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Chrome OS and Windows RT neck and neck in slow bike race

by Mark Tyson on 17 April 2013, 12:15

Tags: Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)

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Chromebooks (powered by Chrome OS) debuted nearly two years ago with a couple of hardware options from Samsung and ASUS being made available at that time. Windows RT has only been available on devices for about five months but has already gained a similar market share. Which one of these platforms is most often described as a failure, or a dead duck?

Neck and neck at the back of the pack

New usage figures for the two rival platforms from Net Applications show that Chrome OS and Windows RT are struggling at the bottom of the real-world usage charts. The latest 2013 usage figures put Chromebooks as accounting for 0.023 per cent “weighted worldwide usage”. These are the first figures for Chrome OS, Cnet was informed by Net Applications that “Because it rounds to less than 0.1 percent it’s not showing up in our reports”. Significantly, this is a smaller market share percentage than Windows RT devices achieved in the most recently published figures.

Windows RT

Windows RT has only been available on devices for about 5 months, debuting on the Microsoft Surface. HEXUS reviewed the Microsoft Surface with Windows RT in November, shortly after its launch. At that time Windows Modern UI apps were much less numerous than they are now but the Surface machine/OS showed potential, earning 3.5/5.

It didn’t take very long for quite a lot of Windows RT doubts to emerge from various computer industry reports. Surface tablet sales were said to be much lower than expected and other computer system makers seemingly took it in turns to announce that they were not launching Windows RT hardware, were cancelling Windows RT devices or choosing to delay the decision. For consumers Windows RT devices do tend to be more expensive due to the touchscreen requirement and also the price of the OS from Microsoft.


Meanwhile over in Chrome OS land, everyone is optimistic and looking to the future to when Chromebooks take over from even the full-fat variety of Windows computers. Companies which eschewed or deserted Windows RT, like Acer and Samsung respectively, seem willing to develop and refine devices for Google’s Chrome OS. Meanwhile Windows PC stalwarts Lenovo and HP have announced Chromebooks this year because of what they see as pent-up demand and a prosperous future for the Google OS.

Also other very encouraging figures from Google have helped put a positive spin on the Chomebook “success”. In the blog post announcing the expensive Google Pixel Chromebook, Linus Upson, Vice President, Engineering at Google dropped in a couple of impressive sales stats. He wrote that “The momentum has been remarkable: the Samsung Chromebook has been #1 on Amazon’s bestseller list for laptops every day since it launched 125 days ago in the U.S., and Chromebooks now represent more than 10 percent of notebook sales at Currys PC World, the largest electronics retailer in the U.K.”

Something doesn’t really add up in all these statistics, Net Applications analysis seems to go against Google and its hardware partners’ optimism, after nearly two years of Chromebook availability. Hopefully further figures will emerge from other market analysis firms and from investor reports to show us more clearly what direction consumers are moving in.

HEXUS Forums :: 12 Comments

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Chrome OS has been out for much longer, on devices that cost about half what the cheapest RT device costs.

Chrome OS has also been aggressively marketed on YouTube for quite some time. However I really doubt it will die, Google want to hedge their bets and having an OS they dominate the design of is a very good way of doing this. Myself I'd rather give up the internet completely than use Chrome OS, so maybe I'm biased.
Couldn't agree more TheAnimus. I un-installed Google Chrome due to the way Google used it as spyware, and wouldn't even dream of giving them access to more info by using it as my OS.

Still, I am surprised both have such a small market share…
I'm going to show my ignorance here and say that I can't really see the point to either of these two “products”
- why go for ChromeOS when Android is more widely supported and seems to do the same job
- why go for WindowsRT, when Android/iPad are either the same price, or cheaper, and far better supported.

If I was asked to nominate a “raspberry” award for OS's then I think ChromeOS would get it. WindowsRT at least I can see a use for - as an introduction to touch/portable Windows8 - but I think Microsoft screwed it up royally by going for premium pricing. If the Surface had been a LOT cheaper - e.g. £200-250 - then I'm pretty sure that it'd be more widespread. What Microsoft need is an RT equivalent of the Nexus tablets (imho) - no tweaks, basic and inexpensive.

That Google were pushing ChromeOS as always-connected seemed like a major fubar to me. As someone I know pointed out - you can buy a basic netbook from Argos, flush the WindowsXP etc from it and slap something like Ubuntu or Mint on it and get a device that's quite happy to operate sans-network and has a good range of software available. And that's for less than the price of a Chromebook.
Chromebook is fine, the Samsung Series 5 with SSD is a lovely little thing…fast on and fast off and the battery lasts a long time even keeps it's charge.
I'm kind of surprised that ChromeOS has *any* market share really, we are just not ready as a world to move back to the mainframe/terminal style of working yet, and Google apps are still years away from being even remotely as usable as Office/OpenOffice (forget features - talking usability). You are still much better off with an Android device for any of the chromeOS use-cases imo, which is also why I find it a bit strange that Google are still pushing/supporting them when they already have a suitable OS offering that is much more widespread.

Windows RT on the other hand I am slowly coming around to..i'm now using Windows 8 on my work machine day to day, and although it was originally an effort I have forced myself into using more and more of metro. I still think it's ugly and hate the “metro styling” of only showing half a word on the screen, but I am finding it more and more usable..this is without touch (for the moment - 1 month until LEAP arrives!). I use metro for all my instant messaging and calendar requirements now (Sadly the lack of outlook means I still need to use the desktop).

OK so that is the full fat windows 8, but I can certainly see the potential for RT..if the price was right. Simply put - if Microsoft released Surface at the same price as ChromeOS it would have sold bucketloads and I would certainly buy one as a companion tablet..but right now it's just too expensive for what you get. It wouldn't replace my laptop, and it wouldn't replace my iPad mini, but it would be a nice enough halfway house between the two.