back to article Chromebooks are problematic for profits and planet, says Lenovo exec

Lenovo won't stop making Chromebooks despite the machines scoring poorly when it comes to both sustainability and revenue, according to an exec speaking at Canalys APAC Forum in Bangkok on Wednesday. "I don't know who makes the profit," commented Che Min Tu, Lenovo senior vice president and group operations officer. "Everybody …

  1. DS999 Silver badge

    "I don't know who makes the profit"

    Google does, not the hardware OEM. That's the problem hardware OEMs have with it, Google collects all the post sale revenue and OEMs have to make essentially zero profit on it at sale time to compare favorably enough with Windows PC pricing for customers to choose the former.

    1. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Re: "I don't know who makes the profit"

      Chromebooks are just a laptop that doesn't run Windows, so how can Lenovo make profit on Windows laptops while paying MS a license fee for the OS and not make a profit selling Chromebooks where there is no OS license to pay?

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: OS license fee

        Chromebooks have the same issue as Linux laptops: Those ecosystems lack high the revenue crapware that cancels out the cost of a Windows license. There is also Microsoft marketing assistance. Microsoft pay a lot of money to EOMs that bundle a Windows license with every laptop shipped. Shipping anything with no OS, Linux or presumably Chrome cancels that money and significantly increases the effective cost of Windows to OEMs.

        Microsoft Marketing Assistance was ruled anti-competitive and customers were given the theoretical right to demand a refund for an unwanted and unused Windows license. In practice it took a large amount of jumping through hoops to get the money, wasn't worth the effort and it only hurt the retailer because the cost of the refund never made it all the way back to Microsoft.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: OS license fee

          "Chromebooks have the same issue as Linux laptops: Those ecosystems lack high the revenue crapware that cancels out the cost of a Windows license. "

          You mean the crap-ware that is almost completely exclusive to consumer hardware, not business/enterprise hardware, and which has been increasingly unpopular amongst OEMs even in the consumer space for years now?

          And the issue with Linux laptops isn't cost, it's the lack of ISV support that makes selling it difficult. Coupled with the fact that Linux rarely supports latest hardware. On top of that, large businesses (which buy more PCs than consumers) mostly run either on Windows (+MS365) or ChromeOS (+ Google Workspace) as clients. A much smaller percentage uses Macs. The number which uses Linux clients is negligible.

          "There is also Microsoft marketing assistance. Microsoft pay a lot of money to EOMs that bundle a Windows license with every laptop shipped. Shipping anything with no OS, Linux or presumably Chrome cancels that money and significantly increases the effective cost of Windows to OEMs."

          That hasn't been the case for many years, mostly because regulators across the world saw it for what it is: anti-competitive bribes.

          1. 43300 Silver badge

            Re: OS license fee

            "You mean the crap-ware that is almost completely exclusive to consumer hardware, not business/enterprise hardware, and which has been increasingly unpopular amongst OEMs even in the consumer space for years now?"

            Have you looked at a clean install of Windows 11 Pro (or Enterprise) recently? It's full of crap - most of the effort in designing deployments is creating scripts, app rules, etc, to remove the unwanted shite. It's not even clear why Microsoft is so determined to foist most of this on us as Solitaire, consumer-Teams, etc, have no clear monetisation route, especially on SKUs designed for the business market.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "I don't know who makes the profit"

        I prefer to think of them as a 10 year old phone with a keyboard that inexplicably sells for the same price as a laptop.

        I can't imagine how they could not be selling at a profit, unless all the profits are used up in back-handers to the school management in exchange for mandating that pupils parents must buy these shitty devices for them to do their work on.

        1. KayJ

          Re: "I don't know who makes the profit"

          They have good battery life and are simple to use and maintain. The ones we have are, touch wood, reasonably cheap and reasonably tough as well (although nothing is student-proof.) They're a good fit for school use and as a long-suffering school IT bod I would *much* rather maintain a fleet of chromebooks than a fleet of windows laptops (in addition to desktop Windows boxen for heavier lifting.)

