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I'm fascinated by the reactions to Google's Chromebooks: lots of people who would scream blue murder if you put a thin client on their desk are delighted at the idea of an even thinner client as long as it looks like a laptop and lets them browse the Web (wait till their IT team locks down the sites they can browse with the usual firewall controls to see if they're still keen). I've already said that Chromebooks are a wakeup call to the Windows team to remove complexity, and my interview with Google's Rajen Sheth is up on ZDNet now and getting lots of comments. I've blogged some extra details on Chromebooks for business there too (like - can I cancel after six months?).

I'm not going to reprise my thoughts that the cheaper TCO Google claims also applies to Windows when you do the same desktop management or that adding another platform with no third-party integrated management tools doesn't necessarily reduce management costs overall (now you have users in both Chrome config and Active Directory to deal with separately). Instead I'll speculate wildly about why the Chromebooks are Atom and not ARM processors. Obviously Intel loves it - it emboldened Renee James to make some wildly inaccurate attacks on Windows 8 on ARM that Microsoft shot out of the sky - and I suspect you need the Intel processors to get Flash running at a decent speed along with the rest of Chrome. But mainly it means Samsung and Acer don't have to eat the cost of tooling to set up a new line to make boxes that may or not sell; they can just bang out a standard PC motherboard and laptop chassis and let Google worry about drivers and making a true netbook not look like a chocolate teapot when you don't have the bandwidth or battery to be online (on ARM tablets it's the screen that uses the majority of power, on a PC the Wi-Fi is a bigger consumer - I've yet to discover what uses most power on a Chromebook). Until every Web app I want to use works offline, Chromebooks won't be useful disconnected, so everyone should finally get offline Gmail.

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
autopope
24th May, 2011 09:40 (UTC)
"Remove complexity" is a key insight.

My dad (age: 86) was having trouble with the Macbook I planted on him a couple of years ago, even with weekly tutorial visits from a friend.

So on my last visit I dangled an iPad under his nose (first generation, synced with an account on my mum's iMac). I gather he's taken to it like a duck to water because it's simple enough for him to find his way around.

Next step: see if mum wants one too.

Edited at 2011-05-24 09:40 (UTC)
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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Mary Branscombe
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