Chromebook vs. Windows: How Do They Compare?

Woman working on laptop work from home

Chromebook vs. Windows: How Do They Compare?

If you are shopping around for a new laptop, you may be tempted by a Chromebook. Ever since the first Chromebooks came out over ten years ago, they have been making waves in the personal computer industry. Chromebooks are designed to be a simple and more user-friendly experience, but how do they compare to Windows computers?

Since Windows has been around for so long, it has become an industry standard. If you are working in an office, your work computers may be running Windows. Furthermore, Windows is used in companies worldwide, so maintaining compatibility with your work computer is a major reason to stick with it. Despite this, Windows is not necessarily better than a Chromebook. 

Before you hastily buy a new computer, it pays to do some research first. In today’s article, we are going to dive into the differences between Chromebooks and Windows so we can figure out the strengths and weaknesses of each platform. By the end of this article, you’ll have an idea of which system is ideal for you. Let’s get started!

Chromebook vs. Windows: 6 Must-Know Facts

  • Windows was first released in 1985 and has gone through many versions.
  • Chromebooks run Chrome OS, which is a specially designed operating system.
  • Windows is a more full-featured operating system with more capabilities.
  • Chromebooks are designed to be fast, light, and secure.
  • Chromebooks stand out by providing a super low-cost computing experience.
  • Unlike Windows, which works offline, most Chromebooks can only be used online.

Chromebook vs. Windows: A Side-by-Side Comparison

Chrome OSWindows
Developed byGoogleMicrosoft
CPU Platformsx86, x64, ARM, ARM64IA-32, x86, x64, ARM, ARM64
Package ManagerPortageWindows Installer
LicenseProprietaryProprietary commercial
First Released20111985
Languages UsedC/C++, Python, Rust, JavascriptC#, C/C++, Assembly

Chromebook vs. Windows: What’s the Difference?

Chromebooks cater to a different audience than Windows. This is clear when you consider the price range of most Chromebooks.

With almost every popular Chromebook selling for less than $500, and some for less than $200, they are aimed at the budget-minded consumer. If you need a cheap computer to get online, a Chromebook is the way to go.

On the other hand, Windows computers are notably more expensive. Although inexpensive Windows laptops and desktops are available, most systems are more pricey than Chromebooks. If you need the capabilities offered by a Windows system, it may be worth the added expense.

Chromebooks are built for speed and security, and they’re fantastic for budget-minded people.

What Can Windows Do That Chromebooks Can’t?

Windows enjoys a massive library of compatible software. Programs like Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Cloud, and thousands of others are exclusive to Windows. If you need to work with complex files or do video or audio production, Windows is vastly superior. However, some programs do have alternatives for Chromebooks.

For instance, if you need to access Microsoft Office, you simply need to use the online-only version. Another alternative for the office worker is Google Docs. Most other programs have an online version available, but this brings us to the next limitation of Chromebooks: they are almost strictly cloud-based.

Since Chromebooks need to be online to function, it can be difficult to work in situations requiring offline use. Additionally, installing programs locally onto a Chromebook is out of the question. With very little onboard storage, most Chromebooks are not designed to install programs or apps. This means you must settle for whichever online options are available.

Chromebook vs. Windows: What is the History?

Windows has been around since 1985 and has been shipped on computers ever since. With such a long history, it’s no wonder that Windows is used everywhere. First developed by Microsoft, the first version of Windows was based on Disk Operating System (DOS). Revolutionary at the time, Windows set the stage for what a modern operating system is. Windows still enjoys massive popularity and is the number operating system in the world.

In contrast, Chromebooks have not been around nearly as long. Google initially created the first Chromebooks to compete with “netbooks” or low-end computers. At the time in the early 2010s, it was difficult to find a reliable computer for a reasonable price if all you wanted to use it for was web browsing. Most cheap computers would offer the user a slow and frustrating experience. If you wanted a fast computer, you needed to shell out for a high-performance system.

Chromebooks changed the game, making fast and secure laptops affordable at last. Now, if you wanted a basic computer for web browsing, you could buy something with lightning-fast performance for a low price. Windows computers have now shifted to a relatively higher price point, targeting business users and gamers.