      3. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: "I don't know who makes the profit"

        That Windows license is about $40, which isn't enough when consumers are comparing alternatives to steer many of them to the Chromebook, unless they don't realize it isn't running Windows which is why the return rate for them from consumer purchases (as opposed to school purchases where they know what they are getting) is huge.

        1. 43300 Silver badge

          Re: "I don't know who makes the profit"

          The big manufacturers who will be buying tens or hundreds of thousands of Windows licenses at a time are unlikely to be paying anything like that per license.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "I don't know who makes the profit"

      "Google does, not the hardware OEM. That's the problem hardware OEMs have with it, Google collects all the post sale revenue and OEMs have to make essentially zero profit on it at sale time to compare favorably enough with Windows PC pricing for customers to choose the former."

      I'd like to see some evidence for this claim, because I'm pretty sure it's BS. Unlike with Windows, hardware OEMs don't have to pay licensing fees for standard ChromeOS (they have to pay for ChromeOS Enterprise, though, or leave it to the end user to do that). Google also doesn't get a cent from any of the hardware sales.

      Besides, you and many other commenters here seem to think that all ChromeBooks must be bottom-of-the-barrel laptops which are sold at Walmart, Target and Co. for a couple of hundred bucks. When in reality, ChromeBooks cover a wide range of models, from cheap & nasty to enterprise-grade high-end with Core i7 and 16GB RAM.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: "I don't know who makes the profit"

        What about "Google collects all the post sale revenue" do you not understand? Post sale revenue means revenue that's not from a software license like Microsoft, or profit from the hardware sale like the OEM hopes it is making.

        Here's a hint for you: where does Google make over 100% of its profit from? (over 100% because collectively they lose money on everything else) Advertising, duh!

        Chromebooks are designed around everyone using the Chrome browser, Google search, Gmail and other Google cloud apps. All of it slinging ads to the user every time they use it, earning Google a penny here, and a penny there, which adds up to real money over the lifetime of that Chromebook. All 100% profit for Google, much more money than the OEM is earning on the sale.

        Don't believe me? Just look at the figures for what Facebook was reported to earn from slinging ads at its EU users - a figure cited by people complaining that what Facebook wanted to charge to avoid ads was even higher. That's just for an AVERAGE Facebook user, you can probably assume that an average Chromebook owner would use it as much as the average Facebook user uses Facebook. So Google could easily make a couple hundred bucks per Chromebook during its useful life. Heck, they could almost manufacture them themselves and give them away and still be profitable, but so long as OEMs are dumb enough to sell them why should Google step in?

        1. Patrician

          Re: "I don't know who makes the profit"

          "Here's a hint for you: where does Google make over 100% of its profit from? (over 100% because collectively they lose money on everything else) Advertising, duh!"

          Google Workspace accounts do not get ads "slung" at the users; it's a paid subscription service just like Office 365. Retail chrome book users will get ads as they are using Googles "free" services, but businesses and education establishments using Workspace do not.

          1. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: "I don't know who makes the profit"

            Either way it is post sale revenue for Google, which was my point.

        2. 43300 Silver badge

          Re: "I don't know who makes the profit"

          "Chromebooks are designed around everyone using the Chrome browser, Google search, Gmail and other Google cloud apps. All of it slinging ads to the user every time they use it, earning Google a penny here, and a penny there, which adds up to real money over the lifetime of that Chromebook."

          And of course it's not a one-way street - in addition to slinging ads, Google will be collecting data about the user which they can then use for further monetisation.

    3. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: "I don't know who makes the profit"

      Its the same reason that TVs are now so cheap. They're all "intelligent" -- essentially a Chromebook** with a larger screen, better speakers and no built-in keyboard. They're so cheap because they deliver a user to the advertising ecosystem (in fact, back when you had a choice of either dumb or intelligent TVs you found that the dumb one cost significant more).

      (**Try using a Raspberry PI with a TV and you'll notice that the performance is quite adequate for browsing and the like. This gives you a good hint about what's under the hood/bonnet in a generic Chromebook.)

  2. GNoMe
    Thumb Down

    chromebooks suck

    I bought an asus chromebook and it sucks.

    had it 2 months before the touchscreen died, not repairable, no longer in stock even though it was only build 10 months ago and half my android apps wouldn't work on it.

