Chrome OS vs Windows – Which Comes on Top?
Windows isn’t the only viable operating system. Most laptop and PC users have at least two more operating systems to choose from: macOS and Chrome OS. Of course, we also have Linux and Ubuntu, but they belong to a more niche category. While differences between Windows and macOS are pretty obvious, deciding between Chrome OS and Windows is not that straightforward.
ChromeOS isn’t nearly as popular as the two mentioned above, so your choice should depend on your needs. Is it even worth investing in Chromebook? Does it perform better than Windows? Is it faster? This article will answer all your questions regarding Google’s Chrome OS.
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Chromebooks vs Laptops/PCs
Software-wise, Chrome OS is a genuinely lightweight operating system when compared with Windows and macOS. It was achieved thanks to web-based processes and the Chrome app. However, you can't install any third-party software as you do on Windows and macOS. Chrome OS only supports apps installed via Google Play Store or Chrome Web Store.
Regarding hardware, Chromebooks have come a long way since 2011. There’s finally a compelling selection of laptops to choose from, whether you’re looking for a premium or low-end machine. You can visit Amazon’s Chromebook page, where you will find plenty of Chromebooks to choose from, starting from as low as $100.
To settle the competition, we will compare both operating systems in standard use cases and functionality. Below you’ll find the comparison between 8 important things users can expect from any operating system.
You can have the quickest and most powerful system flooded with functions, but without a proper interface, you won't be able to do much about it. Luckily, the interface of the two operating systems has much in common, so switching between one and the other isn’t hard. Chrome OS is a Linux-based system, and its interface resembles bold Android elements. For example, app icons, notifications, and quick settings are aimed at Android users so they feel right at home.
On the other hand, Windows defines the basic look of any system UI and is widely recognizable worldwide. The start menu is the iconic element of Windows UI, and other systems are also incorporating this solution. Considering the minimalism, Chrome OS definitely takes the crown here. However, any system UI is highly subjective, so you can’t make a bad choice here.
This section is pretty straightforward. Chrome OS doesn’t support any third-party programs, making it less versatile. However, having a web-based system has its benefits. You don’t have to worry about all that junk that Windows brings only to take storage space. It’s also noticeably faster thanks to this approach as it isn’t weighed down by dozens of processes running in the background.
On the flip side, legacy Windows or macOS programs are incompatible, and you can only rely on web apps. However, if you’re working with Google’s ecosystem daily, it shouldn’t be a problem. Chrome OS supports all sorts of Google apps, including Google Chrome browser, Google Assistant, Google Drive, Google Docs, etc. It’s like an Android device in the form of a laptop with complete app support.
The other good news is you can run Linux-based programs on Chrome OS. Unfortunately, not all of them will work, but the most popular ones do, which is fantastic. You can try running other programs, but it requires some tweaking that is reserved for more advanced users. A regular consumer wants everything to be up and running, so in this regard, Windows outclasses ChromeOS.
System Support and Updates
Windows is widely known for the prolonged support of its systems. Windows 7, released in 2009, was supported until 2020, meaning it received updates for 11 years! Despite the release of Windows 11, many users are still tied to Windows 10 (including myself). The system support is scheduled to end in 2025, but judging by their previous update track records, it will likely last longer.
Google announced that Chromebooks launched after 2020 could count on eight years of support and security updates. It seems plenty, but it looks rather bland compared to Microsoft. Some people are still using a decade-old Windows laptop, and they’re still receiving updates. Not only laptops but all Windows machines benefit from such extended support. Eight years on Chrome OS is simply not enough.
It’s hard to talk about the performance of both systems since they are optimized differently and run on completely different hardware. Chrome OS is perfectly fine on the cheapest Chromebooks with 4GB of RAM and Intel Celeron CPUs. On the other hand, Microsoft recommends at least 4GB of RAM and 40GB of storage. But let’s be honest; running Windows while barely meeting the minimum specs is suicide.
For basic tasks like creating documents, watching videos, and surfing the internet Chrome OS performs flawlessly. But if you opt for more personalized usage and have powerful enough hardware, Windows will run as smoothly. TLDR, Chrome OS performs fast on weaker hardware, while Windows requires something better.
Winner: Chrome OS
There are a few key differences between Windows and Chrome OS gaming. First of all, there is no such thing as a gaming Chromebook. However, you can access Android games, Android apps, Chrome apps, and even cloud gaming services. And cloud gaming is the only way to experience AAA titles since they’re not natively supported on Chrome OS devices.
