Chrome OS is a Gentoo Linux OS made by Google for the Chromebook platform (aka netbook evolution), Microsoft hates these computers but the top selling notebooks on Amazon are.. Chromebooks, Acer C720 and Samsung XE303C12.
My introduction video to Chrome OS and Chromebooks (in italian)
The Chromebook killer feature is "the web in 7 seconds", behind the scene the hardware may be very different, there are Chromebook with touchscreen (C720P), with Intel Haswell Celeron cpu, others with ARM cpu (HP Chromebook 11),.. so my consideration are referred to Acer C720 which has also a legacy BIOS (SeaBIOS).
Why not a tablet, an ultrabook or a notebook ?
In the past there were the netbooks, cheap and light computers for internet, then the manifactures forced the customers to buy a tablet or a notebook for that price, a big mistake. Because It's hard to have a full internet experience in a tablet (e.g content editing and production) and it's heavy to bring with you a notebook with a 15' display and a useless DVD reader.
The chromebooks fits in this (big?) niche, 7+ hours battery life, 11-14 inches display.
The Chromebooks are for internet social addicted and hackers
Yes Chrome OS is fast and minimal but a chromebook is pretty limited without an internet connection and a Google account, there are some offline games and apps in the Chrome Store but many features need a connection and the offline apps are far from the Windows or Linux apps. So what's the problem? Many Chromebooks very similar to PCs (like current MACs).
Ubuntu Linux on a Chromebook (x86).
The most evident hardware differencies are the keyboard and the different BIOS (like the MACs) and the Operative System is a modified version of Gentoo Linux, with eCryptfs and upstart scripts, so there are at least 2 ways to use a full Linux distributions on top.
- Crouton, a collection of scripts to build a full Linux chroot. It's perfect for command-line app but it has some limitation with Linux GUI apps because the RAM is shared with Chrome OS an you haven't the graphic hardware acceleration in this way.
- Chrubuntu, a modified Ubuntu for the chromebooks
- Ubuntu, yes in the modern Chromebooks you can install the plain Ubuntu (better is > 13.10 ), then you need to tweak the touchpad and the standby.
Now, do you understand why Microsoft is worried?