According to Future Consulting, Chromebooks and the Google Chrome Os are making huge strides in K12 education. Over 50% of the laptops sold to K12 institutions over the past year where Chromebook. Many analysts cite the main reason for this sharp increase is a result of how easy it is for the IT teams in schools to deploy the chrome books in comparison to other OS’s such as Microsoft Windows or Apple. Chromebooks also have another distinct advantage in cost. A decent Chromebook will only cost the school system $200-$300 dollars while a Windows machine can cost from $800-$1000 dollars. Apple Mac’s are even more expensive to obtain.
Another reason for the recent rise in Chromebook’s popularity is many schools are adopting Google Apps for Education and this suite of applications is a perfect fit with Chromebook’s on the desktop.
While Chromebooks are useful devices they really do not work well for a lot of applications. If there is an app served on the internet such as Google Docs or Google spreadsheets and these are the primary apps, students are using devices for, then the chrome book makes sense. If you are using google forms in education, then the Chromebook works very well as the chrome browser is the optimum browser for google forms. For many other applications, you just can get a similar application that are cloud based.
There are still ways to circumvent the costs associated with deploying Windows type computers and that comes in the form of thin computing. Thin computers such as the Wyse Zero client or other Linx based endpoints have given rise to delivering Desktops as a Service. While this approach does require and investment on the backend in Storage Area Networks and VMware Farms, in the long run this provides lower cost for desktop computers and still allows the flexibility to provide a full range of desktop applications.
Who will win this battle in the end? Well that is still to be seen, Both technologies have their place in education, it just depends upon the technical expertise of your It staff and what types of applications support your educational technology plan.