChromeOS is the problem not the hardware (2)

jedidiah (1196) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343621)

You can even get a [gasp] Apple laptop.

The recurring problem here seems to be Microsoft.

Re:ChromeOS is the problem not the hardware (4, Informative)

McGruber (1417641) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343261)

But every chrombook I have seen was at least $100 too expensive for what you get. For the same money, or in some cases less, you can get a real full laptop.

I consider my $250 Samsung Chromebook was money very well spent. I fly a lot for work --two roundtrips per month-- and am usually stuck in tiny "economy class" seats. I can open up the chromebook and actually type on it while sitting on a plane, even tiny regional jets. I usually can't open my regular notebook computer up on a plane because it is too big to fit between me and the seat in front of me.

The Chromebook also came with a dozen free Gogo passes. Gogo passes currently cost $14 each, if I buy them prior to my flight.... so the dozen free passes are woth $168 to me.

Re:ChromeOS is the problem not the hardware (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343335)

I have never seen one for $250. Here in Canada, they mostly run $350 or more.
Somewhere around $250 is where I think I might take a chance and buy one.

Re:ChromeOS is the problem not the hardware (4, Informative)

hrvatska (790627) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343635)

The Samsung Chromebook is $250. The Acer C7 Chromebook, with a 320G hard drive, is $190. I purchased the Samsung for my wife when her laptop died. She's been very satisfied with it. She likes the size and weight, that it boots rapidly, lack of a fan, relatively cool operation, and that for her usage patterns the battery lasts all day. Outside of work all that she does on a computer is email and consume content from the web, so the Chromebook fits her needs extremely well.

Re:ChromeOS is the problem not the hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43344023)

I freely admit to being a cheap bastard.

Not cheap at all. Just smart. Why should anyone waste money on a barely functional OS?

There's no question HTML5 apps are viable in many cases -- and there's no question Google's enabling some interesting scenarios here. But let them do the research on their own dime. Honestly, only an HTML5 compliant browser is needed for this experiment, and Chromebooks are probably just an attempt at keeping Apple / Microsoft on their toes. I just don't see any reason to get involved myself -- I need a proper computer.

Re:ChromeOS is the problem not the hardware (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43342955)

Once upon a time computers only worked with a power connection. That didn't seem to dissuade people much.

Eventually we'll get to the point where wireless internet is as ubiquitous and cheap as power. But we don't need to achieve parity with power for people to start using applications which require always-on internet. Google is clearly betting that a significant portion of the market is already there.

Re:ChromeOS is the problem not the hardware (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43342995)

Ah, but we LEFT the centralized computing story- which is what in the hell this stuff IS.

Chromebooks are all but a brick without an Internet connection. Will be for Google's model of this "new" (or is it OLD with better trappings??) idea to be usable for them.

It's got "FAIL" printed all over it. Extend it so that you're less beholden to Google and tethered to the Internet and the story changes at least a little bit.

Re:ChromeOS is the problem not the hardware (2)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343033)

Because there was no choice. We have lots of choice now so being the most limited guy on the block doesn't cut it. Computers used to use this same model with terminals but we realised that was a pain in the back side. I can't say that's changed in away. Being reliant on one way to do things is backwards.

Re:ChromeOS is the problem not the hardware (1)

gagol (583737) | 1 year,22 days | (#43344163)

From what I heard, ubiquitous free wifi is already the case in Philippines... Yes, our corporate mindset makes us retarded in north america, we are slaves to profit!

Stop drinking the Kool Aid (5, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | 1 year,22 days | (#43342775)

Just because something is new doesn't magically make it better. HTML5 isn't a silver bullet that magically makes everything better; in fact Adobe makes desktop applications because that's what makes sense to do, *not* because it's the latest fad.

At any rate, have fun uploading 20 gig videos to the cloud before editing them. I'll stick with Final Cut on my Mac, thanks.

Re:Stop drinking the Kool Aid (2)

sinuscavity (2886369) | 1 year,22 days | (#43342821)

MrEricSir, this is clippy I see that you are editing your video. In your video our algorithms have determined that you were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Would you to like to: a) report it to the police, b) pay us 1 million dollars to forget what it just saw?

