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Make way for Chromebooks! Four reasons they're ready to rock in 2015

Chris Hoffman | Jan. 5, 2015
Chromebooks were a punch line...until sales skyrocketed last year. Now Microsoft's fighting back with US$200 laptops. Chris Hoffman explains how Chromebooks turned the tide.

Android users will increasingly want Chromebooks
Android is the most popular computing platform around, and Google is now getting serious about having Chrome OS and Android work together. You'll soon be able to unlock your Chromebook with your Android phone, for example. When the two devices are connected (via Bluetooth), you'll receive notifications about incoming phone calls and be able to see your text messages on your Chromebook. More and more Android apps are running on Chromebooks, and Google wants its applications to have a consistent design across Android and the Web. Expect more integration features to appear throughout 2015.

android apps on a chromebook
Android and Chromebooks, two peas in a pod.

Google's Chromebooks also deserve credit for breaking the back of Microsoft's exclusivity agreements with its PC hardware partners. PC manufacturers used to be scared to make PCs running non-Windows operating systems, but now all the major players are dabbling in Chromebooks. Of course, Chromebooks also have the Windows 8 disaster to thank for some of their momentum, along with the dismay of Microsoft's hardware partners when the company debuted its line of Surface products, directly competing against those partners.

Speaking of which...

Chromebooks vs Windows cheapbooks: Fight!
Microsoft is finally waging a price war against Chromebooks. Witness the HP Stream, the first $200 Windows laptop. It runs Windows 8.1 with Bing, a free operating system for manufacturers of low-cost PCs. (Chrome OS is free for Chromebook manufacturers too, sort of--most hardware makers pay Microsoft licensing fees when they use Chrome OS.)

Make no mistake: Windows 8.1 with Bing, the HP Stream, and all the inexpensive Windows laptops popping up are being driven by Microsoft's desire to compete with Chromebooks. After laughing at Chromebooks with the Scroogled campaign and ridiculous Pawn Stars ad, Microsoft is now fiercely competing.

Even if you prefer Windows to Chrome OS, Chromebooks are helping drag down the price of all laptops--even Windows laptops. In 2015, we'll see more--and better--inexpensive Windows laptops to compete with Chromebooks.

Chromebook hardware should get better and cheaper, too. Behold the 10-point touchscreens, 1080p displays, and Intel Core processors in recent Chromebooks. It's a vicious cycle for computer makers, but a virtuous one for computer buyers.

To infinity, and beyond
Sure, I can't see the future. 2015 may turn out differently for Chrome OS, but I doubt it. After all, Microsoft isn't releasing Windows 10 until "late 2015"--probably sometime in the fall.

That gives Chrome OS nearly an entire additional year to compete against Windows 8.1.  Microsoft likes to proclaim it's sped up the Windows development cycle, but it's looking awfully slow compared to Chrome OS's every-six-weeks cycle.

Here's to the new year!


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