old-windows-xp-computerA London Borough Council (LBC) is switching thousands of its desktops from Windows to Chrome OS — a move it says will help save more than £400,000 in costs. 

The LBC for Barking and Dagenham began moving its employees over to Chrome OS devices in mid-2013, with the aim of total migration ahead of the Windows XP expiry date on April 8, 2014.

In addition to modernising their equipment, Rupert Hay-Campbell, of ICT at the borough, estimates that as much as £200,000 has been saved in licensing costs by forgoing Windows PCs in favour of Google’s free alternative. A further £200,000 saving is expected from reduced electricity costs owing to the energy efficiency of Chrome OS.

Google provide Chrome OS for free to PC makers, who pass on the saving to customers through lower retail pricing.

Some 3,500 desktop computers and 800 laptops running Windows are used by the council’s 3,500-strong workforce. 2,000 of these are being replaced with Chromebooks — specifically the Samsung Series 3 owning to its ‘impressive battery life and portability’ — while 500 desktop PCs in reception and shared working areas will be traded for low-cost Chromeboxes.

Not An Ideological Switch

While the council is dropping an overall dependence on Windows hardware, it’s not dropping its use of the OS.

Preexisting licensing agreements with Microsoft have allowed them to maintain around 600 desktop PCs running Windows  7 under perpetual license – something they argue will allow them to support obscure applications and workers with accessibility needs not met by Chrome OS.

The majority of the Chromebooks will act as thin clients connection via Citrix to a Windows environment. This will help ensure that legacy applications remain accessible to workers, such as Microsoft Office, but with reduced overhead in local administration.

The ultimate aim, Rupert says, is to move off of Citrix entirely, and into the browser on Chrome OS. For now workers will remain looking at the familiar Windows environment, just through a different window.

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