Chromebook vs. Windows: Which is Better for Gaming?

Although Chromebooks are capable of certain types of gaming, Windows is the winner in this category. Thanks to Steam and other game libraries, Windows gives you access to a vast world of gaming. Chromebooks simply can’t compete with Windows computers when it comes to gaming.

It’s important to note that Chromebooks don’t try to be gaming computers. If you are planning to use your computer for gaming, a Windows system will be a much better investment. That’s not to say you can’t play games at all with a Chromebook––there are still online games and android apps. Additionally, light gaming is possible with Chromebooks, but don’t expect to play the same titles you can with a Windows PC.

Windows laptop computer
Windows computers are known for being great for gamers.

Chromebook vs. Windows: Which is Better for School?

Buying a computer for school can be a daunting challenge. If you’re a student, finding a portable solution that can run all of your required apps is paramount. Working with a limited student budget can also put expensive computers out of reach.

The Chromebook shines in this scenario. Not only are Chromebooks designed to be portable, but they also bring numerous additional benefits for students. Office apps like Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides make it easy to save your work in the cloud. Chromebooks can also run Microsoft Office, provided you use the web-based version.

Additionally, Chromebooks are designed to simplify security. Whereas Windows machines can present security holes and potential for malware, Chromebooks have a focus on security. With features like sandboxing, verified boot, and data encryption, Chromebooks ensure security for the user. 

Chromebook vs. Windows: Which is Better for Professionals?

If you use your computer to make money, then having a fast PC that won’t slow you down is essential. Whether you are a graphic designer, video editor, or programmer, a more powerful computer means more money in your pocket. In situations like this, a Chromebook is not often the best choice.

Despite the lower cost of a Chromebook, most professionals will be better served by investing more money into a high-performance Windows machine. With a Windows computer, you’ll be able to run the industry-standard apps that aren’t supported on a Chromebook. Additionally, whereas most Chromebooks are not upgradeable, Windows machines frequently are. If you need to increase your storage or RAM capacity, you can do that with a Windows computer.

For professionals, Windows wins in almost every situation. Yet certain professionals can get away with using a Chromebook. A Chromebook will serve you well if you are an accountant or writer—anything that doesn’t require a high-performance system. Furthermore, a Chromebook’s portability will allow you to work remotely.

Chromebook vs. Windows: Which One is Right for You?

With so many computers to choose from these days, selecting the right one for your situation can be tricky. If you have seen Chromebooks while shopping around, you might be tempted to make the jump to save some money. Before you buy a Chromebook, you should be aware of a few limitations.

Since Chromebooks are designed to be used online, they typically don’t include much local storage. This can make things like saving files difficult. Additionally, most Windows programs won’t be able to run on a Chromebook. However, you shouldn’t write off all Chromebooks, since they do have a few advantages.

A Windows computer might be overkill if all you need is a computer to get online and browse the internet. This is where a Chromebook shines. Chromebooks are ideal for a user with basic computing needs. If you need a powerful system for running professional programs or if you want to download a large number of files, Windows is the way to go. 

Windows computers are also better at gaming, streaming, video editing, and just about everything else. Additionally, Windows computers typically start at a higher price range than Chromebooks. For many users, the best of both worlds may be to simply buy an inexpensive Windows laptop. You can enjoy the portability of a Chromebook while retaining the compatibility and power of a full-size laptop.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Chromebook or Windows better?

Chromebooks are better if you need a simple, inexpensive computer. Windows is better if you need a powerful, full-featured computer.

Can a Chromebook do everything a laptop can do?

A Chromebook can do almost everything a laptop can. Web browsing, social media, online banking, typing documents, and more are all possible with a Chromebook. Windows is superior when it comes to heavier applications like games or production software.

Can you watch Netflix on a Chromebook?

Yes. You can watch Netflix online just like any other computer.

Do Chromebooks need antivirus?

Chromebooks usually don’t need antivirus since the Chrome OS is immune to most types of malware. Installing malicious chrome extensions is possible, but this can be avoided without the need for antivirus software. Additionally, Chromebooks are easy to reset if you encounter any issues.

Can Chromebooks run Microsoft Office?

You can access the web-based version of Office 365, but not the offline version found on Windows PCs.

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