Chromebook vs Laptop (Windows) – What’s the Difference?

Okay, so you want to know the difference between a Chromebook and a Windows laptop. Well, first, technically they’re both laptops. So the proper way to put it would be:

“Chromebook Laptop VS Windows Laptop”

But then again, Chromebook is the name of a laptop, while Windows is the name an operating system. So, rephrased again would be:

“Chrome OS Laptops VS Windows Laptops”

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There we go. Sorry, we just had to do that.

Last updated: 5/6/17.

Now, onto the article.


You may have seen Microsoft’s recent commercials advertising help a Windows laptop specifically Windows 10 is superior to Chrome laptop running Chrome OS. In their recent advertising, they did a comparison of Chromebook vs. a Windows laptop and they we’re basically bashing the Chromebook in its lack of everything. The ad is now removed, surprisingly, but the pointers that Microsoft threw out there remain in the frustrated minds of many Chromebook supporters. Let’s go through each point of Microsoft made and break it down. This article will also answer your questions on the difference between a Chromebook and a Windows laptop.

“Chromebooks and Windows laptops are the same price.” Microsoft compared a Chromebook to a similarly-priced Windows laptop and basically said how they are similarly priced. This is not the case, and all. You could grab a Chromebook for as cheap as $149 compared to a similar laptop that they recommended which were the HP Pavilion 11 TouchSmart- at a whopping $599 price tag and a Dell Inspiron 11 at a $579 price tag. Now, which one is cheaper, a $579 laptop or $149 laptop? Are these prices similar? We don’t think so. The Chromebook is less than a third of the price, compared to the “recommended” Windows laptop. Chromebooks are clearly the winner over price. Of course, we know that Windows offers the HP Stream which only runs at about $150. That would be a fair comparison. However, Microsoft did not use it that laptop in their ad campaign.

Microsoft states you can’t run the Office Suite on a Chromebook. This includes many popular programs that are used by students, businesses, and schools. Programs such as Word, Power Point, Outlook, and Excel are said to be non-existent on a Chromebook because of Chrome OS’s lack of compatibility. However, that’s not true. The whole Microsoft Office Suite is available on the Chrome web store, where you can download and install it, although it comes at an additional price. They’re not included for free, like you get with the purchase of a Windows-based machine, but they’re available for the purchase price of a new subscription. However, if you don’t really care for the branding, but you need the functionality of those programs, you can just use Google’s cloud-based Office Suite, and this will get the job done. Google has their own complete Suite online and it can import Microsoft slides, documents, and spreadsheets. Moreso you can edit them, create them, and export them. And they’re completely compatible both ways. So, what’s the point of Microsoft Office? Google offers pretty much the same thing. For free.


Microsoft states by going Chrome, you’re going to miss out on a lot of your favorite programs. This is actually probably the most popular opinion against Chromebooks in general. You can’t run many of your favorite programs like Skype, Photoshop, Quicken, iTunes, and play many modern video games. This point is somewhat true. A Chromebook really can’t run, and isn’t compatible with popular programs available today. However, there are always ways to get around it. If you’re technical, you can always download copy of Linux and run many popular programs and applications since a lot of them have Linux compatibility.

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But, if you’re not, don’t fret, because many major companies are not recognizing the power of a Chromebook and have started developing their programs for Chrome OS.

What’s one example? Adobe. Adobe announced their welcoming their popular applications to Chromebooks, beginning with Photoshop. Microsoft has also brought Skype to the web which is basically an online version of Skype. All you need is a web browser to connect to Skype. And what system is better than browsing the web than a Chromebook? 

There are also many equivalents of popular programs today such as iTunes which can be substituted with Google Music and Skype which can be substituted with Google Hangouts. Google has their own version of a lot of these programs, and the best part is that they’re completely free.

On the gaming front, that’s a pain point for Chromebooks. Many Chromebooks are very low-spec, and don’t contain the power under the hood to run many of today’s popular modern games. Chromebooks are built to be lightweight and fast, but not necessarily a powerhouse for running graphically and CPU-intensive games. You can run lite games, including Minecraft, which we have a full guide on getting it setup, but also games that are not technically demanding. You also have the choice of running thousands of games for free, with complete compatibility, from the Chrome web store. You can also run any browser-based games as well.

But, if you’re looking to run the latest Call of Duty or many popular Steam games, you may be sad to hear that the Chromebook can’t handle them. Most Chromebooks only have an integrated graphics card, 2 to 4 gigs of RAM, and an Intel Celeron processor. Any gamer knows that that this is geared towards the low end on the technical aspect.