    Got a refund and bought a cheaper large android tablet which just works (and is faster) so the chromebook is now going to the waste skip.

    1. AJ MacLeod

      Re: chromebooks suck

      Rather a sweeping generalisation, no? You bought one and it was a lemon therefore all Chromebooks suck? FWIW if you're interested in parts availability and repairability you should probably not buy from ASUS (laptops in general are poor but they are particularly bad for this.)

    2. Flicker

      Re: chromebooks suck

      Have to say that's the exact opposite to my experience! Bought a ludicrously cheap (£139) Asus CX1 14" Chromebook in the Currys sale and couldn't be more impressed by it. Decent, Full HD IPS display, nice keyboard, charges from a tiny USB-C phone charger and wizzes along for the email / web browsing / basic text editing tasks I use it for away from home. Bit of an impulse buy - I was looking for something which wouldn't hurt too much if it was lost or stolen when travelling and this fits the bill perfectly. Runs all of my phone's Android apps, mostly in proper re-sizeable windows and so long as I don't try to have much open at once performs well, with zero heat, no fan noise due to the anaemic processor used and happily runs an old custom Windows application via Linux + Wine that my main Win10 system now won't even open after one of the Windows Update patches last year. Maybe a niche use-case, but I've become a total convert - I love the simple efficiency of the thing and would recommend them to anyone who moves in areas where there's a risk of their laptop getting nicked or broken. Not nearly as beautiful as my wife's MacBook Pro, but also one tenth the cost!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: chromebooks suck

        I bought an equally cheap 2016 MacBook Air from eBay.

        It has and does all of those things, and has an i5 processor that lets me run a complete software dev environment - Xcode, eclipse, Visual Studio, git .... even VMWare for Windows if I'm desperate

        And, thanks to kind souls on the internet, I can still run the latest greatest versions of the OS .. I know which I'd choose.

        1. wobball

          Re: chromebooks suck

          'Equally Cheap'

          I declare BS!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: chromebooks suck

            I didn’t say it was new … but it was £139 ….

        2. Jason Hindle

          Re: chromebooks suck

          “ It has and does all of those things, and has an i5 processor that lets me run a complete software dev environment - Xcode, eclipse, Visual Studio, git .... even VMWare for Windows if I'm desperate”

          Having picked up Chromebook Plus for curiosity money, in the sales, I can report that Chromebooks do that. Well, not the Xcode bit, and Windows virtualisation is a bit new, but a dev environment is fairly straightforward.

      2. JacobZ

        Re: chromebooks suck

        I have exactly the same positive experience. I bought a really cheap ($100-ish) small Lenovo Chromebook as an experiment (I had quit work, returned my work laptops, and needed something for away from home). I was so happy with it that I bought a second one (Acer) with a larger screen and more powerful processor. It's ideal for travel e.g. for finding local restaurants, checking opening times for attractions, and all sorts of online stuff. I also use it for writing in cafés without having to be paranoid about it getting swiped (there's no personal info on the local drive) or having coffee spilled on it.

        Also, I never have to worry about updates or driver compatibility or any of that crap. It just works nearly all the time. And if anything does go badly wrong, a reset is quick and easy. Basically, it's the admin ease of a phone with the screen and keyboard and capability of a laptop.

        And for the tech purists, it's Linux under the covers. It's kind of weird to see the Reg crowd defending Windows and Mac over a true Linux machine!

        The only thing I don't use it for is running a development environment (although reportedly plenty of people do) as I need Windows for my test environment, so a desktop makes sense for that.

      3. l8gravely

        Re: chromebooks suck

        I bought the mother-in-law a chromebook 10 years ago because she kept screwing up her windows 7 (?) laptop no matter how I locked it down. And since she's a technophobe and passive-aggressive about asking for help... I just gave in and got her a chromebook. It's been awesome. Just minor niggles over all that time. I just recently replaced it because alot of sites aren't supporting the older 32bit version of chrome anymore, so I got her a new $400 one. Better screen and keyboard, and it will just *work* for her needs. She's happy, I'm happy. And I expect it to last her another 10 years.

