I’ll be honest: I don’t get Chromebooks. When they first came out, they didn’t use Android, which was Google’s most successful OS, and didn’t run Android apps. While they now run Android apps, most are still mostly focused on smartphones, not laptops. I then thought they would be used as a cloud client and do what Microsoft is ramping up for--to drive a shift to the desktop cloud.
It seemed odd that decades after Windows and during a massive shift to the cloud, one of the most potent cloud vendors instead decided to redo Windows. Microsoft seemed like it was repeating the Netscape Office mistake, albeit with a massively bigger budget.
Over time, Chromebooks did gain a following in education, which is a feeder market to the enterprise. Kids coming up on Chromebooks might prefer them for business, and while historically they are mostly lackluster devices, Chromebooks’ interest in business has been steadily increasing. The Chrome OS may still be, for many, the best platform for a cloud-native deployment, and the cloud has become far more prevalent during this pandemic event. IT organizations, because they are figuring out what they want to do long term with the cloud desktop, would prefer a bridge product rather than a full ChromeOS offering.
That appears to be the HP Elite c1030 Chromebook. This Chromebook may be the perfect-storm bridge product, because it benefits from the macOS lessons. This laptop may not only be the ideal bridge product; it may also be a better alternative for enterprises than Apple products.
Generally, what allows the Macs to work in enterprise accounts is the Parallels Desktop for Mac software. It allows Windows to run on an Apple product, and now Parallels Desktop for HP Chrome Enterprise comes bundled with this HP Elite c1030 Chromebook, enabling it to run Windows 10 directly on Chrome OS―even offline. If the notebook becomes compromised on the Chrome side, it may not become compromised on the Windows side and visa versa. In short, it should be more resistant against threats such as rootkits that target Windows machines, because the rootkit will typically try to get situated below Windows. But not even knowing there is another operating system below it--where additional security software and HP has a ton of it--can better identify the malware.
For those who want Chrome, this potentially provides the best of both worlds; it provides a Chrome experience, which remains one of the better front ends for a cloud-connected deployment. It has a full Windows Desktop for applications such as Microsoft 365, which have been enterprise standards for a long while.
This laptop is no stripper. This laptop has the same build quality as other HP laptops, which means it will resist better than most things like being wiped down with disinfectant (many, if not most, laptops aren’t yet built to handle high alcohol content disinfectant). It has a 90.1% screen-to-body ratio, and the 3:2 screen aspect ratio that is increasingly the industry’s preference. You can also specify the industry’s best screen, a 1000-nit, daylight viewable and privacy screen (Sure View Reflect). These are awesome for working outside, which has become rather important during this COVID-19 event. It is in the ultralight category at under 3 pounds and, like most HP commercial products, is tested to the 19-STD 810H military durability tests.
It has dual microphones for audio quality, a wide-angle HD camera for video conferencing, and a Bang & Olufsen sound system--that you’ll likely appreciate more for movies and music than for Microsoft Teams meetings--helps there as well. Based on Intel’s Project Athena, this is a tuned laptop, meaning you should get every bit of performance you paid. That includes a fast SSD and Wi-Fi 6. It has a fast charge, a high capacity battery providing up to 12 hours on a charge, and recharge to 90% in 90 minutes. If you are into green, this laptop meets the most rigorous EPEAT Gold standard in 19 countries because it has 50% recycled plastic in the keyboard and 75% recycled aluminum in the case.
Wrapping Up: Ideal Use Case
This laptop is the equal of most any premium enterprise laptop out there with one big differentiator: It runs Windows 10 using Parallels Desktop on the Chrome OS. This statement means the ideal user group is likely the most common right now; that is, users are in the midst of a cloud transition.
This laptop is a bridge product that enables its user to retain the same hardware he/she has before migration to the cloud and then afterward while providing failover for those times when the cloud is out of reach.
We are likely to be in this cloud transition period for another three to seven years. This timeline suggests that those firms that are putting together a transition plan, and executing it will likely prefer this product, depending on how they want their desktop to look post-migration. They aren’t yet sure if they want Windows clients or Chrome clients when they are done.
We all learned from this pandemic that flexibility is likely your most important technology requirement, because we still don’t know where to end up post-pandemic. This HP Elite c1030 may be the most flexible in “cloud vs. desktop” use cases of any laptop currently in the market. So if you are looking for a bridge product to the cloud, check out this HP Elite laptop. It may be just what the doctor, or this analyst, ordered.
Rob Enderle is a principal at Enderle Group. He is a nationally recognized analyst and a longtime contributor to eWEEK and Pund-IT.