Last week when I walked in the office on Tuesday morning, I saw a small brown box sitting on my desk with a yellow sticky note – “Here is your Chromebook for the road test”. Then and there I knew that I may have brief separation from my trusted Windows laptop for at least for next few weeks. I like give new end user computing devices what I call the ultimate test of usability. I make it my only computing device for 2-3 weeks. This gives me all the information I need to draw a profile of end users that will be able to adopt the device and how to reconfiguration of IT support services to support those users. Chromebook is Google’s version of a true Cloud Client that is based on Chrome OS. That boasts to do nothing but Web. You can turn it on instantaneously – within 8 seconds – and start running your cloud based applications. It is always connected either by Wi-Fi or by pay as you go 3G connectivity with Verizon. With its all day battery life, you do not have to lug your power supply with you. With its minimal os software and built in security, one does not elaborate patching cycles . Google is aiming at enterprise market, and hoping to replace a large portion of Windows desktops and laptops. Google claims that it will improve end user productivity (therefore satisfaction) and reduce total cost of ownership. Validation of this for our company starts with me
The chromebook may not make sense for people who use locally stored application, but I am one of those Cloud-liberated souls, almost everything I do is in cloud. Majority of my time is spent on cloud based applications, Google Apps, Evernote, Oracle CRM-on-Demand, Concur etc. Even most of the enterprise applications that I use such as Peoplesoft HCM are web based. That mean for most of the time, I should be able to use the Chromebook. I understand from my Google contacts that a HTML5 based VmView client is expected to be released soon. Once released, I should be able to use Chromebook use for all my need. Next couple weeks should help me prove this theory.
The device I am testing is Google CR-48, the Chromebook prototype by Google. The box had only three items power supply, battery and Chromebook. The unit is nice and slim, unit about 3.8 lbs. That is a good load lesser than my 5.3 lbs Dell D630. I snapped in the battery and powered on the unit. Within less than 3 minutes, the Chormebook was ready to serve me. This is where I faced my first problem. The Chrome OS and our corporate NAC were playing chicken and egg game of security clearance. I decided to try later at home. In the evening at home, things went much easier. It detected my the network and I was able to set up the security information for completing the secure access. Setting up of the Verizon was also very easy. Within about 15 minutes I was connected. Rest of last week I have been using the CR-48 along with my Laptop and Xoom tablet. I even took it on road trip and used in one of my presentations by connecting it to the overhead projector.
After few days of significant use, I am getting used to my CR-48. The screen is nice, crisp and easy to read. The Keyboard layout is somewhat different than standard PC. Typing without DEL or CAPS LOCK keys is bit annoying but one can get used to it. And yes, it does boot in about 8 seconds. I was able to log in to both of my Google accounts ( Work, personal ) in two different tabs. I also downloaded few apps including the “Angry Birds” (and it works offline therefore great for plane rides.).
This week will be more serious test for my Chromebook. I will be taking it every place I would have taken my laptop. The VM View client is not yet available for Chrome OS so I do expect some challenges. I would share those with you in next week.