        This seems like a win win to me. Less crap in the skip to be recycled (or not). and less support hassles for me.

    3. WanderingHaggis

      Re: chromebooks suck

      Got a chromebox for my mother in law. Much lower stress level giving her chrome support than any of her previous windows boxes. Backup is done all the tasks she wants are easily done -- she hasn't lost anything. Wouldn't give her anything else now.

    4. Smirnov

      Re: chromebooks suck

      "I bought an asus chromebook and it sucks."

      No, you bought an Asus computer and it sucks. It sucks because Asus is crap.

      "had it 2 months before the touchscreen died, not repairable, no longer in stock even though it was only build 10 months ago and half my android apps wouldn't work on it."

      And you came to the conclusion that the touchscreen died because it's a ChromeBook how, exactly?

      1. Code For Broke

        Re: chromebooks suck

        Since when is Asus "crap"? Until recently they made the second best motherboards, behind Intel. And their tablets, boxen and laptops have always served me incredibly well. In my mind they are like the Toyota of tech.

    5. Code For Broke

      Re: chromebooks suck

      You got a refund without returning it?

      And... Please have the decency to pitch it in to e-waste, not regular waste!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bad for the environment?

    A Chromebook which lasts 5-10 years (10 years of software updates from launch date) is surely better for the environment than a Windows laptop which lasts 3-5.

    And why does a Chromebook need to be any less recyclable than a Windows laptop?

    1. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Bad for the environment?

      A Chromebook is typicaly low-spec, and can be difficult to run non-ChromeOS on it. Whereas a Windows laptop can be easily recycled/upgraded into a Linux laptop.

      1. MrDamage Silver badge

        Re: Bad for the environment?

        Not that difficult.

        https://mrchromebox.tech/

        I've gone along and done dozens, as well as Chromeboxes.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Bad for the environment?

          From your own source:

          Buying any Chromebook with the intention of running Windows or Linux is not a great idea. Many can't boot anything other than ChromeOS; Those that can boot Linux (or Windows) often have functional deficiencies -- DO NOT EXPECT EVERYTHING TO WORK OUT OF THE BOX. Older models may fair better compatibility wise, but there are still lots of caveats, and it's not recommended to buy a Chromebook as a cheap Linux device.

          Ringing endorsement there.

          1. Handy Plough

            Re: Bad for the environment?

            To be fair, that is true of most laptops with regards to Linux...

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: Bad for the environment?

              Not in my experience. I frequently take Windows laptops and run Linux on them. Booting it is a matter of plugging in my USB disk and figuring which of the function keys opens the boot menu on this model. I haven't had a problem booting it on any machine in many years. Once it's booted, there can be some more problems like lack of WiFi drivers or similar, but not only is that usually fixable without too much effort, but I can fix it inside a running Linux rather than fighting with the bootloader to get that far. Admittedly, I have not had Chromebooks to test that on, but the instructions for getting it started often include a significantly more involved process to get it to boot to my drive in the first place, whatever may happen after that.

      2. Smirnov

        Re: Bad for the environment?

        "A Chromebook is typicaly low-spec"

        No, it's not. Not everyone buys computers at a Target Sale or at Walmart, and not all ChromeBook customers work in education.

        ChromeBooks are very common in many larger organizations, also because the TCO is so much lower than with Windows. For example, the lowest ChromeBook config we use are 10th gen i3, 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD, although these days most standard laptops are 11th+ gen quadcore i5 and 256GB SSD. We also use models with fast i7 processors, 16 or 32GB RAM and larger SSDs. All inside business grade laptops (which look and feel the same as any other premium business grade laptop).

      3. Vincent Manis

        Re: Bad for the environment?

        I don't know, on a Chromebook, I just go to Settings > Developer, and enable the Linux environment. This gives me an almost complete Debian system (there are a few limitations) on which I happily run Emacs, TeX, Inkscape, Gcc, and Chez Scheme. Chromebooks are admittedly not powerful machines, and I can point to various defects and limitations of this setup, but it works for me. In fact, a Lenovo Chromebook tablet with an external mech keyboard and trackball is my preferred travel/writing setup.

