How Google's rumored 'Campfire' dual-boot Chromebooks may burn Microsoft

Chrome OS Logo on a Dell Chromebook
Chrome OS Logo on a Dell Chromebook (Image credit: Android Central)

Seven years ago, Google began an assault on Windows PCs with its cloud-centric Chromebook PC alternative. Google's leveraging of a more secure, easier to manage, and more affordable "PC" positioned Chromebooks for market success. Despite this success, however, Chromebooks' global market share still pales in comparison to Windows PC's seemingly indomitable presence.

Google remains committed to an unrelenting multifaceted assault on Windows PCs, in an attempt to position Chromebooks as the "PC" for the modern personal computing age. Android apps on Chrome, aggressive Chromebook ads, a strategic push in schools, Progressive Web App (PWAs), and low Chromebook prices are all tools Google has and will use to make Chromebooks appealing to the masses.

Campfire, Google's rumored Windows and Chrome dual-boot solution, is just the latest, and possibly most important, tool in Google's arsenal to unseat Windows PCs as the PCs for the masses.

'Campfire' brings more than OSes together

The rumored "Campfire" code name for a solution that brings Windows and Chrome OS together on Chromebooks resonates with the concept of a real campfire that brings people together. In a twist consistent with the adage of keeping your friends close but your enemies closer, Google bringing Windows to Chromebooks is a self-serving strategy to amplify its attacks against Windows PCs.

Google's advertising onslaught outlining Chromebooks' advantages over PCs has had little meaningful impact on the PC market. Thus, getting Chromebooks into more customers' hands so they can experience Google's purported advantages is Campfire's aim. Campfire is a "Trojan Horse" strategy that'll potentially lure consumers with the Windows PCs they want on affordable hardware while also giving them the Chrome OS-based PC Google hopes they'll prefer.

Campfire is the delivery method Google may use to push its browser-based OS to the Windows PC-adoring masses. And this dual-boot system may succeed where aggressive ads have failed.

Google's coordinated Chromebook attack

Google has aggressively pushed anti-Windows-PC Chromebooks ads using taglines like:

"If you're over the old way of doing things. If you wish computers were more like phones. If you want a laptop, you can count on. You Chromebook."

Besides the above commercial, which uses misleading antiquated Windows alerts and OSes, most Chromebook ads appeal to a generation of smartphone users accustomed to simple, web-based light computing.

Google's ad assaults are complemented by OS-enhancing efforts such as Android apps and Google Play on Chrome (though most Android apps are optimized for phones). Also, PWAs, Google's hybrid web-app investment, may propel its browser-based OS forward since the user experience is made to feel more native and app-like. Google may strategically be using Chrome as PWA's "vehicle," and Campfire as Chrome's "vehicle," to the masses.

Additionally, as a derivative of Chromebook dominance in education, parents seeking a consistent home-school experience are purchasing cheap Chromebooks for their children. Finally, many small businesses are bypassing Microsoft's productivity solutions as they embrace more affordable Chromebooks and Google's accompanying productivity tools.

Google's Chromebook progress has occurred in a context where customers had to choose between Windows or Chrome OS. Campfire potentially removes some competing Windows PCs from the equation since consumers, schools and businesses will get both platforms on affordable Chromebook hardware.

Campfire may burn Microsoft

PC World published a piece highlighting the fact that Chrome OS and Windows on the same Chromebook hardware could ultimately hurt the more resource-hungry Windows.

The touted advantages of a simpler, faster and smoother Chrome experience on inexpensive hardware not optimized for Windows may be exaggerated when Windows is "unfairly" assessed in a "side-by-side" on-device comparison. One can imagine users' complaints as Windows drags on such hardware as Chrome zips along "proving" Google's claims.

Campfire, if real, may prove to be Google's most effective assault on Windows PCs.

