Windows apps on Chrome OS are NOT the future of computing
Earlier this week, news broke that Google has partnered with industry leader Parallels to provide a workplace solution for employees who need to access Windows apps and files from the Chrome OS. cloud-centric, aka Chromebooks. That’s big news for Google as well as the companies it’s trying to woo with Alphabet’s wide range of cloud-based business solutions. Many businesses have already moved to the cloud by adopting fleets of Chromebooks and offloading much of their day-to-day computing to Google Cloud Platform, but still depend on specific software solutions that only run on Windows devices. Parallels and Google’s effort will ensure a proper pathway to deliver these programs while continuing to embrace the forward-thinking cloud-based enterprise mindset.
That said, it is not and cannot be a long-term solution for the computer industry as a whole. Listen to me on this one. The goals of companies like Parallels, Droplet, and others are to bring “legacy” software to platforms that can’t use that software natively. It is a bold undertaking and for times like this it is necessary. Many companies that still rely on some form of Windows software but are migrating to the cloud are already able to cut ties with locally installable software. These companies often find themselves in a place where one or two pieces of the puzzle prevent them from completely severing the umbilical cord. Whether it’s point of sale, inventory control management, or ‘filling in the blank’, it’s normally software that a company invests so much in that keeps it tied to Windows and it’s That’s why Parallels will be a big player in the next evolution of Chrome OS and Google’s platform for business. However, it is an evolution, not the alpha and omega.
The apps that Parallels and others bring to Chromebooks are “legacy” programs, and they’re called that for a reason. Let’s look at the definition of legacy software:
meaning or relating to software or hardware that has been superseded but is difficult to replace due to its widespread use.
a legacy product or system is a product that is no longer available for purchase or is no longer used very often, but is still used by some people or companies
The Cambridge Dictionary
“Software that has been replaced.” “No longer available or used very often.” These don’t sound like long-term solutions to anyone, especially a company trying to move forward with the times. Just as computing as we know it has evolved into cloud-based operating systems and programs running on servers, software and platforms will evolve into something that must conform to modern usage. . It’s easier for a small business that can replace POS and inventory systems with all-in-one solutions built around the web. For large enterprises, it’s only a matter of time before software companies develop cloud-based alternatives to the legacy software around which enterprises have built their infrastructures and when that happens, the cloud and Chrome OS become the 800-pound gorilla in the room.
Do not mistake yourself. I don’t believe that Windows or Windows applications disappear. There will, for the foreseeable future, be a need and a place for Windows-based programs and executables, but I think even Microsoft has seen the writing on the wall. The company has tinkered with lightweight alternatives to Chrome OS and evolved many of the company’s major software platforms, such as Office, to offer web-based solutions as more users want and need a mobile solution accessible from anywhere. This will be the catalyst for this change that will lead to the demise of “legacy” applications. If a large company wants a cloud-based solution for its proprietary inventory management system, it will commission a team of developers to create this thing and the old will be swept away in favor of the new.
Ultimately, Windows apps on Chromebooks will be a win for everyone involved, but I would suggest that we don’t get too excited about the mix of Microsoft and Chrome OS, but rather, let’s look ahead and what type of inspiring solutions will arise from this temporary palliative. We’re still a few months away from seeing Windows apps on Chrome OS through Parallels, but I suspect that will be limited to enterprise users. All the more reason to curb the enthusiasm around the project. I know many Chromebook users are looking for a simple answer to get “that one” Windows app on a Chrome OS device, but I don’t think that will be the answer to this question. Instead, it will be the stepping stone to what’s next. Anyone can guess what that looks like, but it’s exciting to see and we think Chrome OS will be there in the middle of it all. For more on our thoughts on Parallels and more, check out the latest episode of The Chrome Cast.