        There are definitely things I don't care for in ChromeOS (like having to use a Google account), but the ability to run Android programs, Linux programs, and Chrome itself, along with the fact that Google promises updates to that machine until 2031, count for a lot.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Bad for the environment?

      "a Windows laptop which lasts 3-5"

      And you pulled that range from where exactly? If we compare your software support lifetimes, then the minimum Windows support lifetime recently was about 8 years (if you bought a computer in 2017 that can't update to Windows 11), assuming you don't bypass the restriction and update it anyway, assuming you don't pay for the extended support, assuming you don't just install something else on it. For most other machines, including those released a year later, the software support lifespan is quite a bit longer, probably at least 12 years, again with multiple options to extend that. Meanwhile, the increase to ten years from Google is only as of a couple months ago, before which it was 6-8 years, and all the numbers, including the recent 10, start counting from a random date of the manufacturer's choosing which is well before anyone could buy one. In order to defend a Chromebook, you're just making up a number to suggest that other devices expire long before we all know they do.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bad for the environment?

        "And you pulled that range from where exactly?"

        Probably from the average refresh cycles in the corporate world. Which isn't wrong.

        "If we compare your software support lifetimes, then the minimum Windows support lifetime recently was about 8 years (if you bought a computer in 2017 that can't update to Windows 11), assuming you don't bypass the restriction and update it anyway, assuming you don't pay for the extended support, assuming you don't just install something else on it. For most other machines, including those released a year later, the software support lifespan is quite a bit longer, probably at least 12 years, again with multiple options to extend that. "

        Great. 8 years of Windows mainstream support for an OS which is a resource hog and which is increasingly loaded with ads and other monetization features. Which comes on top of an already wobbly software platform which regularly suffers from annoying bugs and botched updates which, more often than not, kill major functionality because the software vendor doesn't really do "QC" any more (that's now the user's job). Updates which also take forever to install and which slow even high end hardware down to a halt.

        Even in your best case scenario (i.e., with overriding Windows 11 hardware checks) that's 12 years of pain, running an OS that is increasingly built as advertising platform and around monetization of users, until they can finally move everyone to the cloud (which is what Microsoft is working towards).

        "Meanwhile, the increase to ten years from Google is only as of a couple months ago, before which it was 6-8 years"

        Actually, it was 8 years, and has been for a while.

        "and all the numbers, including the recent 10, start counting from a random date of the manufacturer's choosing which is well before anyone could buy one."

        True (although the date is not random, it's based on when the computer model was released), and vendors and especially stores need to be more forthcoming about the AUE date, which is a problem especially in the consumer space (less so for businesses, as they don't tend to buy older hardware, also admins usually know their shit and check the AUE date for specific models with the manufacturer or on the Google website before buying).

        "In order to defend a Chromebook, you're just making up a number to suggest that other devices expire long before we all know they do."

        The number sounds fine to me, at least for business use (which makes up the majority of PC sales). Clearly, you're looking at this from a different angle (home user/hobbyist), so YMMV.

        In any case, 8 or 10 years of support is more than enough for a laptop, a mobile computer which is often exposed to rough handling and other abuse (more so than a desktop), which is rarely expandable in a way that makes financial sense, and which is dependent proprietary parts like batteries which are expensive consumables that degrade whether they are used or not.

        1. Yankee Doodle Doofus Bronze badge

          Re: Bad for the environment?

          You say the 8 to 10 year number for chromebooks (based on the years of support) sounds fine to you, but you think the number for Windows machines should be based on average corporate refresh cycles instead of the years of support? What are you smoking? Do you think schools and corporations are actually holding onto chromebooks for 8 to 10 years?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Bad for the environment?

            "You say the 8 to 10 year number for chromebooks (based on the years of support) sounds fine to you, but you think the number for Windows machines should be based on average corporate refresh cycles instead of the years of support? What are you smoking? Do you think schools and corporations are actually holding onto chromebooks for 8 to 10 years?"

