Chromebooks are freaking out Microsoft in a very big way

In today's open source roundup: Microsoft hits the panic button about Chromebooks. Plus: Firefox 31 has been released, and how to install additional desktops in Linux

The popularity of Chromebooks has finally gotten to Microsoft. The company has hit the panic button in a big way by launching a site that compares Chromebooks to Windows laptops in a desperate attempt to put a positive spin on its products while portraying Chromebooks as limited devices.

According to Microsoft:

A Chromebook is for surfing the web and using web apps.

A Windows laptop is for surfing the web and using web apps. And getting things done with Microsoft Office, connecting to workplace networks, using rich tools to edit your photos and videos online and offline, calling your friend in Paris with Skype, saving your resume to either OneDrive or your desktop, downloading Angry Birds from the Windows Store, using both the Start screen and the familiar Windows desktop, organizing your files on your laptop for easy access even when you're offline, playing Halo, working both online and offline, using iTunes and Photoshop, and countless other things you get only with a full-powered PC.

More at MicrosoftHat tip: ZDNet
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Image credit: Microsoft

Wow, you know that Microsoft is really worried when they do something like this. Until recently Microsoft seemed to dismiss Chromebooks as not something they needed to pay much attention to but those days are clearly over. This is a full-blown panic move by a company watching the value of its main franchises slowly dwindle away into irrelevance.

Each time I cover Chromebooks I link to Amazon's list of bestselling laptops. The basis of Microsoft's fear is right there for you to see. Chromebooks are all over the place in Amazon's list and they show no sign whatsoever of slowing down in terms of sales.

Somehow I doubt that anybody is going to skip buying a Chromebook because of the information on Microsoft's anti-Chromebook site. But it does show how desperate Microsoft has become as Windows slides more and more into irrelevance.

To get Google's side of the story about what Chromebooks offer, visit the official Chromebook features page. You may also want to read through a comparison of a Windows laptop and Chromebook that the Verge did back in March. The Verge liked the Chromebook a lot as you can see from the excerpt below:

According to The Verge:

I had a better experience with the Chromebook, and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. I used it at home to check Twitter and email, watch Netflix, listen to music, and start a Google Hangout with my family. I even used it at work, writing in Evernote rather than my preferred plain text editor I use on my MacBook Air. All of these spaces have fairly reliable Wi-Fi, but even when my office’s internet blacked out for a few minutes, everybody’s laptops — not just my Chromebook — were rendered useless.

And the Chromebook is just a better device. Its size feels more natural in my hands when I carry it and to my fingers when I type on it, in comparison to the NB15t which feels cramped. A huge reason for buying a low-cost laptop instead of a tablet is to have the flexibility and practicality of a keyboard, and the Chromebook delivers a better typing experience.

More at The Verge

Firefox 31 released

The final version of Firefox 31 has been released, according to BetaNews.

According to BetaNews:

After the relatively disappointing Firefox 30, version 31 adds some notable new features, including the ability to block known malware downloads as well as a new search box to the New Tab page.

The update, which should roll out tomorrow, will be followed by Firefox 31 for Android. This update will allow users to reorder existing panels on the about:home page, and adds support for refreshing synced tabs on demand. It also implements the Firefox Hubs API, which allows add-ons to contribute to the Firefox for Android home page.

More at BetaNews
Firefox 31 released
Image credit: BetaNews

If you want to download Firefox 31 for your system, you can do so now courtesy of Softpedia:

Download Mozilla Firefox for Linux

Download Mozilla Firefox for Mac OS X

Download Mozilla Firefox for Windows

I have not had a chance to try it, but hopefully it will be significantly better than Firefox 30.

How to install different desktop environments in Linux

How To Geek has some helpful information on installing additional desktops in Linux.

According to How To Geek:

To install a different desktop environment, you’ll just need to open your Linux distribution’s package manager and install the appropriate package. This will be similar on al distributions, but we’ll use Ubuntu 14.04 and Linux Mint 17 as examples here.

For example, let’s say you wanted to install another desktop environment on Ubuntu. You’d open the Ubuntu Software Center, search for the name of the desktop environment’s package, select it, and click the Install button. To install Xfce, you’d search for xfce4. To install the full, customized Xubuntu desktop system, you’d search for xubuntu-desktop instead.

More at How To Geek
Install different Linux desktops
Image credit: How To Geek

The information in the article might be a little basic for experienced Linux users, but it could come in handy for folks who are new to Linux and who want to experiment with different desktops. I've always thought it a good thing for new Linux users to play with a range of different desktop environments to find one that works the best for them.

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of ITworld.

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