October 24, 2012
Can the new $249 Chromebook substitute for a PC? Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) is working overtime to convince customers that it can. Google is breaking up its productivity suite into distinct apps that run in a Chrome browser and Chrome OS.
Called "Docs," "Sheets," and "Slides," the apps offer word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation tools as self-contained software for download at the Chrome Web Store. PC users will find the meme familiar: Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) makes billions selling Word, Excel, and PowerPoint individually and as part of its Office productivity suite.
The switch means Google is abandoning an earlier design wherein tools and saved work were collected alongside each other in a sort of Web-based hard disk called Google Drive. Yet PC and Mac users are unlikely to notice a difference.
In a regular Chrome browser, the apps act more like bookmarks. But in the Chrome OS, these same bookmarks can be made to appear as buttons in the bottom left of the Chromebook start-up screen, mimicking the experience of using a traditional computer.