31 Comments
  • Ugh, and so what games, with a dedicated graphics card, run great on ChromeOS?
    Despite what most tech rags would have you believe, PC gaming is still a large market.
  • And when did Chromebooks ever position itself as a "gaming" alternative?
  • Windows: Great for gaming and office users unwilling to change. Executives too brain dead to reevaluate options in their workplace. Mac:. Great for content creation, developers and knowledge workers who want reliable, easy to use devices that don't feature the Windows pop-under reboot messages while on WebEx / Zoom / Hangouts ChromeOs for getting work done. No mess. No fuss. Reboots rare and 10-20 seconds even after updates (vs 10-15 minutes for MacOS and 15-45 minutes for Windows). Don't want to change your habits? Fine. But don't complain when you are unemployed because Amazon killed your employer.
  • Getting work done? Does Quickbooks run on Chrome OS? How can a small business owner get work done? Or are they expected to keep everything in the cloud and be always connected? Can a developer install Eclipse/Visual Studio/{insert IDE here} on a ChromeBook and compile a decent sized application? What work are people doing on these besides Google Docs and Email?
  • Why would most people need to do this? You're assuming that everyone using a PC only has them for work. Most people don't use computers at home for their work. They use them because they have bigger scr than their phones with a built in keyboard. But they're still doing the exact same stuff they do with their phones. Stop asking tech geeks how they use their pc and ask regular people who don't game any harder than Gem Matching and don't upload processed videos on YouTube. I assure you, that is close to 90% of the human race that has been frustrating themselves because tech snobs insisted on selling them Windows PCs instead of something that actually suits their needs.
  • Yes in fact. Quickbooks online works just fine. You'd need a pretty big business for QB online not to suffice. Want to edit pictures, use pixlr or other cloud connected image editors. I am a business owner and there is precious little I cant do on a chromebook. If i lose it, no big deal. There's nothing on it. its cheap to replace.
  • You assume everyone needs QuickBooks in order to get work done. I have never used QuickBooks. Do you realize that everyone on Earth doesn't require Eclipse/Visual Studio? Your personal needs does not fit all. I happen to have my own business and also run a nonprofit program using my Chromebook and I have no need for anything else.
  • @gerry owens1 This is one of the stupidest comments that I've seen on this site. You obviously have no idea of the limitations of a Chromebook compared to a Windows machine.
  • I thunk Microsofts long range goal since Nadella took over has been to be a software only company eschewing hardware manufacturing altogether. They have long sought to get their apps and services on to Android and ios. Maybe Google is the victim of predatory practices here..
  • Microsoft has done more with hardware since 2014 (when he took over) than it ever has. See: Surface.
  • This is some of the dumbest stuff I've heard lately. I cannot fathom why Google would waste time on this, other than possibly the free advertising. Google doesn't sell hardware, they sell advertising. They sell some hardware to get their services in front of some people that may not otherwise be marketable. They already have a Trojan Horse in the Windows sphere. It's called Chrome and it is the single most popular (used) browser on MS's platform. Only way Google benefits from Windows running on a Chromebook is if that user runs Chrome on that Windows implementation. You can already buy Windows machines as cheap as Chromebooks to run Chrome on. You can buy cheaper Chromebooks, but the belief that you are going to enjoy Windows on a $130 Chromebook is laughable. The reason Google wants to sell Chromebooks is to have more product (users). The reason users buy Chromebooks is because of their ease of use, specific functionality, and perceived economy. None of that is supported by running Windows on a Chromebook. Why is Google doing this? Who the heck knows, but it is not so Acer can sell more cheap Chromebooks.
  • I get what you're saying, but it's no more ridiculous than MS's Surface Go effort. I think the real aim is pulling all of those brainwashed people who are under the assumption that they "need" Windows OS when honestly the Chrome OS fit their needs just fine. Personally, I don't think this is actually going to happen at all and if it does, I can't imagine it being available to all Chromebooks. I also don't think Google's aim is to eliminate MS, but it definitely wants its share of the pie. Personally, I think it's better for the market as a whole. MS enjoyed a monopoly for a decade. I'm happy Google is trying to shake things up.
  • Meh, they both suck basically both are spyware at worst and information collection OS at best. Why I run linux distros less intrusive on the information collection front...
  • I don't particularly "need Windows OS"....I want it. I have no desire to ever use a Chromebook again after trying one for a few hours. That's the bottom line.
  • I agree. Its just a waste of disk space to have both OSs. Especially with Chrome soon running linux apps, just doesnt seem necessary.
  • HAHA I laugh at the thought of a Chromebook being the end of Windows. Yeah Good luck with that Google.
  • MS also laughed when the iPhone was introduced... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • But MS is still here....
  • And Microsoft is still one of the top profitable companies in the world....IPhone matters not to Microsoft strategy..... now when Apple gets in the server arena yea they might notice.
  • We are moving towards a unified cyber world! The Matrix is real and Cyberdyne's judgement day is coming! 😜
  • Meanwhile there is talk of Microsoft charging for Windows 10.
  • "Talk".
    Not going to happen anytime soon if ever.
  • I love Chromebooks. But there are still several hurdles to jump over to totally replace Windows:
    1) gaming - still a huge market for it
    2) photo and video editing (I know you can run android apps, and there are some cloud based editing. but they aren't quite the same experience yet)
    3) colleges - many colleges require Respondus Lockdown Browser for online test-taking. So far it only runs on Windows or Mac, not Chromebook.
    4) enterprise - too many companies are fully invested in the whole Windows enterprise environment with active directory, etc. it's hard to change decades of this usage. Also many proprietary business systems still run Windows-only, though I'm seeing them convert to web-based.
  • Yep, if chromebooks could tap in the gaming side Microsoft would be hurt on the desktop/laptop front. PC gaming market is around 35 Billion.
  • 1 chromebooks have never went after gamers in any advertising 2 they have never went after any photo or video editing 3 colleges are a small realm vs the 4th grade through 12 they market towards.
  • I like ChromeOS. I'm using a Chromebox now, but if I have to have Windows on my laptop for work, or even something as simple as programming an Arduino then I'll just delete the ChromeOS, save myself the space and the bother of switching back and fourth due to Chrome's limitations.
  • Many of us buy Chromebooks because we want to put Windows behind us in our daily lives. If you don't need a specific application for work or school, you can switch and never look back. Most people don't need high end video editing software. Most people don't play AAA shooter games. For that 90% of PC users they can just switch to Chrome OS and never look back. Over two years now for me. I never looked back and don't miss the constant viruses and crashes.
  • I totally disagree. After a while rebooting your machine just to use Windows will get old and people are probably just going to leave their machine on Windows. Chrome OS may turn into a nice place to visit but you can't live there. If they really wanted to kill Windows they would run Windows Server in a VM and take advantage of it's RemoteApp features so full Windows programs LOOK like they're running IN ChromeOS.
  • If that’s the case, why Microsoft would be so stupid as to give them a windows licence? At least they should lake sure those chromebooks have a minimum configuration... And it could be the other way around: people mat find Windows more capable with more professional apps
  • So how does it hurt Microsoft to purchase a license from them to put Windows on a Chromebook? That was Microsoft's business model for most of its history. It's only recently that they've dabbled in hardware. Chromebook's main problem is they really aren't cheaper than Windows laptops and most tend to come in smaller configurations in regards to screen, storage and memory size.
  • Quite the opposite, It’s going to gain ms installs.