Windows apps on Chrome OS coming soon
- A Google official has confirmed that Windows apps on Chrome OS will soon become a reality.
- Unfortunately, Windows will be virtualized through Parallels instead of the hoped-for dual boot option.
- Chromebooks will need to be powerful enough for this to work, and the service won’t be free.
Although Chromebooks have come a long way, there are still plenty of people who won’t use one as their machine of choice. This is usually because there’s a Windows app that Chrome OS can’t run and the substitutes pale in comparison. Fortunately, we now know that Windows apps on Chrome OS will soon be supported.
In an interview with The edge, Cyrus Mistry, group product manager for Chrome OS, details what Google has in mind for this new feature. Although the news is really exciting, you should temper your expectations because it might not be all you hoped for.
Windows apps on Chrome OS: how will it work?
Most people hoped Chromebooks would eventually get dual-boot capability, which means you could host both Chrome OS and Windows 10 on a single machine and choose which to boot at startup. However, Mistry confirms in the interview that this will not be the case.
Instead, Chrome OS will use Parallels Desktop, a popular system that virtualizes machines within an existing operating system. This is how macOS users can use Windows programs.
In other words, dual-booting Windows and Chrome OS required too many security sacrifices for Chromebooks. Since security is such an important aspect of what made Chrome OS such a success, it makes sense that Google wouldn’t want to spoil that in favor of adding Windows support.
Just like with macOS, you will need to purchase Parallels as well as a Windows 10 license for this system to work on a Chromebook. On top of that, you’ll need a Chromebook that can handle Windows apps, which might be the biggest hurdle for most businesses and users.
Related: 8 years after the first Chromebooks: Google was right about them
Although there are now a number of Chromebooks with high-end laptop specs, the most popular Chrome OS devices are underpowered to keep them inexpensive. People with these types of systems will need to upgrade to a more powerful machine for this to work.
Windows apps on Chrome OS: does it make sense?
While the idea of running Windows apps in Chrome OS sounds great on paper, it presents some paradoxes. For example, the main advantages of Chromebooks are that they are incredibly cheap and very easy to use. However, for Windows apps to work, you’ll need a more expensive Chromebook, and you’ll need to learn how virtual machines work in order to use your Windows apps.
Related: Here are all the Chromebooks that run Android and Linux apps
Additionally, people who would do well to upgrade their Chromebook to a newer model to get this functionality will be faced with a real choice: “Do I spend hundreds of dollars on a fancy Chromebook so I can run apps Windows, or do I just bought a Windows laptop?” At a certain price, it might make more sense to get the Windows laptop.
It’s likely that this option of running Windows apps on Chrome OS will only really appeal to a small subset of users, namely those who already own a powerful Chromebook and are savvy enough to understand Parallels.
All of this is likely why Google seems to be primarily focused on the business sector at the moment, rather than gearing it towards consumers. However, if Google can get Chrome OS to support Parallels for business, there’s no reason it can’t do the same for the general public.
Anyway, there is no fixed date for the rollout of this new feature. It’s good to know that Google will definitely make it happen.