Re:Stop drinking the Kool Aid (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343343)

Yeah, the police will be really happy to learn about every thriller movie that is being cut ... ;-)

If they ever added such a feature, I'd bet it would be forcefully deactivated in short time.

Re:Stop drinking the Kool Aid (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43342835)

I think what you meant to say was, "I'll stick with Final Cut on my Mac while it still exists...please and thank you Adobe, I'll even suck your dick, etc."

I'm guessing you won't be spouting you're "just because it's new" nonsense if Tim Cook comes out and actually announces a new product line, will you, shill?

Re:Stop drinking the Kool Aid (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43342837)

Can you run starcraft 2 on a chromebook? If not, why do you need good hardware?

Run.. run away (2)

sinuscavity (2886369) | 1 year,22 days | (#43342799)

If we have learned anything from the contemporary atomosphere it is that privacy is not just important it is the most important battle in our time. Chromebook is a threat to everything that is good about privacy and about personal computing. Imagine every little aspect of your computing experience being reported to Google all of the time. That's the future Google wants, and that's a totalitarian nightmare even worse than what we have currently.

Re:Run.. run away (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | 1 year,22 days | (#43342937)

Were you see threat, i see opportunity to explore new ideas. There is always going to be someone slurping up private data, learn to know your enemy, instead of shrinking away.

Re:Run.. run away (2)

epyT-R (613989) | 1 year,22 days | (#43344087)

Once the data is collected, it can then be used by others to misconstrue your intentions/character/viability for future opportunities. Forever. The only way to prevent this is to prevent it from being collected in the first place.

Knowing your enemies is only part of it. Having control over information and intellectual process is where the real power is, so, of course, assholes have come out of the woodwork in the last 10-15 years proclaiming privacy as dead/having never existed. Without privacy, such exploration is highly likely to run aground on more powerful/influential organizations that find such new ideas threatening to their existence/power/bottom lines. This is what such organizations want. Of course, this attitude is toxic to individual liberty and civil rights, and is one of the biggest drivers of today's left wing and right wing political dynamics.

Re:Run.. run away (4, Interesting)

wierd_w (1375923) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343115)

The decision that "privacy is dead" happened over a decade ago. Or, do you not remember Scott McNealy, former chairman of Sun Microsystems, who in 1999 said, "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it." And the observation by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison: "The privacy you're concerned about is largely an illusion. All you have to give up is your illusions, not any of your privacy." ??

Privacy gets in the way of money, and money is a means of attaining and exercising power. Throw in the alarming statistic about CEO psychopaths [time.com] , and you have what ails our world today.

Government has no incentive whatsoever to intervene here, because they also directly profit from stomping on privacy. Look at this editorial for instance. [wsj.com] Unless the politicos are themselves harmed by the loss of privacy, they have no incentive to protect it, and every reason to trample all over it instead.

The cleary proscribed solution to this problem is to exploit the fuck out of this surveylance society they are working oh so hard to make, and put THEM under the spotlight. It is the only way to get the retractions on positions and rulings required to halt the slide downhill. The leaders are only concerned with themselves, as is true of all psychopaths. You have to make them feel the fires too to get them motivated to do what is right, and they will bitch mightily about it the whole time.

Amusingly, that's what orgs like wikileaks aimed to do. We saw how that's worked for the likes of Assange. (Yes, he is the very definition of douche, but a douche that exposed a lot of dirty dealing, and pissed in a lot of cheerios, which is exactly what was needed, and is still desperately needed.)

Wait 10 Minutes (2, Insightful)

Goody (23843) | 1 year,22 days | (#43342809)

Google will drop support for Chromebooks when the next shiny thing comes along and people figure out this is a modern day Wyse terminal.

Re:Wait 10 Minutes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43344269)

And when that happens, you realize you can still use it unless the entire Internet becomes obsolete.

What company wouldn't drop support for old products? Or are you telling me you are using DOS right now?

Ah, yes, Tweetdeck. (3, Informative)

PhxBlue (562201) | 1 year,22 days | (#43342851)

Compare Tweetdeck's HTML5 version with its native app. Can you tell the difference?

No, because I'm still using Tweetdeck 0.38.1. I tried the newer version, but every so often it just decides it doesn't want to pull updates anymore.

