Chrome OS Captures Half of Education Market, Becomes Viable Platform

Kids and seniors alike can be free from viruses and complicated updates

Chrome OS has been a sleeper success. You don’t hear about it as often as you should, considering its highly impressive adoption rate. For those who don’t know, Chrome OS is an operating system (OS) developed by Google and based on the open-source Linux operating system (similar to Android). The only application it runs is Google’s Chrome web browser.

Take the machine I’m writing this article on; it’s a six-year-old MacBook Air that has been repurposed as a Chromebook. The Macintosh OS was beginning to bog down after five major iterations (10.6 > 10.11) and memory was being hogged by the vestigial desktop environment. All it could do anymore was run a web browser, so I made the switch. And let me tell you, the difference is night and day.

It has been a mini-revolution. Offering freedom from the hassles of bloatware, viruses, time-consuming administration, and resource-intensive desktop environments, Chrome OS has deployed across both business and, especially, education markets. In addition to relieving administrators of many headaches, Chrome OS provides an attractive alternative to Windows on the low end of the consumer market; Chrome OS operates better with limited resources (2GB RAM and 16GB SSD are standard on Chromebooks) than Microsoft’s OS.

The thinking here is that a vast majority of what people use a computer for is web browsing. Think about what the typical user does on their computer on a day-to-day basis: social media, email, the weather... It's all online. You don't need a lot of horsepower to check your Twitter feed or to see who won the NFL game.

"A vast majority of what people use a computer for is web browsing."

When announced in 2009, it truly seemed as though Google was jumping the gun, “Nothing but Chrome?! But what about Microsoft Office?” But in reality, what they were doing was investing in the the future of computing and accurately predicting a paradigm shift in the way we use our machines.

Many consumers buying a Chromebook, the successor to the value subcategory of laptop once called a netbook (a device category from last decade killed off by Apple’s MacBook Air and iPad), likely will not want to leave the convenience and simplicity of Google’s platform. That’s bad news for Apple’s hardware sales and Microsoft's Office subscription numbers.