My Rebuttal to Microsoft’s “Scroogled” Commercial Regarding the Google Chromebook

Last night, I happened to catch this Microsoft commercial, where they attempt to trash the Google Chromebook with the help of folks from Pawn Stars. As regular readers here know, I love my Google Chromebook. I’ve been using it happily since may, have done the vast majority of my fiction-writing on it, and have yet to have a single problem with it. The commercial irked me, and so I decided to debunk several of the claims made in the video based on my personal experience with my Chromebook.

“Since Chromebook applications are web-based, when you’re not connected, it’s pretty much a brick.”

I guess all of the offline writing I did on the flight to Denver was in my imagination. Also on the flight back from Denver. And don’t forget the flight to San Antonio. And the flight back from San Antonio.

Of course, the Chromebook has an offline mode for Google Docs, and on the infrequent times that I’ve used it in a place where I didn’t have a network connection (like a 35,000 feet on a United flight) I was still able to access all of my documents and make edits. The next time the Chromebook had a connection, it synced my edits with Google Drive.

“You see this thingy [points to Chrome icon]? That means it’s not a real laptop. It doesn’t have Windows or Office.”

My immediate, snarky response, is thank goodness! I was a Windows user from the Windows 3.1 days, right up through the present, if you count my day job. Based on my experience, my Chromebook is far easier to use and substantially more reliable than any Windows machine I’ve used.

At home, I switched from Windows to Apple back in 2004, mainly because I didn’t want to feel like I was constantly “at work” in the Window environment. I love my iMac and my iPad, but even on my iMac, all but the submission drafts of my manuscripts are written in Google Docs. The submissions drafts are put together with Scrivener. I use Word only when I have no other alternative–which means I use it only very rarely these days.

“Without WiFi, it doesn’t do much at all.”

I know that hyperbole often plays a role in advertising, but it seems to me that the sentence, “Without WiFi, it doesn’t do much at all” implies that the device doesn’t have WiFi. Of course, it does, and I’ve never had a problem with the WiFi connection. Perhaps what they were really meant was that if you don’t have a WiFi connection, the laptop isn’t very useful. I’d agree with that. But then again, what laptop is useful without a WiFi connection these days? How is the Chromebook any different?

Also, as I pointed out earlier, I am rarely in a location where I don’t have access to WiFi. Even free WiFi. Since May, I have been “out of WiFi” range with my Chromebook for a total of maybe 12 hours, all of these consisting of flights somewhere.

“And when you are online, Google tracks what you do so they can sell adds.”

If you allow it. Of course, you can also adjust your privacy settings.

The important takeaway, aside from how misleading the Microsoft commercial is, is that you need to pick the tools that are best suited to the job. For some people that’s a Dell laptop with Windows. For a while, I tried going with just an iPad, but eventually, I landed on the Chromebook for most of what I need.

What the ad doesn’t say, of course, are some of the many advantages of the Google Chromebook:

  • Price. Mine was $249. I think there is a $199 model out now.
  • Price. Microsoft Office can run in excess of $300. Google Docs is free.
  • Access your data anywhere. If I leave my Chromebook at home, I all I have to do is open a browser on another computer to access all of my documents. I can edit them, comment on them, and when I get back to my Chromebook, all of my changes are there.
  • Efficiency. I can do that without having to copy files to Dropbox, or copy files to a flash drive, or remember which version is the current version.
  • Chrome Remote Desktop. On those rare instances when I need to do something I simply can’t do on the Chromebook, I still can do–thanks to Chrome remote desktop. I open CRD on my Chromebook and I can access my iMac screen at home, and use any application on my iMac. Most often this is Mathematica or Scrivener.
  • Peace of mind. If my disk dies, or I lose my Chromebook, I don’t lose any data. It’s all safely in the cloud.
  • No blue screen of death. Self-explanatory.

Maybe this commercial is funny, but if you’ve ever actually used a Chromebook, it comes across as seriously misleading and makes Microsoft look like disingenuous. But maybe that’s nothing new. If anyone is doing the “scroogling” here, it’s Microsoft.


  1. Jamie,
    I’m this close to getting one!

    I’m still a little worried about editorial changes from people who rely exclusively on MS Word (or docs that require very specific Style/Formatting as one freelance assignment I’ve had)….

    but those are minority cases, so the CB is still tempting!


