In retrospect I was definitely too harsh on Chrome OS and in general you're absolutely right. I should clarify that my experience is tainted by seeing a rush for schools to use them because they were cheaper than Apple products or regular laptops. In general a Chromebook is perfect for many use cases but at the time - and even to this day, despite many great advances in running apps in different ways - they are problematic for both students who want to learn to code beyond the simplest fundamentals, and low-income students or those who experience homelessness.
I have heard a lot of unfortunate stories from teachers who wanted to leap on this idea because in theory it was terrific. Low-cost, simple computing with few chances for viruses so kids can learn tech skills or do their research easily? It's terrific! Until of course the homework assignments require using a Chromebook that's more or less useless without internet connectivity and now all the kids who were disadvantaged before are even more disadvantaged for not having Wi-Fi at home, or a place to plug it in to charge, or etc.
This is, however, only one side of the coin and I've been tempted to get one myself on numerous occasions as a device for writing. Not distracted by random applications, I might find it easier to hang out and research and write.
Also I'll note that I believe some Chromebooks can now dual-boot Linux distributions, and that there are some emulators available for Chrome OS itself, so that opens up a lot of the original problems for kids who wanted to be able to compile and run code that needed, say, a graphical window like on a normal desktop, or a fully-featured IDE.
Thank you for your response! I need to remember in future that my specific sad stories around Chrome OS are less about Chrome OS and more about systemic problems and societal failures.