            Seems your user name checks out because you clearly need do to some work on basic reading comprehension. I never wrote anything like that.

            All I have been saying is 8-10 years of ChromeOS support is fine because, no matter the OS, a 10 year old laptop is rarely something that is worth using or re-purposing. Even good laptops are pretty much done after a decade of use in a typical laptop scenario (which isn't anything like the life of a couch potato), and much younger 2nd hand ex-leasing laptops, even in good condition, are a dime a dozen.

            The business refresh cycles of 3-6 years is only relevant in a way that the AUE date doesn't matter for them, as business will be on their 2nd or 3rd refresh by the time the AUE hits. So no, I'm not saying corporations are holding on to ChromeBooks for 8-10 years, and the same is true for schools (although some have longer refresh cycles than businesses, depending on how they are funded).

            Nor did I suggest that the number of years Windows should be supported should be based on "average corporate refresh cycles instead of the years of support" (WTF?). Not sure how you came to that conclusion (and I certainly don't want to know, but I'm sure it took some serious mental pretzeling). Which, makes absolutely no sense at all, but here we are.

            Windows support most certainly should be measured in years, also because, unlike the ChromeBook AUE, the Windows end of support is very often very important for businesses. Because with Windows, cost and complexity for a version upgrade are a lot higher than with ChromeBooks (where many problems of the Windows world don't exist).

            The only reason we even have paid-for extended support for obsolete Windows versions is that organizations are able to kick the can down the road for something which should have been planned and executed a long time ago for a while longer.

            1. Yankee Doodle Doofus Bronze badge

              Re: Bad for the environment?

              I could have worded things better, I'm sure. I did not mean to suggest that you were saying Windows SUPPORT should be based on average refresh cycles. You did state that the AC who doublelayer was responding to probably got their 3-5 year number for the LIFE of a Windows machine from refresh cycles. That same AC argued that a chromebook lasts much longer, and doublelayer was (I think) pointing out that if we are looking at length of OS support (which seems to be where they got the longer number for chromebooks), Windows machines often match or exceed the support life of chromebooks. If we are looking at the actual length of use, then refresh cycles would be a reasonable measurement, but no evidence has been presented for chromebooks being refreshed on an 8-10 year cycle. I would assume that in practice they are refreshed on a cycle of similar length as Windows laptops. So either the other AC was using different metrics for chromebooks and Windows machines, or they pulled numbers from their ass. You seemed to be arguing with doublelayer that the AC he/she was responding to was indeed using fair numbers in their assessment of machine lifespans. If that is not what you were arguing, then I apologize, but in that case perhaps you should have worded things differently as well, because that's totally how it came across. People like to jump straight to criticizing the reading comprehension of others, when often they should be wondering how they could have been more clear in their writing.

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Bad for the environment?

          "Even in your best case scenario (i.e., with overriding Windows 11 hardware checks) that's 12 years"

          No, you misread that. That's the support lifetimes for machines released with hardware support for Windows 11, at least, with no bypasses required. If you allow hardware bypasses, the number goes up quite a lot from there.

          And your opinion of the quality of Windows is not the issue here any more than my complaints about the content of Chrome OS are. You'll note that I didn't even state those in my comparison. People who accept running Windows get a certain number of years of support, and it is not the number that was made up.

          My attitude is not only for personal use, where I do not replace my laptops after 3, 5, or 8 years. It is also based on places with which I have worked or volunteered which don't replace machines that frequently either. I have seen some businesses replacing computers on a 4-year cycle, and although they decided to do it, it never made sense to me as the machines they were discarding were all completely fine, whether they were Windows, Mac, or Linux devices (I have never worked anywhere that used Chromebooks). It always struck me as completely wasteful. Everywhere else I have been involved with tends to let the hardware continue running until there's a problem with it. Many of those use devices in a relatively stationary way, meaning mechanical damage is rarely the cause, with component failure and software support being the most likely reasons for disposal.

    3. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Bad for the environment?

      "surely better for the environment than a Windows laptop which lasts 3-5 [years]"

      All my laptops are well over 5 years old, even the one that runs (aaaaaarrrrrrrghhh!!!!) windows 10, and they all still work fine. All I've needed for a couple is replacement batteries as one died and one fell below 50% capacity.

