Chromebook vs Surface – Key Differences You Need to Know

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For something that gets you on the web quickly and quickly, a Chromebook has barely seen a competitor in its field. However, that was until the Microsoft Surface hit the stores. This relatively new, cutting-edge piece of tech has brought something interesting to gauge, and Chrome OS seems to have a hard-fought rival up against itself.

With that being said, it’s worth noting down here that the two systems have quite a fair amount of attributes in common, in which simplicity, security, and top-notch speed is among them. These overly basic laptops aren’t too big on hardware either, therefore exhibiting a resemblance in a few ways.

Now that the similarities are out of the way let’s get to the essence of the article and point out the key differences between the two devices. Without any further ado, then, let’s dive straight in.

Chromebook vs Surface: The Major Differences

Operating System

The first and most prominent difference between a Surface and a Chromebook is their operating system. Chromebooks run the highly refined Chrome OS that boasts a fluid interface along with utmost minimalism. You’re constantly running your laptop in a web-driven environment where integration with the Google Play Store and the Linux OS makes the system feature-rich. As everything is web-based, only a scanty amount of data is actually stored on your computer, and the rest of it goes straight to the cloud, may that be Google Driver or any other client.

Chrome OS desktop

Chrome OS desktop

In the other corner, we have the Microsoft Surface that runs Windows – a very popular operating system that features an interactive design and a load of user-centric applications. Back when the Surface originally came out, it used to run Windows 8. As time progressed and advanced versions came into production, Surfaces started to debut with Windows 10 S – a lighter version of Windows 10. Apart from converting Windows 10 S to the full-fledged Windows 10, the whole operating system received consistent updates over time, and the latest Surface models now ship with Windows 10.


Another notable difference that sets these two systems apart is their level of functionality and accessibility. Chromebooks have paired with the huge Google Play Store, and every single Android app has managed to make its way on Chrome OS. Thanks to this direct integration, Chromebooks now have access to more than a million apps, out of which often are great substitutes for desktop-based applications. Moreover, Chrome OS also supports a version of Linux. Using the Linux Terminal, one can install powerful tools like GIMP, GNU, and Android Studio for game development.

With that being said, there’s quite an interesting side to the Microsoft Surface. While it may not be close to Android apps to a certain extent, it does pave the way for through and through applications that are better optimized for a desktop than mobile. This is why several apps downloaded through the Play Store on a Chromebook look and feel as if they were meant for mobile. Although at a lackluster for a huge catalog of apps, the Surface does perform much better in this respect.

Moreover, you’d only find a fingerprint sensor in the most high-end models of a Chromebook, but that’s not the case with even the Microsoft Surface. You can get keyboard covers with built-in fingerprint readers that cost somewhere around $150. Moreover, Surface includes a “Windows Hello” camera that signs you in quickly after identifying your face.


Price is a domain where Chromebooks take all the spotlight. For sub $200, you can get high performing Chromebooks, like the Samsung Chromebook 3. Chrome OS was designed with budget in mind, and with their foray into this world, we have seen countless people pick them up instead of a heavily priced traditional laptop. That’s because, at the end of the day, they do get the job done. You can also find even cheaper Chromebooks somewhere around the $100-$150 range, but the quality may differ. However, Chromebooks like the excellent Samsung Galaxy Chromebook cost about $1000, but that’s where the quality truly gets premium.

Samsung Chromebook 3

Samsung Chromebook 3

Except for the outdated models that launched way back in 2012, Microsoft Surface’s base model’s price, the Surface Go, starts at $399. Judging from that, you can get a lot more than an entry-level Chromebook at that price point. Microsoft Surface does have its perks that justify its cost, but if you’re trying to get a system that’s quick, fluid, and doesn’t break the bank either, Chrome OS is your best bet.

Build Quality

For $399, you get the base model of Microsoft Surface, which is the Surface Go, and as far as its build quality is concerned, this device is top-of-the-line, even so, that it’s considered falling under the budget range. The Surface Go comprises a sturdy build with an utterly beautiful finish to the design. It’s a compact laptop that impresses from the get-go. Moreover, the buttons on the device feel premium and well-grounded when you press them.

Microsoft Surface

Microsoft Surface

On the other hand, we have Chromebooks that aren’t really top-notch when it comes to stellar build quality and design, especially the budget ones. Since affordability is one of Chrome OS’s major upsides, the manufacturers decided to let one or two attributes slip, and a grand build is one of them. However, Chromebooks, such as the $999 Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, are absolutely stunning in looks and design, but to compare that with a $399 Surface Go seems merely unnatural. In conclusion, Microsoft Surface takes the cake here.

Battery Life

Chrome OS is much famous for its ability to push more than 10 hours on a single charge. For long, this seemed unbeatable. However, with the launch of Microsoft Surface, Chromebooks do have a fierce rival. The former has also gotten reputable for a sizable battery life combined with lightweight portability, but when it really comes down to it, Chromebooks still rule the throne.

Google Pixelbook Go

Google Pixelbook Go

While an average Surface will last you around 9 hours of battery, Chromebooks can go much more than that, especially if they’re kept well. Although this might not appeal to some, this is, indeed, a key difference for students to whom this matters crucially.


Microsoft Surface and Chromebook are extremely convenient devices that offer you the best of both worlds. The two share much in common; both are portable, offer fast boot times, and get work done on the double. However, some key differences between them also reside, and they have been mentioned in this article. If you’re looking to buy either of these, be sure to evaluate your requirements after knowing the major contrasting features between them.

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You can read also: How to Unenroll a School Chromebook. And if you wanna get app on your Chromebook, read this tutorial: How To Download Apps On Chromebook.


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