    1. Andy, yeah, I think there is only one magazine (recently) that used Word for track-changes. When I worked with JJA on my Lightspeed article, we did it via Google Docs. It is so much easier to collaborate in Google Docs, so much more intuitive than track changes in Word. If more editors saw how it works, I think they would push Word aside in favor of Google Docs.

  2. Love this “rebuttal.” Thanks for putting it together. I read a similar article on another site a couple of days ago before I’d seen the TV commercial. First time I saw the ad I was prepared for how absurd it was.

    The other article I saw made a point of how silly the ad made Microsoft look. They suggested with the over-all radical dip in laptop sales these days, Microsoft surely ought to have better ways to spend their ad dollars than whining about Google’s Chromebooks.

    BTW — I’ve had my Chromebook a couple of months now and use it ALMOST exclusively for my writing. (And thanks again for your excellent Google Drive scripts to help track writing stats! 🙂 )

  3. My main complaint about the ad is that Microsoft is starting to sound as smug and obnoxious as Apple has for a decade.

  4. I’ve got nothing against Chromebooks, but for sake of argument, since I’ve been considering getting a small laptop and haven’t decided what to get:

    Comparing two on Amazon that are the same price, they’re pretty much the same except the windows laptop is a touchscreen and has a hard drive 25x bigger.

    True. Of course, you can use Google Docs on a Windows laptop if you want, or the free Office Live Word app. Or, Scrivener, which is the main reason I’m leaning against a Chromebook.

    Also, not a price issue directly – my understanding is there’s no offline mode for Evernote on a Chromebook. True? Do you use Evernote on your Chromebook?

    Or you could just keep your files in a dropbox (or google drive, or sky drive, or box, or bitcasa, or open drive, or sugar sync, or…. you get the idea) folder and have the same effect.

    Peace of mind.
    Yeah, because nothing ever disappears if it’s on the cloud. If you search google for missing files or data in gmail or google docs, nothing at all comes up. Never happened to anyone. Ever. And if it does, google always gets it back (/sarcasm).

    No blue screen of death. Self-explanatory.
    The blue screen is the result of windows being open to different programs, device drivers, etc. If you never put anything on a Windows laptop except Office, I bet you’d never get a blue screen.

    Seems to me a Chromebook is great if it really does all you want it to do. But a Windows (or Apple, or Linux) laptop can do that just as well and more – it’s just how much money the “more” is worth.

  5. I strongly dislike the way Microsoft handled the commercial in question, but I actually dislike the ads Google is running even more. The average consumer would be horribly misled by them if they aren’t tech savvy.

    More importantly, decent Windows laptops and tablets share most of the supposed advantages of the chromebooks now. For example:

    -I haven’t encountered a blue screen of death in years (across… eight computers now, I think), and only see things crash on the desktop I built to tinker with software. Reliability is hardly an issue if you aren’t trying to break things.

    -All of my computers are instant-on, with solid state drives. Low-cost laptops are extremely unlikely to have SSDs, but still boast quick boot time on win8 – under thirty seconds, even on the low end.

    -I haven’t used antivirus in over a decade, and have never gotten a virus or any form of malware. I am not particularly careful, I just don’t click when there are obvious red flags. Defender has also been improved in win8 and gets updates almost weekly. RT is even more secure.

    -Speaking of which, updates are automatic and unobtrusive in 8. Vast improvement over my experiences with earlier versions of Windows.

    -The entire OS is built with cloud technology in mind. I haven’t had to transfer a photo or document in ages, because when I take a picture on my phone or do anything at all with MS office, it syncs to all my devices. Same goes for any global settings or personalization changes, and save files for certain games.

    To be honest, the only compelling feature of the chromebook is its very low price, and then only if you don’t already have a laptop.

  6. I think Chromebooks are the way computing should have been from the beginning. Automatically updating, malware free, self healing, fast, and inexpensive. I bought one of the original beta Chromebooks off eBay for my wife as a test. She was able to watch Netflix, Facebook, surf the net, etc… all malware and trouble free until my young boys broke it. I then bought her a new one with 4 GB of memory and a hard drive in it, not the SSD. It is still quicker than quick and has no trouble with it. All she had to do was log into it and I changed the time zone on it and that was it. Done. Chromebooks aren’t for everyone, but for 75% or more people, it does everything they need to do plus more. If only I could get all or my non-technical family and friends to buy one, my life would be so much simpler. No malware to clean over the holidays!!!


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