    4. Col_Panek

      Re: Bad for the environment?

      I hope you're wrong about the 10 year lifespan, because I use my 2013 Pixel all the time. It runs Linux Mint 21.2.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And for users. You can get a proper laptop that can run a full OS for the same money.

    1. vtcodger Silver badge

      Chromebooks

      If you can buy a "proper laptop" for the same money, by all means do so. But I doubt you can. Chromebooks -- especially used ones or older models --are really, really cheap. The internet tells me that Walmart has one new for under $50 US.

      Are they good for anything? Out of the box, they seem to be OK for email, web surfing, and probably for most schoolwork. I assume that many of the apps in the Chrome Web Store actually work although I've never tried one.

      BTW, Linux will run after a fashion on top of ChromeOS via Crouton or Crostini. There are purportedly some Linux distributions that can replace ChromeOS. Don't know how well they work.

      The drawbacks -- the OS is nowhere near as easy to customize as Linux or even Windows. And Google is presumably spying on every action you take -- which may well be worse than Microsoft spying on your Windows PC.

      1. WanderingHaggis

        Re: Chromebooks

        Do you want a Billy Bunter customising it -- not if you're responsible to maintain it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Chromebooks

        "Are they good for anything? Out of the box, they seem to be OK for email, web surfing, and probably for most schoolwork. I assume that many of the apps in the Chrome Web Store actually work although I've never tried one."

        If you're talking about Android apps, most of the ones we tried work surprisingly well (especially the more common ones), although there's still the question of security with apps from Google Play.

        "BTW, Linux will run after a fashion on top of ChromeOS via Crouton or Crostini. There are purportedly some Linux distributions that can replace ChromeOS. Don't know how well they work."

        Actually, it works very well. We have clients who do major software development work on ChromeBooks, and some also run Windows apps like Sparx Enterprise Architect in Crossover for ChromeOS (which is the commercially supported version of Wine). There are limits if you need direct hardware access (e.g. USB devices) as Crostini prevents this (although USB storage media can be passed through), but for most other things it works surprisingly well.

        "And Google is presumably spying on every action you take -- which may well be worse than Microsoft spying on your Windows PC."

        Actually, that's not correct. Google gets telemetry from ChromeOS (the majority of which is from Chrome) but much more limited than Microsoft gets from Windows. Google also stopped processing email content years ago, something Microsoft has been doing with Outlook.com and now, with the new Outlook client that routes 3rd party email through Microsoft's servers, is unlikely to end that practice.

        ChromeOS also lacks all the user monetization (such as Shopping with Microsoft), and doesn't serve ads in ChromeOS.

        It's still Google, of course, but if you're OK with what Microsoft does then ChromeOS will actually be an improvement.

      3. Col_Panek

        Re: Chromebooks

        I started with GalliumOS, which was optimized for Chromebooks. The project has stalled, but the website contains a lot of good info on de-Googling your Chromebook.

        I then went to Kubuntu, which ran OK except for the sound. There was an issue with headphones not cutting off the speakers, or something. Nowadays I run Mint, which installed and ran just like any other machine. But I remapped the function buttons to my liking.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >You can get a proper laptop that can run a full OS for the same money

      You can run VMS in a laptop now?

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        VMS (at least OpenVMS) on a laptop.

        Why, yes! As El. Reg. reported here.

        Don't know exactly what spec. you need, but it will have to be x86-64, but most laptops have been this for ages.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: VMS (at least OpenVMS) on a laptop.

          Still not the same unless you are logging in from a VT220

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: VMS (at least OpenVMS) on a laptop.

            Or sitting on it if it's a MicroVAX ....

          2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Re: VMS (at least OpenVMS) on a laptop.

            I've not actually looked into exactly what it provides, but you can still get USB->Serial adaptors if you have a spare working vt220 knocking about. Plus, I'll bet that you can access it across a network, although I guess it will be over TCP/IP rather than LAT (don't know whether DECnet support is included in the base system, nor would I know how to use LAT from another non-DEC system). I know that SSH is available as an 3rd party add-on, but that may cost money.