Re:Ah, yes, Tweetdeck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43343157)

twitch.tv chat has the same problem. Web development is still absolutely pathetic.

Re:Ah, yes, Tweetdeck. (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343199)

"No, because I'm still using Tweetdeck 0.38.1. I tried the newer version, but every so often it just decides it doesn't want to pull updates anymore."

By the end of May, support for the older API will be pulled completely, and you won't be able to use it anymore.

The Web app is nothing at all like the old Tweetdeck. Yes, the web app is comparable to Twitter's version, Twitter's version sucks.

Time Travel (4, Interesting)

MLCT (1148749) | 1 year,22 days | (#43342877)

We are about to begin the process of travelling back in time. Back to a time when PCs were for experts: people who coded, people who needed specialist tools and people who wanted to tinker.

The good news in this transition is that we may get back to buying a PC that is geared to what we want rather than being full of junk that tech-illiterates need (specifically in the OS). If MS don't want to provide that experience (and evidence suggests that they don't) then we will just all wipe the machines and put linux on them.

The bad news is that we will also travel back in time with the price of a PC. Inflation has ran at 3-5% for the last 25 years (give or take a couple of years), yet the cost of a baseline PC has more than halved in that time. That scale only comes with the addition of the tech-illiterate (& Chinese assembly) - once they buy pixibooks and tablets we will be left to pick up the full price for our dedicated high power PCs. The only possible depression on prices is corporate buying, but it can't be too long before they create a stable lightweight environment to get the bulk of corporate work done instead of buying a workstation for every desk.

Re:Time Travel (2)

dadelbunts (1727498) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343113)

Oh yay. I cant wait for the day when i have to install an OS that provides subpar functionality for home computing. I will devote my days to scouring forums for hours to get anything to work 80% right. And will have to turn to windows emulation to do anything. A dystopian future indeed.

Re:Time Travel (4, Interesting)

epine (68316) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343137)

once they buy pixibooks and tablets we will be left to pick up the full price for our dedicated high power PCs

Time travel? Looks more like space travel.

Most of the decline in price in desktop systems results from chip-scale integration. I can't even figure out what you mean by "pick up the full price". We've been paying less? This is news to me. The only reason the price will bounce upwards is further consolidation of the market, as we saw with Seagate and Western Digital.

The largest overhead in the PC business stems from the design cadence. Every shrink is more expensive than the last one. I wouldn't be the least surprised if Intel's two year shrink cadence begins to stretch out, which might slow the investment cycle and reduce prices in the short run, but publicly Intel seems to think not.

From Intel Has 5 nm Processors in Sight [tomshardware.com] -- September 2012 by Wolfgang Gruener

According to the company, future production processes down to 5 nm are on the horizon and will most likely be reached without significant problems. Following the current 22 nm process, Intel's manufacturing cadence suggests that the first 14 nm products will arrive in late 2013, 10 nm in 2015, 7 nm in 2017, and 5 nm in 2019. A slight adjustment has been made to include different production processes for traditional processors and now SoCs. The company previously indicated that SoCs will be accelerated to catch up with the process applied to Intel's main processor products.

Looks like the underlying cost structure is largely shared.

Re:Time Travel (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343187)

once they buy pixibooks and tablets we will be left to pick up the full price for our dedicated high power PCs

No. One of the main things that allowed PC's to become so cheap over time was economies of scale re: mass manufacturing of commodities like RAM. Even if "Desktop PC's" become ultra-exclusive items (doubtful), they'll very likely be packed full of ARM cores and memory chips as you're likely to find in a portable device, just a lot more of them. Certain things (chipsets, high-end GPU's) are another story... but even now, those things aren't commoditized to the same degree that more common parts are (i.e. they're relatively expensive now so even if they remain that way, you won't see much change on that front).

Re:Time Travel (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343661)

Your argument only works so long as you completely ignore any thing that isn't a DOS clone. Once you allow consideration of things that weren't DOS clones, the price situation doesn't seem nearly a grim.

It was the PC that dragged it's feet with a GUI, a real OS, and even reasonable pricing.

My first non-PC cost me 1/3rd what a cut rate and inferior clone of the time would have cost.

Once you stop fixating on secretary terminals, the history isn't quite so grim.

