Podcast Audio | Posted by Phil Leigh on November 1, 2012
Last month Samsung introduced a new model of the Google Chromebook laptop computer priced at only $250. It may be the first computer using Google’s Chrome operating system priced aggressively enough to merit serious consideration. It is also a prototype version of a “Post-PC Era” computer.
Chromebook is designed with Cloud computing as its defining characteristic. There is no hard-drive because archival data and applications are maintained in the Internet Cloud on Google servers. Although icons for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and other applications appear on the computer screen in the normal manner, the applicable programs and files are actually located in the Cloud. When owners click-on one of the icons the pertinent program is transported over the Net and downloaded into Chromebook’s solid-state memory where it is cached while in use. Once the work is completed and saved to the “Google Drive”, it is returned over the Net to Google servers where is retained until summoned for use again.
Cloud computing endpoints, such as Google Chromebooks, can be designed without regard to the legacy restrictions of Microsoft or Apple computers. Those units were invented as isolated processors in an era preceding even the Local Area Networks (LANs) that emerged in the late 1980s. Consequently, Cloud computing endpoints can offer a number of advantages.
First, without the need for a hard-drive, they can be inexpensive as evidenced by the $250 Chromebook price tag.
Second, they can use a modern and speedy operating system. A Chromebook start-up time is about ten seconds and the OS is virtually free of malware by comparison to Windows.
Three, when required, program updates can be automatically administered by Google – or whatever software vendor is germane – directly on the servers in the Cloud. This avoids the time-consuming, inconvenient, and sometimes complex need for each user to update software on her computer.
There are two reasons I have not yet purchased a Chromebook. First, is because presently I remain too dependent upon Microsoft applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint for my professional work. While Google’s Word Processing program – Google Docs – offers automatic conversion to Microsoft Word, I am not yet satisfied it will pick-up important nuances that would be showstoppers for me. Second, earlier this year I purchased a MacMini that I’ve attached to my TV for Internet video viewing. Although the Chromebook’s HDMI port could make it a less expensive alternative, there were no models as low as $250 available until last month.
As observed in our previous post, most of us are presently using our next-to-last PC. Whether the Chromebook per se is the wave of the future remains to be seen. But within five years Cloud computing endpoints – perhaps combining the best elements of Chromebook and iPad – shall become the standard office productivity tools.
Perhaps even more importantly, the evolution signifies a transition of computing to a business model that resembles a utility service. For example, instead of producing our own electricity with individual generators in our garages, we rely upon a utility to provide electric service, which we pay for monthly. It generally works better and at less expense, until a megastorm like Sandy comes along.