If you’re one of the many people who want your Chromebook to run old Windows apps like Microsoft Office, Google has its back.
We learned earlier that Google planned to use its new partnership with Parallels, a company that specializes in making a lightweight virtual machine, to allow older Windows applications to run on the Chrome operating system. Now, in an interview with The Verge, Cyrus Mistry, head of Chrome OS products, has detailed how things are thought.
Your Chromebook will run Windows on its own virtual machine.
Parallels is a well-known name for people who need to run Windows software on a MacBook. The company makes a program that installs just like any other native application, but when you run it, you can load an entire operating system inside it. You can then open this operating system as an application inside MacOS.
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Once you have the Windows virtual machine loaded, you can use it to install other applications, such as Microsoft Office. You’re not really running these programs installed natively within the host operating system, but it feels perfect and it’s very easy to do.
All of this should be simple enough for everyone to use.
And simplicity is the key here. It has always been possible to run Windows inside a virtual machine on a Chromebook, but it involved booting your Chromebook to a full Linux installation. Chrome itself never supported any virtual machine applications like Parallels or VMWare.
This is too difficult for most people. Because people want to use a Chromebook, but need Windows programs, they need to find a solution if Google wants to attract more people to buy into the Chrome operating system. Asking people to install a new boot loader so they can boot Linux and Chrome, or even asking people to browse a Linux desktop is more than what point users want to try.
Because any Windows application is inside a Parallels virtual machine, Chrome̵7;s security is not compromised. This is something you give when you start dual boot and unlock your Chromebook’s protected boot or change the BIOS. The Chrome computer takes security very seriously, as we see with the sometimes frustrating operation of Android apps. Keeping Windows inside a virtual machine keeps the boot sequence safe and helps keep malware content.
With Windows running this way, the security features of your Chromebook remain completely intact.
Perhaps the most exciting news is that the collaboration of Google and Parallels will also be extended and eventually include the Parallels Coherence feature, which allows you to configure everything and simply launch a Windows program from a desktop icon without boot a complete and separate virtual machine.
This would allow users to install the Windows programs they need and treat them as native Chrome applications; open them when necessary and close them once they are finished. You’ll still need a licensed copy of Windows and a licensed copy of the software you want to use, but once the installation is complete, you’ll think you’re just using another Chrome OS app.
The biggest problem that can hurt your excitement is your Chromebook hardware. One of the best features of Chrome is its ability to run unpretentious computers that do not have the power to run Microsoft Windows very well. That’s why a $ 300 Chromebook works well, but a $ 300 laptop running Windows 10 doesn’t need it; Windows needs a lot more “oomph” to power it.
Don’t expect your cheap Chromebook to work each The Windows program, but the ones you need will be fine.
You probably won’t publish Adobe Photoshop on your cheap Chromebook. You also won’t be able to install Steam and play your favorite AAA games unless you buy with a very expensive model. And this is likely to reach Chrome Enterprise users at first, without a word about a general release. But you can use Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel or almost any other productivity application for Windows without any problems.
I’ve been using Parallels on my MacBook pro for years and I’ve also come up with Linux and a virtual machine to run Windows on my Pixelbook. I can safely say that this solution will work well for most people who need to use some Windows programs to work or things like personal finance. If you don’t set your expectations too high, you’ll love it.