Bah, humbug... (4, Insightful)

theVarangian (1948970) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343031)

The Chromebook is a threat to everything, especially PC makers, as its apps improve. Compare Tweetdeck's HTML5 version with its native app.

It's a thin client. Chrome OS is not likely to put a dent in my plans to continue buying PCs until Google can guarantee complete network coverage everywhere and HTML5 apps are written that can replace complex native apps like Photoshop and the likes. There is a world of difference between Tweetdeck and really complex native apps. Then there is the issue of all my data residing on 3rd party data-center which might get hacked, data mined by the service provider without my permission, destroyed in an unseasonal flood disaster or just discontinued because the service failed to meet profitability goals. Nobody is going to discontinue the SSD in my laptop due to its failure to meet some corporate weasels profitability expectation any time soon and the same goes for my backup disks.

Who's pushing these articles? (5, Interesting)

Spy Handler (822350) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343051)

Every few years there seems to be a push to get people to accept these ass-backwards computers. Apparently the software companies love the concept of users being held captive to them and requiring their permission just to run the simplest application. "Renting" software on a per usage basis is like their wettest dream.

I remember back in the day, Oracle was pushing these "Net Computers" or NCs as being the future. Nobody needs to run software from their own hard drive, you can just get everything from the Net! Except for the fact people's hard drives were 4 orders of magnitude faster than their internet connection (and will continue to be so for any foreseeable future). Nobody ended up buying this shit and it went into the dustbin of history.

But looks like they're trying it again, except now it's been renamed "cloud computing".

Re:Who's pushing these articles? (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343523)

I bought a Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 and not a Nexus 7 for one specific reason: the Galaxy Tab has an SD slot that I can plug a 32gig card into. The Nexus 7, Google seems determined to force the user to store their 'stuff' in the cloud. Sorry. My net connection is sporatic and I prefer not to be always tethered.

One of the privacy issues with iOS or generic Android is that you are locked into the Apple or Google survellience sphere. So I run Firefox on Android, and never log into a Google account on it. The Chrome browser is good for that. I'm not sure I would use the web as much at all on mobile devices if all there were was a Google browser or a skinned Safari (which is all you can get on iOS)

Re:Who's pushing these articles? (3, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | 1 year,22 days | (#43344357)

I got a Nexus 7 with 16GB memory. Half a year of daily, even constant use, and several large apps and games (Final Fantasy III for instance; and Dungeon Defenders) and I've used up all of 4.5GB.

Storage is important, I agree, and we all use our devices differently. But don't make the mistake of blindly believing that you always need more. I've noticed on my desktop too, that storage has actually outgrown my needs for it for years now. It surprises me now to remember a time when I'd actually have to uninstall a large game or app in order to install another one; have to actually select what Linux packages to install or choose one desktop over another in order to save space.

Re:Who's pushing these articles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43343753)

ROFL, I remember those Network Computers that Larry Ellison kept blabbering about. This was when the whole world was going to turn to Java, because Microsoft was doomed. Now Java is the new COBOL and my bloody phone has more RAM than the super computer I used in school. But it's "thin." ROFLMAO.

What happens to a ChromeBook when it's not online? (1)

Phasma Felis (582975) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343081)

Serious question. Can you store files and run apps locally? I don't know. If the answer is "no", then it's obviously worthless garbage.

Re:What happens to a ChromeBook when it's not onli (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43343253)

Pretty much the same thing that happens to your cool HBO GO and Netflix apps when you get on an airplane.

Offline apps and storage (3, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343423)

Serious question. Can you store files and run apps locally?

Yes. That's rather the point of the variety of offline-related APIs that have been pushed as web standards by -- largely though not solely -- Google and which are supported by ChromeOS (and, for that matter, Chrome and a number of browsers on other OS's, too.)

Chromebooks need to be cheap (1)

itsdapead (734413) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343089)

PC manufacturers may try to corral Chromebook, much like Netbooks, by setting frustratingly low hardware expectations.

...because unless Chromebooks are significantly cheaper than a regular computer running Windows/OX X or Linux, where's the point? When/if almost everything has moved to the cloud, Chromebook-type machines will make a lot of sense. In the meantime, a regular computer gives you the best of both worlds - you can run native applications and fire up a browser to use web apps.

