13 September, 2013

Want your Start menu back? Get a Chromebook

Remember when Microsoft released Windows 8? How the Start button was removed? How they slapped a tablet OS on desktop users? Well, actually, I have never used Windows 8 myself due to switching to Linux (in one form or another) as my main OS back in the Vista years, but that's just me... Anyhow, being a touch-oriented OS, Windows 8 is nearly impossible to use with a mouse and keyboard, isn't it? Sure, Windows 8.1 eventually will bring back a Start button... but instead of opening up a menu, it will simply bring you back to the Start screen, in all its touch-oriented ugliness that leaves anything with a mouse and keyboard painfully in the dust for the majority of users.

All this combined is hurting Microsoft tremendously, causing Windows upgrades to continue to slow to a crawl, with Windows 8 barely making it to 5% of the desktop market (thanks, Apple). Microsoft has even resorted to attack ad campaigns, also to no avail. In alienating its own users, Microsoft execs are digging their own grave for their own business. And now, we have yet one more nail in the Windows coffin: What Microsoft started for itself, Google will finish.

Chrome OS to the rescue. In the latest Dev channel update (version 31.0.1626.3, platform 4670.0.0) on my Acer AC700-1099, there was a change to the Aura interface that's sure to get the attention of Windows users who want their Start menu back: the app launcher button has been moved to the bottom left corner of the screen, right where the Start menu used to be in Windows, as per the below screenshot:

Now, I know what you're thinking: Will I be able to use a Chromebook without an Internet connection at all? Yes, you will. In fact, you'll even be able to have native-like packaged apps installed that function the same way extensions do. Will your MS Office documents and spreadsheets be viewable or editable? You bet. And they are also capable of being converted and uploaded to Google Drive for subsequent editing AND collaboration as well, even offline (provided you set up the offline environment while connected to the Internet first).

Of course, you'll also have the added security that Chrome OS offers, from the read-only (and write-protected) hard drive (or SSD), to Chrome's multi-layer sandboxing, to boot volume verification that even Secure Boot can't rival. And of course, you'll be getting FREE new versions of Chrome OS every 6 weeks pushed right to your Chromebook, no constant update checking required. The 6-8-second boot times are of course a fantastic icing on the cake, and they save any user time that could otherwise be wasted waiting for the computer to boot. So, is anyone else ready for a win-win situation?