Chromebooks are often priced cheaply compared to other laptops and tablets, but have a poor selection of software in comparison to devices with operating systems such as Microsoft Windows. Chromebooks are best-suited for users that enjoy Google's cloud suite of office tools and apps, but the software selection is relatively limited in this respect. The software in Google's app catalogue also lacks features that some professional users expect in modern word processors, media players and multimedia packages.
Chromebooks are designed to use Google's ecosystem and run Google's own operating system, Chrome OS. Google's system design choices mean that software made for Microsoft Windows, Mac OSX or Linux are incompatible with Chrome OS. However due to this novel and relatively obscure operating system, few viruses have been made to infect Chrome OS, making the system relatively secure.
Chrome OS tightly integrates with Google's cloud syncing features, which enables most user documents and app settings to be copied between devices and saved online. The deliberate focus on cloud integration makes Chromebooks less useful for users who are forced or otherwise prefer to go offline, although Google states that some apps also work in offline mode.
A key advantage of Chromebooks is that they boot up quickly and run fast, due to the lightweight operating system and the inclusion of solid state disk drives in most models.
Most models of Chromebook are lightweight devices that are highly portable. This was especially true when the first Chromebook was launched in June 2011, although more recently it has become debatable whether Chromebooks still hold a competitive advantage for this reason. For example, recent Microsoft Surface devices weigh less than many models of Chromebook.