|>>|| No. 23800
I'm a professional software developer and demand a lot from my computers, but I absolutely love Chrome OS and think that it is the next big wave in personal computing. All of the ten highest-rated laptops on Amazon are Chromebooks, and they're representing a rapidly growing proportion of laptop sales. They are incredibly slick and well-engineered, and are far less limited than you might imagine. They don't suit everyone yet, but the loss of functionality is more than compensated for by the lack of hassle compared to other operating systems.
Chromebooks are far from useless without an internet connection - apps can be downloaded from the Chrome Store and used offline, and they will automatically sync with any cloud services as soon as they get a connection. If I'm sitting on a train without a net connection, I can read and reply to e-mail messages or edit documents, and everything will sync up seamlessly.
The range of software is still limited compared to Windows or Mac OS, but it's growing all the time and there are lots of surprisingly powerful programs. There are fully-featured audio, video and photo editors, for example. All of the big media services like Spotify and Netflix work, and you can even use BitTorrent and play media files from local storage. If you need Microsoft Office, you can access that via their cloud-based Office 365 service. I have no problem doing real software development work on a Chromebook - I have all the tools I need to edit files and connect to remote servers, and can do a surprising amount of work offline.
Chrome OS is by far the most secure and reliable operating system out there, including other versions of Linux. Because all software runs within the Chrome environment, it is strictly sandboxed. The whole disk is encrypted by default and Chrome OS supports two-factor authentication. Secure Boot verifies the integrity of all system software against keys stored in read-only memory, and will fetch and reinstall anything that becomes corrupted. If something goes catastrophically wrong, your Chromebook can just securely wipe the local storage and recover everything from the cloud. It's now standard advice to use a Chromebook when doing business in China, because nothing else is as resistant to tampering.
Chrome OS isn't yet a complete replacement for a fully featured OS, but the gap is narrowing quickly and they're already a compelling alternative for many people. Chromebooks are now my default recommendation for anyone who isn't reliant on a specific piece of software. They're cheap, they get great battery life, and they're a pleasure to use. They're great for non-technical users, but they also make a brilliant secondary computer if you already have a decent desktop.