Google details plans for Windows apps on Chrome OS
Google announced earlier this year that it plans to allow Chromebook users to run Windows apps through a partnership with Parallels. Now we have more information on how it will work. A new interview outlines the options Google is considering before it comes to virtualization and what it hopes to do with Parallels in the future.
When it launched, Chrome OS was little more than a browser. Google expected people to do whatever they needed to do with web apps, but nine years later people still want local software. This is especially true for business users, and Google is pushing for more businesses to switch to Chromebooks. According to Google representatives, IT administrators will be able to enable access to Parallels on the Chromebooks they manage with Chrome Enterprise Upgrade.
Google considered adding a dual-boot feature to Chromebooks, which would have allowed companies to install Windows directly onto hardware. However, Google has decided that this could compromise BIOS, firmware, and boot security, and security is one of Chrome OS’s main selling points. Windows virtualization in Parallels Chrome OS allows Google to keep all security threats away from the system.
Initially, Parallels Desktop on Chrome OS will start a full copy of Windows 10. So you can manage programs and files just like you would on a real Windows computer. Chrome OS will even redirect some Windows specific file types to the virtual operating system to make the process smoother. However, running a full desktop in Parallels is a clunky experience at the end of the day. Eventually, Google hopes that Windows apps will work as part of the Chrome OS interface, so you can just launch a Windows app without going to another desktop.
However, you’ll probably need a more powerful Chromebook to run Windows. Many inexpensive Chromebooks come with entry-level Celeron processors and a few meager GB of RAM. This is good for a few Chrome tabs, but not for virtualizing Windows. Google is not specific, but confirms that Parallels will target “power consuming” machines.
Obviously, Google would rather people move away from Windows and live in a Chrome-based world. But Windows has built a huge library of software that a lot of people can’t do without. Google and Parallels will charge for this feature, but they’re not talking about pricing yet. There is a live interest page today where Chrome Enterprise users can sign up for more information as Google gets closer to availability.