Google and Dell are competing against Microsoft with Chromebook Enterprise laptops

Google is launching new Chromebook Enterprise devices that are hoped to keep more companies away from Windows laptops. Microsoft has dominated enterprise computing for years, but as companies increasingly want to modernize their devices, there is a possibility for competitors to challenge Windows. Google is working with one of Microsoft's largest partners, Dell, to push new Chromebook Enterprise laptops to companies.


Dell launches Chrome OS on a few of its popular business-oriented Latitude laptops, which offer both a standard clamshell design and a 2-in-1 option. While it may sound like just two existing Windows laptops that have been redesignated for Chrome OS, Google and Dell have been working together for more than a year to ensure that these new Chromebook Enterprise devices are ready for IT needs. This includes bundling a series of Dell cloud-based support services that give administrators more control over how these Chromebooks are rolled out within companies.

This means IT administrators can more easily integrate these Chromebooks into existing Windows environments and manage them through tools such as VMware Workspace One. Microsoft and its partners have been offering a range of management tools for years, making it easy to customize and operate Windows-based devices. Google has also modified its Chrome Admin Console to improve loading times, add search on every page, and revise with material design elements.

Companies can choose from Dell's 14-inch Latitude 5400 ($ 699) or the 13-inch Latitude 5300 2-in-1 ($ 819). Both can be configured with up to 8th generation of Core i7 processors from Intel, up to 32 GB RAM and even up to 1 TB of SSD storage. The processor options are a bit disappointing, since Intel has just announced new 10th generation processors, but the blow is softened slightly because both devices offer LTE options and USB-C docking.

Google is now working with a number of OEMs to better target business customers. Although Dell is the first OEM to announce Chromebook Enterprise laptops, there will be more. "This is not exclusive to Dell," explains John Solomon, vice president of Chrome OS at Google, in an interview with The edge. "We will launch with Dell first … but in the future we will do this more widely with the ecosystem."

You can imagine Lenovo and HP working together in the future to offer Chromebook Enterprise laptops, just as they currently offer devices to both consumers and businesses. This closer integration benefits OEMs because they can now bundle a larger stack of software and services on a business-focused Chromebook.

Chromebooks have traditionally performed well in education, but have had little control over companies accustomed to trusting Windows. Google's new focus is a major change, but it does not mean that the company suddenly attracts business customers overnight. "Enterprise is more a marathon than a sprint," Solomon admits. "For Google, this is an important moment for us to really telegraph that we take the company very seriously. This is not just a project that you know is an experiment, we will see how it goes. This is a long-term and serious commitment. "

Microsoft has tried to combat Chrome OS with Windows 10 S laptops
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge


Microsoft's response to this new Chromebook Enterprise offering is significant. It is constantly trying to combat Chrome OS with cheaper own Windows laptops, but that is not a modern OS challenge. Microsoft is also currently working on a "Windows Lite" version of its operating system that will be much more cloud-powered to compete with Chrome OS. This stripped down version of Windows can help Microsoft better compete with the modern benefits of something like Chrome OS. Microsoft has tried to combat Chrome OS in the past with efforts such as Windows 10 S, but it has always been more a closed version of Windows than something that is really modern.

"What I've read is that Microsoft is going to modernize their operating system because they have an operating system that is actually designed for an IT world that is very customer-focused and very heavy," says Solomon. Microsoft's support for older applications, hardware and even Windows versions currently sets it apart from IT administrators, but Google is betting that its modern operating system will take over.

"There is a reason that there have been no malware attacks or viruses on Chromebooks, it is a very difficult surface for any bad actor to penetrate," says Solomon. "I would imagine that Microsoft is going to try to modernize their operating system and bring where IT is going, but they have the legacy problem and we don't."

If Microsoft tries to make a more Chrome OS-like operating system, Google thinks it still has the upper hand thanks to its investment in machine learning. "We've been working on Chrome OS for ten years, it's not just something we came up with last year," Solomon explains. "We have developed areas in which we innovate, such as machine learning – which is the core competence of Google – and we are starting to apply it. We have a large number of functions that we work on to manage the product through machine learning, and actually deeply at OS level. So how you can optimize the CPU, battery and display. "

Google's partnership with Dell is a big warning to Microsoft and its Windows dominance, but it is up to Google and its partners to really prove that it will work. We have seen that Google abandoned the tablet hardware activities earlier this year and his efforts to push Chrome OS to tablets have not really succeeded. Google must now prove that it is willing and able to offer flexible software and services that will convince companies to make the big Windows switch. Solomon described enterprise as a marathon and not as a sprint, but with Microsoft it will become more like a really long boxing match between two of & # 39; the world's heavyweight tech companies.