Chromebooks should be most useful in corporate environments where the cost of maintaining hundreds of individual OS installations is a big issue - but such organisations are going to be conservative about moving to cloud-based applications, and typically rely on lots of legacy software...

Re:Chromebooks need to be cheap (1)

buybuydandavis (644487) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343781)

The point is having a relatively locked down device for my retired mom to use. Point, click, automatic updates, automatic backups of data, and relative immunity to hacks.

Simpler and more secure has value.

Re:Chromebooks need to be cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43343875)

Sounds like she needs an iPad.

Re:Chromebooks need to be cheap (1)

epyT-R (613989) | 1 year,22 days | (#43344293)

yeah.. until it starts doing something she doesn't like, or stops doing something she does like..then she calls her son who cannot do a thing about it. Yay for consumer powerlessness!

history repeating (5, Interesting)

bloodhawk (813939) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343145)

The same broken concept of crippled terminal type computers seems to have been repeated so many times over the past 30 years (time I have been in IT). The chromebook is just yet another attempt at a concept that consumers have shown repeatedly they don't want. I really expect (and hope) chromebooks also end up on the trash heap of bad ideas just like all the previous versions, the concept seems more aimed at what software and advertising companies want not what users need or want.

Re:history repeating (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343301)

Sadly, the trend seems to have reversed in the past decade. :(

Look at facebook and pals. People seem hell bent on throwing their privacy into the hands of shysters for something shiny. Apple is already on the way this direction with siri, which is exactly this kind of application. (Siri runs on servers owned by apple, the app is just an interface to the big iron.) I don't imagine apple will find siri's adoption "discouraging".

Just turn the heat up slowly instead of all at once, and people will cease to remember how things used to be. (Afterall, we will all be "grandpa telling stories" by then.) After that, its all downhill.

Siri (1)

bussdriver (620565) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343417)

Siri is genius. Saves battery life for some bandwidth usage which is less of an issue over time than battery life. Audio recognition will eat up as much CPU cycles as you can throw at it and the software is still evolving. Placing such a feature on server farms and mainframes ensure the best experience and trouble free seamless upgrades. Eventually, it'll work well enough and fast enough to run locally.

The intelligent features that leverage your personal information will provide an excuse to hand that info to a 3rd party... the incentive to port it locally disappears when all that extra information that makes it "smart" is no longer sent. While it is possible Apple would be willing to give that information up and some battery life; someday when technology permits.

GOOGLE WILL NEVER do it. They are all about gathering as much about you as possible and keeping it forever even if they don't have any use for the information at the time.

Re:history repeating (3, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343511)

The same broken concept of crippled terminal type computers seems to have been repeated so many times over the past 30 years (time I have been in IT).

The Chromebook isn't intended to be a "crippled terminal type computer", and its concept is new.

The reason people keep getting this wrong is that they think of it as an OS that is "just a browser", but refer to an outdated concept of what a web browser does that misses the entire point of Chrome (not just ChromeOS, but Chrome more generally.)

Re:history repeating (2)

jedidiah (1196) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343677)

You can try and dress it up and engage in flimflam all you like, we will still recognize it (Chrome) for what it is.

Re:history repeating (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43344003)

Chromebook is NOT fully functional if it is not web connected, it runs in a very limited fashion, it also comes with extremely limited built in storage. If this doesn't count as "crippled" then I am not sure what does.

Re:history repeating (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43344295)

The Chromebook isn't intended to be a "crippled terminal type computer", and its concept is new.

LOL that is practically the same catch cry NC's, Java Stations, IBM Net stations et al. Every time it is "this time it is different", it isn't, it is still a limited computer that for full functionality is reliant on a network. all 3 of the machines I mentioned their also had the ability to run a limited set of applications locally and they also all claimed they were the future of what people wanted and just like the Chromebook they sold miserably. People are certainly getting it wrong, but those people are the ones that think this is something new and different.

Re:history repeating (3, Interesting)

Malenx (1453851) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343643)

A large portion of consumers have repeatedly stated the Chromebook is exactly what they want. It's cheap, handles basic computing needs (word processes, etc), handles online streaming, and is nearly virus proof with little to no learning curve. There is also no slow degrade of speed over time as your not installing any software. For a lot of non-techies, it's a dream come true.