            I was pointed at cool-retro-term on Linux for that real old-school feel. It seems to be in most repositories.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: VMS (at least OpenVMS) on a laptop.

              Now where can I find that ASCII art steam train to run across the bottom of the screen for Xmas.

    3. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      To get a usable Windows laptop you typically have to pay a good 50% more than a comparable Chromebook in the UK.

      The bottom end of the Windows ecosystem sucks, from new, but after a few applications installed and a year of patching crud you really regret to ponying up for something with a damn sight more RAM and SSD.

  5. Tron Silver badge

    Chromebooks sell to education...

    ... because they are limited. There is a reasonable assurance that the little shi..., er, rascals won't use them to create their own ransomware, or start a porn site, pimping their classmates.

    Computers are best matched to their users. We have powerful PCs, kids have Chromebooks, politicians should have dumb terminals.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Chromebooks sell to education...

      >Computers are best matched to their users. We have powerful PCs, kids have Chromebooks,

      Because most Windows users are switching between training AI large language models and doing protein folding simulations on their laptops

      If you made a Chromebook screensaver that flipped between an empty opened PowerPoint and a screenshot of Outlook.office.com 98.7% (*) of Windows users wouldn't notice a difference

      * Note 86% of all statistics are made up on the spot, the other 75% are form Gardner

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Chromebooks sell to education...

        The minute Microsoft releases a cross platform build of Outlook...we'll see lots of interesting shit happen in the PC space.

        With Office you can almost convince most people to switch to an alternative...because they don't use most of the features available in Office...but Outlook...that's always been difficult.

        For the vast majority of regular folks with regular jobs...Outlook is the last app that needs to be cross platform to cause a jump to something else...be it Linux, Chromebooks etc.

        There is absolutely no reason for Outlook to not work on other platforms...Microsoft just won't do it. They're scared of it.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Chromebooks sell to education...

          Most corporate don't use Outlook locally anymore.

          Our $MegaCorp$ parent has everything on O365, which is nice cos you can do all the email/teams/onenote from a Linux desktop

          I'm pretty sure Windows12 will just be a Chromebook running Edge

          1. Handy Plough

            Re: Chromebooks sell to education...

            As omeone that works with F500 organisations specifically in the field of email security, "Most corporate don't use Outlook locally anymore." is very much a case of 'citation needed'.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Chromebooks sell to education...

            That's just not true. The centre of most organisations is Outlook...specifically for the calendaring and meeting invites etc etc etc.

            $CRM, hooks into Outlook, $meeting_room_management software hooks into Outlook, the screens on the wall outside the rooms hook into Outlook etc etc etc.

            If the file server goes down, no worries, people will work "locally" for a little while...if Outlook stops working, people lose their fucking minds because they now haven't got a clue what is happening with their day. Where they are supposed to be etc etc.

            Outlook is the monolith that all the chimps gather around. It's been this way for decades.

        2. Blue Pumpkin

          Re: Chromebooks sell to education...

          Outlook is available on the Mac.

          And it's an even bigger piece of crap than the Windows version, despite having been around for over 15 years ... so I wouldn't get your hopes up.

          Thankfully Microsoft does (or did) a version of Office without Outlook that they charge less for ...

  6. IGnatius T Foobar !

    For the same price...

    I've got a ten year old laptop that can competently do everything a Chromebook can do, and at roughly the same speed. For the same price as a Chromebook you can get an old laptop. Yes, I'm running Linux on it. The OS is your choice. It's the same thing as netbooks of old -- didn't el reg call them "weaktops" for a reason?

  7. Freddellmeister

    Lenovo Chromebooks sucks, I had a decent Thinkpad 13 chromebook, but later models are simply too simple or convoluted compared to the competition. Step up and put some effort into your offering.

  8. Groo The Wanderer Silver badge

    I fail to see why they would expect me to tie my PC to a so-called smart phone. (Dumbest invention ever, short of the Tesla Truck and the Edsel.)

  9. Barnstormer

    A first verifiable case of brown washing?

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