Chromebooks used for a lab

We are putting a lab together for a nonprofit.  They said the computers that we might be getting in are chrome books.  So basically we would use chrome books for the lab.  I am not familiar with these types of laptops but I have a few questions?

What is the difference between a normal laptop and a chrome book?  Also, can they connect to a domain?  Can Microsoft office be installed on them?  What are the advantages and limitations?
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Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
The biggest difference is you can only run chrome apps. If you need to run a specific program for Windows or Mac, you are out of luck.  If you are only going to be running web apps such as gmail or, you are ok.

> Can Microsoft office be installed

There is an app but it is for the browser
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
A chromebook is more of a toy than a computer. It would not work as the primary computer for a person doing work.
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
can they connect to a domain? NO
 Can Microsoft office be installed on them? NO
They can only run chrome applications, ideal for use as a thin client
Brandon LyonSenior Frontend DeveloperCommented:
I disagree with John Hurst. Most people could successfully work using a Chromebook. It depends on the kind of work you need to do. The OP asked about Office which does work fine on a Chromebook (either via the office 365 or the Chrome app or the Android app). I regularly program from a Chromebook as well.

The advantages are that setup and maintenance are really easy because the software is mostly in the cloud and is updated automatically. Security is great. You can run some Android apps. If it is allowed by policy then you can use straight Linux on a Chromebook too.

The disadvantage is that software is mostly in the cloud. Some apps work offline and some don't. Many Chromebooks are underpowered and/or low quality hardware with limited storage and low-quality displays (all of this for the purpose of being low-price as well).

Active Directory Domains might be supported depending on the Chromebook.

Here is a good link with FAQs about using a Chromebook for business.

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