Looking forward to getting a few more bucks saved up to get my wife another as she's used her old Chromebook into the ground (the monitor is literally held on with tape as it was a beta product and she's a rough user).

You may not agree, but I find it hard to believe you formed your opinion on the realities of what the common computer user wants.

Re:history repeating (2)

wierd_w (1375923) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343985)

Why not use a harvard based system then? Seprating program ram from data ram would fantastically limit the options of malicious asshats attempting exploits. Trojan horsing an executable payload in the data portion of the stack and jumping execution simply wouldn't work on harvard.

Designing a device that can do all these things is not terribly difficult. There is really no reason for the "OMG! It has to have all the things, and ON der interwebz!" Other than becaue doing so eases central management. "Central management" is the exact same thing as vendor lock in. When the device and its software are subject to central managment, YOU don't manage the device, THEY do. That's the point!

They can enforce a consistent and quality experience without that kind of leash.

They just don't want to, because the users you cite aren't educated enough to know that the things being given up are not necessary things they must trade to get what they want.

Re:history repeating (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43343995)

The common computer user just wants their computer to work. Most don't understand that a chromebook is mostly crippled if it isn't connected to the web which for many is a regular problem. Network computers are a nice idea and nothing chromebooks do is new or innovative, however the issue is they still haven't solved the core problems of demanding always online connectivity to be fully productive. Users look at what a chromebook can do and say "perfect, that is all I need in a computer", without realising the consequences and what they are actually losing.

Re:history repeating (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | 1 year,22 days | (#43344145)

If they are EXACTLY what the consumer wants then why are they selling so badly? they have certainly been advertised and pushed, they got huge amounts of press, yet from all the recent articles it seems even the relatively low selling MS Surface tablets are outselling them and that is pretty bad for something supposedly all these consumers want.

Re:history repeating (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43344239)

consumers always state what they think they want. If you described a chromebook and what it does to my mother she would say "YES, that is perfect and that does exactly what I want", however the reality is far different as she takes so many things she does with her computer for granted like installing the custom drivers for her piece of crap phone and printer, running her tax software, storing the thousands of photos she wants to show my grandmother in the hospital where she can't use a phone or any sort of internet connection or any number of other small things that won't work on a chromebook, the concept that all of these basic things will not work with a chromebook are things she doesn't realise and if you asked her specifically about those then she would say "well then what is the point of a chromebook if I have to buy a second laptop to do that anyway". Unfortunately when people are asking consumers what they want in a computer they are not really asking the right questions or more importantly they are not checking on exactly what they are "really" doing.

I blame Microsoft for anemic netbooks (1)

twistofsin (718250) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343297)

Microsoft placed restrictions on hardware for a Win 7 Starter license, which I think paved the landscape for netbooks more than anything else.

I'd be a lot more sympathetic... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43343327)

...to the Chromebook concept, if the model was closer to something like Dropbox: the master copy of a document is on the server, but you always have a local working copy, and you can keep working on it while you're offline; it gets synced the moment you go online. Using HTML5 as the application language is fine; you just need to be able to keep enough of the applications cached locally to do all the offline work.

This is a problem domain whose various aspects that has been explored for decades by X terminals, VNC, Remote Desktop, etc. Remote file syncing has also been explored for a long time, and we now have good working solutions in application-specific arena like IMAP and git, as well as general solutions like Dropbox. I still can't believe Google ignored all of these lessons, and instead decided to re-animate the late-90s "network computer" zombie.

Re:I'd be a lot more sympathetic... (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343409)

The problem with allowing offline applications, is that it totally negates the power inherent in the system to combat unauthorized applet use/development.

Eg, if there is a local cached copy of [superfantastical high dollar app], I can manipulate this cached copy, and then release it through less controlled channels. Allowing offline cached programs to be run permits users to run such pirated copies, and permits tinkerers to break the ecosystem further by circumenting the central control heirarchy in the system's design.

It would fundementally break what makes the chromebook "different" from just being another computer and OS combo.

The Chromebook Concept (2)

DragonWriter (970822) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343471)

[I'd be a lot more sympathetic...] ...to the Chromebook concept, if the model was closer to something like Dropbox: the master copy of a document is on the server, but you always have a local working copy, and you can keep working on it while you're offline.

