Google Chromebooks have seen their success in the education market, but Chrome devices still haven't been able to grab a sizable market share in the enterprise. With the death of XP looming, Chrome devices offer a low-cost alternative for companies looking to transition off old Windows XP machines but are worried about the cost and complexity of upgrading to Windows 8.
Today ASUS unveiled their Chromebox, a $179 desktop version of the Chromebook. Felix Lin, Director of Product Management at Google, called it, "the most compact and powerful Chrome device to date."
The Chromebox is account-based like the Chromebook and users get access to 100GB of Google Drive space. The box has a small SSD and access to four USB 3.0 ports, Bluetooth 4.0, an SD card reader, and it comes with integrated malware and virus protection. At 4.88" x4.88" it is only slightly larger than an Apple TV and can be mounted behind a compatible display using a Vesa mount.
"We firmly believe the ASUS Chromebox addresses the need for an extremely cost effective computing solution in the education, small and medium-sized business and home markets," according to Gary Key, Senior Press Relations manager for ASUS.
With the impending drop of Microsoft support for XP, many firms are looking for a way out. The question is whether or not many organizations in the enterprise space are ready to make the leap to web-based applications. Options like the Citrix Receiver have been available for years and have provided a means for employees to access Windows desktops and applications through devices like iPads and Chromebooks. Last year in a blog post, Citrix even said they were "committed to the Chromebook device."Despite these options, some analysts do not feel that the enterprise is entirely ready to move to the cloud. Steve Kleynhans, Vice President of Mobile and Client Computing Group at Gartner said that clients with a legacy of Windows applications won't see a device like Chromebox as a better option.
"The Chromebox (or Chromebooks) are well suited to organizations who have a 'green field' of new web-based applications and don't have to deal with any legacy of Windows applications," Kleynhans said. "That describes a relatively small group of companies, most of whom are themselves quite small. While the long-term trend is moving towards web-based applications, (a space where Chromebooks/boxes do quite well), most organizations still have a large collection of Windows applications or Windows-dependent applications to deal with. For those organizations, the Chromebox is just another thin client; no better than the existing options from vendors who are better positioned for enterprises (Dell/Wyse, HP)."
Kleynhans mentioned that enterprises have had these remote options for 15 or so years. The use of options like the Citrix Receiver and Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) has seen steady growth, however, Kleynhans noted, " it is seldom used to completely replace local execution of Windows applications and requires an investment in the data center that some companies aren't prepared to make."
Regardless of what option a company chooses when they move on from XP, there will be a culture shift involved. Windows 8 has established itself as an alien entity to regular Windows users. Windows 7 is a more familiar option and would come with an easier transition for companies that wanted to stick with a Windows product. Chrome devices are often low-cost and have the potential to increase collaboration, but they force businesses into the cloud—still an uncharted and misunderstood territory for many companies.
Only time will tell what will replace Windows XP in the 37% of organizations that still don't plan to replace all of their XP machines by April 8, 2014 when official Microsoft support ends.
What do you think?
We want to know your take on this issue. Does Chrome have a place in the enterprise? What do you think is the best option for companies leaving XP?
- Windows XP and the Future of the Desktop
- Private school's Chromebook program explains why Google's laptops have captured nearly 20% of the educational market
- Microsoft's monumental task in Windows 9: Win back the base
- The death of Windows XP: It's your permission to go Chromebook, tablet, Linux, whatever (ZDNet)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.