Steam itself can be run on a Chromebook if you use the Linux version, but the problem is the graphically demanding part of the game which renders the Chromebook useless. Note that there are high-end Chrome books on the market as well, such as the Pixel. These Chromebooks are high-spec and some even give the MacBook a run for their money. If you must play Minecraft on max settings with a 16 render distance and fancy graphics, and has to be on a Chromebook, then you might want to check out these high-end machines. The Chromebook Pixel is nothing to scoff at.

how to print from chromebook

You can’t connect a printer to the Chromebook. This is partly true. You can print from a Chromebook, but you’ll have to route your printing job through a PC or Mac. However, many major manufacturers such as HP, Dale, and Lexmark are already making Google cloud ready printers. This is relatively new, but it’s basically a printer that can connect directly to your Chromebook, and print your papers wirelessly and allows your laptop to connect to multiple printers. Say you have a printer at work and at home. All you need to do is choose your printer and click print and there you go, it’ll print. New Panda you can’t watch movies and TV shows offline. This is just false. Completely false. Google Play allows Chromebook users to save popular movies and shows for offline viewing period

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You can’t connect to peripheral devices. Again, this is partly true. A Chromebook has no compatibility and won’t recognize many devices you plug in via the USB ports. However, it can recognize the most basic approvals that many people will actually use, such as a USB thumb drive, and external hard drive, or a mouse. But, this is also the consequence of people who don’t do their research before purchasing a Chromebook, which we should be something that anyone should do before making a purchase like this. So, it’s partly the consumer as far as well. You can’t choose where to download your documents. nope. It just like on Windows, a Chromebook has file management within the cloud, internal storage, or on external storage. You can definitely choose where you want your files to go and manage them accordingly. Come book does not simply upload your files to the cloud and have them just float around there with no user input or organization.


A Chromebook has no desktop. Yep, that’s true. The desktop on a Chromebook is simply a background image which you can’t really add or remove anything to. However, you can easily add icons to the taskbar and apps menu similar to a Windows 10 laptop. We don’t think this is really a big issue for anyone since you can access all your most used applications within the taskbar or in the apps menu. There’s also a search functionality which is super fast at finding whatever you need that launched instantly.


Chromebooks are useless when there’s no internet connection. Think about it. How often do you not have an internet connection?

  • If you’re at home, you have an internet connection.
  • If you’re at work, you have an internet connection.
  • If you’re at a restaurant, you probably have an internet connection.
  • If you’re at a store, which we have no idea why you would bring your laptop to a store in the first place, chances are you have an internet connection.

And what if you’re in the middle of a desert and you really need to watch the latest episode of your favorite show on Netflix? Well, do you have a smartphone? Most cell phones have tethering, more commonly known as a Wi-Fi hotspot, which can power devices up by linking them with an internet connection.

So there you go, everywhere you go, you have an internet connection. And besides, Chromebook are still usable even without an internet connection. Many of the popular programs and applications now are available for offline use. You can still work offline, listen to music, watch videos, access files, edit files, play games, and do whatever you need to do offline. With thousands of apps available on the Chrome web store, developers are moving towards making them offline compatible. And like we said earlier, when are you actually offline?


They have too little storage capacity. You can simply expand the storage by buying and external hard drive. Or how about buying a thumb drive? Or how about simply using Google Drive and uploading your files to the cloud, for free? In fact, Google even provides you with tons of free cloud storage app on your purchase of a new Chromebook. All Chromebooks have a minimum of 16 gigabytes of SSD storage, which is enough for thousands of basic document files music or several hundred videos or several dozen apps. If you plan to use your Chromebook and fill it up with everything and anything you may need, you can always just acquire more storage. We really don’t think the lack of storage, or internal memory, on a Chromebook is a major issue. Having a smaller capacity SSD drive help keep the cost down of a Chromebook and makes it more . this helps out the people who don’t really need that much storage, and the people who do can simply purchase more.


You can’t do anything serious on a Chromebook. Are you kidding? If anything you’ll be more productive on a Chromebook because it’s much much faster that a traditional Windows 10 laptop. Chromebooks have a boot time on average of 10 seconds. They’re super lightweight. They open and close programs in an instant. They’re ultra portable. And they browse the web faster than a high-end laptop. Take a Windows 10 laptop with a price tag many times more than a Chromebook and lay them side-by-side. Have them browse the internet, open programs, cold boot, or pretty much perform any other task, and you’ll see that the Chromebook is either faster or the same as the laptop with the hefty price tag.

With all this snappy power, you can get things done faster and more efficiently compared to a Windows machine. For web browsing, the Chromebook wins. No competition. And if most of your tasks will be done within the web browser, then you’ll be operating a super speed. And also, if you decide to ditch installing some programs that are productivity drains, such as Skype or iTunes or whatever gets you distracted, you’ll have a distraction free machine. The “lack” of programs can boost your productivity. You’ll end up with a super laser beam focused machine made for getting your work done. So if anything, you can seriously some get serious work done on a Chromebook, much more than a Windows laptop. Seriously.

All in all, we think the Chromebook has its own arsenal of firepower. Firing back at Microsoft’s programs with Google-based apps. There are pros and cons of both machines, but don’t fall for the talk that people say about Chromebooks. Do your research and see for yourself. There’s been a lot of negative beliefs about what a Chromebook can do hovering around the web. We think most of it is just mistaken and needs to be rectified. Don’t be fooled.

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About Andy Z.

Andy is a casual-hardcore Chrome OS fan and contributes to the site regularly. He likes computers, tech, sports cars, videogames, and of course, Chromebooks. Thinker. Introvert. Geek. You can find him on Twitter (@platytech), or send him an email (check the "Contact Us" page).

2 thoughts on “Chromebook vs Laptop (Windows) – What’s the Difference?”

    • Hey there,

      Although the majority of Chromebooks are used in schools, there’s no reason why you can’t use one for personal use.
      You can simply purchase one almost anywhere computers are sold. You don’t need to be enrolled in any school to use one.

      If you have any other questions, just leave a comment.



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