Chromebooks are aimed at regular users who occasionally play simple, non-demanding games, and even the most expensive Chromebooks are no different here. And since there is no third-party program support, gaming platforms like Steam, Origin, Uplay, GOG, etc., aren’t supported by Google’s operating system.
Windows machine is a different story, though. Besides gaming consoles, Windows PCs are the obvious choice among casual and hardcore gamers. Most of them are Windows users since most games are released on this system, and it has plenty of gaming features built into the system.
Microsoft Store offers plenty of AAA games, like Forza Horizon 5, Gears of War, and many more. You can also run Android apps and basically everything available on Chrome OS. Not to mention that plenty of Windows laptops are specifically made for gaming. In this regard, Microsoft Windows has been the leading choice among most gamers, and it will not change for a long time.
A traditional folder of files is the most standardized file management system. Windows has been using it since the very beginning, and other operating systems work similarly. You can have files on your desktop, pin them to the taskbar and create as many folders as you like. It also has built-in cloud storage called OneDrive, so you don’t have to keep everything on your physical drive.
Chrome OS works very similarly to that, as stated in the User Interface section. However, the main drawback here is the limited storage space. The cheapest Chromebooks will offer as little as 32GB of local storage and 15GB of cloud storage for free. Using cloud services is inevitable, and it’s hard to understand why Google decided to cut on internal storage space.
On the flip side, even the most budget laptop with Windows will offer up to 1TB of internal storage and additional 15GB of cloud storage for free with a Microsoft account. You’re getting more for less. For people that want to keep photos, videos, and other space-demanding files, a Windows laptop or PC is a better value. Chromebook users would need to pay significantly more for similar specs.
Windows is the standard choice for productivity. With the Microsoft Office package, you’re getting everything you’ll ever need for working with documents. Also, some programs like AutoCAD can’t run on Chromebook since it’s only compatible with Windows. Not only that, but you can use any third-party program you can imagine.
Chrome OS also has access to Windows’ Office suite in the form of Android apps or through a web browser. And these options require you to be online all the time, so they don’t work in places without an internet connection. You can create and edit documents offline if you have bought an Office suite for ChromeOS, including Word, Excel, and Powerpoint.
For video and photo editing, Chrome OS is a poor choice. The best you can get is Adobe Lightroom as an Android app, and a solid video editor is non-existent. Chromebook owners are at a complete disadvantage in this regard. You’re getting productivity value no better than a typical Android phone. In summary, even budget machines with Windows installed are better for productivity, even if your work is tied entirely to Google Workspace.
Chromebooks are priced competitively compared to Windows laptops. But Microsoft took the initiative and made Windows devices more affordable, so the gap in pricing is not as intrusive.
For example, you can get Asus Chromebook Flip C302 for $140, sporting 64GB of storage, 4GB RAM, a full HD touch screen, and decent battery life. Apart from poor internal storage, other specs are perfectly fine, and you don’t need powerful hardware to run everything smoothly.
For the Windows alternative, you can get HP Stream 14, which has the same storage and RAM and a bigger screen but in HD resolution. Additionally, you will get a 1-year subscription to Office 365. It’s slightly more expensive, costing around $255, but you're getting a more versatile machine overall.
However, Google is offering free stuff for each Chromebook. You’re getting 100GB of OneDrive storage for a limited time, 90 days of Google Play Music, and three free movies from Google Play. Microsoft’s deals may vary from vendor to vendor, but you’re usually getting a one-year subscription to Office 365. If you’re looking for a budget device for productivity, this subscription is more desirable than goodies from Google.
Also, Windows can be installed on almost every device, and you can buy the key separately. At RoyalCDKeys, you will find Windows 11 Home Retail CD Key for less than $4, which is a bargain. It means you can buy a laptop or PC without an operating system, buy it from us and install it yourself, saving $.
Chrome OS: 2
Windows outclassed Chrome OS in our competition, which was expected. It offers more in almost every aspect: productivity, gaming, system support, value, etc. The only areas where Chrome OS can compete are performance and user interface since it's less demanding to run than Windows, and some people may find its interface more intuitive.
Chromebooks are great for cloud users and those wanting a simple yet secure environment to work on. However, Windows is the way to go if you want power and versatility.