That's pretty much exactly the model for apps using the offline APIs that are central to the idea of ChromeOS's viability.

I still can't believe Google ignored all of these lessons, and instead decided to re-animate the late-90s "network computer" zombie.

They didn't.

I'm more worried about the future of Androbooks (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343361)

Android does everything Chrome does, plus lots more. At least for the consumer: I understand the need for .Corp , .Gov and .Edu to have dumb clients, but Consumers can benefit more from a more independent OS.

Next step (1)

devent (1627873) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343395)

The next step will be HTML6 that can be downloaded and can run offline like a normal application. Then someone will start build a web browser in HTML6, and try to sell it as something "new" and in the "cloud". That will be a HTML6 extension HTML7.

No really, WTF? Finally we reached the technology that any mobile phone can be faster then anything 20 years ego. But noooo, now we need to put everything on the web. So it will run 100x slower, tied to a browser, and if the Internet connection goes down, so go your data and your app.

Of course Apple, MS and Google are very happy of this development. So are Hollywood studios and music publishers. So they can exercise tight control over the apps and the content and Google can get all your stuff what you do on the computer/device and data mining it for ads.

I was /really/ impressed with WebGL. http://webglsamples.googlecode.com/hg/aquarium/aquarium.html [googlecode.com]
It runs with about 20 fps and uses up 15% of my CPU. I'm /really/ impressed. You know I can run the same demo with 400fps and 1% CPU usage? Yes it runs in the web browser, so what? Just let me download the app and I can run it too. With Java and JOGL you had the option 10 years ego. But whatever.

Chrome is technology looking for problem to solve (1)

DavidinAla (639952) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343451)

Chrome is a technology looking for a problem to solve, at least for me and for most people. Yes, Google (and maybe some other companies) would be happy if they were constantly controlling the apps you were using, but I so no advantage in that approach to me. (And I see serious disadvantages.) I have a MacBook Air that I'm very, very happy with. It's simple to use and manage. It's small and light. Why would I possibly be better-served by comparable hardware running a browser-based OS? It makes no sense from my point of view. I don't want it and I'm not buying it. If it happens to suit your needs, great. But for most people, native apps running completely without an online connection when necessary are the way to go.

Retro? (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343455)

Retro? There is nothing retro about the current breed of Celeron processors (like the 887). To put that in perspective: those are full dual core CPU's that have about the performance of Core 2 Duo CPU's from around 4 years ago. Heck, they're Sandy and Ivy bridge based! Low power too! I'd wager to say they're based on the Core i3 cores. They truly are nothing to spit at.

April Fools (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43343671)

Microsoft should have posted the Pixel video as an April Fools joke.

Retro Celeron (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#43343755)

Never thought id hear a statement like that, and it doesn't really apply as they are new ones, not NOS from some basement storage room...

I prefer the ARM based one instead.. but somehow i doubt it will last long.

Not bloody likely (1)

gelfling (6534) | 1 year,22 days | (#43343819)

Our laptop standard is an 8GB quad processor barely sufficient to run Linux and Windows emulation.

I never understood the point of ChromeOS... (2)

trdrstv (986999) | 1 year,22 days | (#43344091)

I'll be honest, I never understood why Google keeps pushing ChromeOS. The 2 devices where "It needs to be connected to a network in order to be useful at all" (Phone and TV) they decided to go with Android so really why bother ? It's like someone high up in Google is stuck in the 1970's/ 80's mainframe mentality where client hardware is weak and expensive and connectivity to the server is cheap, when in fact we live in the opposite world of that.

Chromebook upgrades (1)

Medieval_Thinker (592748) | 1 year,22 days | (#43344175)

One issue with the Chromebooks is that if you upgrade the memory or hard drive to a ssd, you void the warranty. I asked a Chrome tech to confirm this with a supervisor. You are not going to get much geek interest in a product if they can't upgrade a hard drive. So... It is going to languish with the low end users and not do much. My 2 cents

Re:Chromebook upgrades (1)

kqs (1038910) | 1 year,22 days | (#43344255)

So it will sell poorly with 1% of users, and will only be popular with the remaining 99%? Truly a recipe for failure!

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