Windows 8.1 vs Google Chrome OS review

Management and Security

Windows systems are a major target for hackers and coders of malware so individual systems require time and effort to administer, manage and maintain. There are many effective, free or paid-for tools to help with this. Ideally an IT admin need to keep an eye out for emergency patches and updates. This can mean managing Windows 8.1 systems can be hard work for a small business.

With Chrome OS, you leave maintenance and administration up to Google. Patches and security updates are downloaded and installed automatically when Chromebooks start up, and are invisible to the end-user messages warning about imminent shutdowns are non-existent. Anti-malware protection is baked in, while most apps aren't ever installed locally, which makes the Chromebook an intrinsically more secure platform though there are enough potential vectors to stop anyone getting complacent.

With a small fleet of Chromebooks in a business there's little need to do anything, but Google provides a web-based Management Console as part of Google Apps for Business. This allows you to track devices, pre-install or block specific apps, as well as control user and network access.

Winner: For SMBs, Chrome OS. Windows has more advanced management tools and administration features, but in a smaller business Chrome OS devices need precious little time or work.

Stuart Andrews

Stuart has been writing about technology for over 25 years, focusing on PC hardware, enterprise technology, education tech, cloud services and video games. Along the way he’s worked extensively with Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android and Chrome OS devices, and tested everything from laptops to laser printers, graphics cards to gaming headsets.

He’s then written about all this stuff – and more – for outlets, including PC Pro, IT Pro, Expert Reviews and The Sunday Times. He’s also written and edited books on Windows, video games and Scratch programming for younger coders. When he’s not fiddling with tech or playing games, you’ll find him working in the garden, walking, reading or watching films.

You can follow Stuart on Twitter at @SATAndrews