Should Chromebooks be used in a Business?

Chromebooks In The Workplace

This article is an effort to provide an objective source of information about the Chromebook and the ChromeOS Operating System vs. using a Mac or Windows device. We answer some commonly asked questions.


Chromebooks are great for schools and basic web browsing, but can they be used in a small business?

For decades the computer market has been dominated by two types of software platforms: macOS and Microsoft Windows. Both of these operating systems have become well established amongst software and program developers, and are now the mainstream mediums for creating consumer-based products. However, in recent years Google has launched its own operating system onto the market with the introduction of the Chromebook.

Why are some Chromebooks so cheap?

Just like a Windows PC, Chromebooks come in a variety of different configurations. Generally the less expensive the computer, the less powerful it will be. It's important to note that a Chromebook with similar specifications as a Windows PC would run quicker, mainly due to the fact that Chromebooks use ChromeOS which requires fewer resources to run.

Therefore you may not need an Intel i5 or even an i3 in your Chromebook. When looking for a Chromebook, it's important to choose a device that matches your use case. For instance, if you are using it for casual web browsing then you may be perfectly happy with the less expensive and low-end device. But if instead, you are trying to run your eBay business on it, then you may want to spring for an upgraded model.

Why do Chrome computers have smaller hard drives?

The hard drive on a typical Chrome-based device is less than 32GB of storage. Chrome devices are intentionally designed to boot up and shut down very quickly, which is why the operating system only takes up about 7GB of hard drive space. Compare this to Windows 10 that takes up 20GB of memory on the hard drive.

Because of the low memory capacity, Google provides 100GB of cloud storage for free with the purchase of a Chromebook computer. Virtually everything that is done on a Chromebook computer is stored in the Cloud and allows for constant data backups. For example, Google productivity applications and photo libraries are cloud-based and therefore don't take up any space on the hard drive.

Are Chromebooks a good alternative to a PC or even a Mac?

One of the benefits of using a device that runs on the ChromeOS operating system is the increased virus protection over devices that utilize Windows or Mac. Out of the box, the operating system is designed with security in mind.

Since viruses generally need to be installed on the computer, it's highly unlikely that it could be infected by a traditional virus. Because of the simplicity of a Chromebook and the fact that traditional software cannot be installed, a Chromebook is less likely to experience software glitches and corruption due to third-party software.

Can I use Microsoft Office with a Chrome computer?

Yes and no. Out of the box, Chrome devices use Google Apps for creating word processing documents, presentations, and spreadsheets. Files are automatically stored in Google Drive and are periodically being backed up while working within the document.

The files created with Google Apps can be exported into a file format that works with Microsoft Office applications. However, the formatting of the files' contents may not transfer properly. If you need to be able to work within Microsoft Office programs, then there is an alternative method for this available with Microsoft Office 365.

This can be accomplished in 2 ways:

  1. By downloading the Office mobile applications via the Google Play Store, or
  2. Install the Office Online extension from the Chrome Web Store.

These options don't give you the full functionality as their native Microsoft Windows programs but will allow for the ability to work within an Office document.

Can I use my business line software with a Chromebook?

Chromebook devices are designed to run web-based applications only. This means that if a program is designed to run on Microsoft Windows by being installed on the hard drive, then it cannot be used on a Chromebook device.

If your company or small business has a server, you could run your business software through Microsoft Remote Desktop Services. However, Remote Desktop Services requires a dedicated server along with additional software licensing. So setting up a Remote Desktop Server may or may not be worth the additional cost.

Consult an IT professional if you are looking to set up Remote Desktop Services as they will be better able to assist with your unique scenario.

Can I join a Chromebook to a Windows Active Directory Domain?

Google has been trying to push out Chromebooks as an alternative to other operating systems. In doing so, they've recently added the ability to join a Chromebook to a Windows Active Directory Domain Controller.

Currently, this is limited to their enterprise offering, but we're hoping they'll roll this out to small businesses alike. This allows you to centrally manage the device via custom Group Policy Objects provided by Google known as the Chrome OS ADMX templates. You can find more information about the ChromeOS Active Directory Integration here

In Conclusion

While Chromebooks show promise for small business use, they still are generally better suited for consumer needs. Generally speaking, they are unable to meet the computing standards that a small business requires.

Devices in a small business or enterprise environment need to go beyond web-based applications and word processing functionalities. They need to be able to store and process large quantities of data at any given time and be compatible with almost any software.

A majority of business and commercial grade software is developed to work primarily on the Microsoft Windows operating system. This is due to the fact that most commercial developers are creating business-grade software primarily for operating systems that are more widely used. Currently, Microsoft holds the majority of the commercial computing market.

This could eventually change as there's been a steady upward trend in cloud services and computing in recent years. The development of cloud software and web-based applications would give more value to the use of Chromebook in a business network environment. However, this is currently not the case.

The bottom line? The present needs and demands of the business software climate of today aren't ready for a platform like the ChromeOS operating system.

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