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How Google Brings Windows Apps to Chromebooks



Google revealed earlier this year that it plans to support Windows apps on Chromebooks through a partnership with Parallels. This is a collaboration that will see a full version of Windows boot to the Chrome operating system and allows businesses the option to run existing desktop applications in Google’s range of lightweight Chromebook devices. In an exclusive interview with The Virgin, Google now details how and why Windows apps come to the Chrome operating system.

Google wants to give you access to Windows applications when you really need them, as an exit and exit experience. “The analogy I give is that yes, the world is all state of the art and Dolby Atmos home theaters, but every once in a while, you have that old wedding video on a VHS that you have to go to says Cyrus Mistry. , group product manager for Chrome OS. “We want to make sure you have this option [for Windows apps] also … so from time to time you can get it when you need it, but we don’t want it to be the world you live in. “

Google is positioning this new Windows app support for Chrome OS as a major incentive for companies considering moving employees to Chromebooks. Resellers will be able to bundle Parallels Desktop with Chromebook Enterprise devices, and IT administrators will be able to easily enable access to Parallels for Chromebooks that sign up for the Chrome Enterprise update.

Windows applications running on the Chrome operating system.
Google

At first, Parallels Desktop will boot a full copy of Windows, allowing Microsoft’s operating system to sit next to Chrome OS and Android apps. Chrome OS will even redirect certain types of Windows files directly to the Parallels instance to make things a little more perfect for users.

“In the future we’ll have other kinds of things where you don’t even have to run the entire Windows desktop, you’ll just run the application you need,” Mistry explains. “We’re trying to make it as transparent as possible.” It will likely involve the Parallels consistency feature, which is a mode that allows Mac users to run Windows applications as if they were native Mac applications.

“We’ve worked with Parallels because they’ve really done it before. They understand the concept of running a completely different operating system within another operating system. They’ve done it with Mac and they’ve done it with Linux,” says Mistry. “We also have experience doing this, because of Android, so we already knew what we had to do on our side, but we wanted someone who knew how to do it with Windows.”

Google and Parallels are not yet discussing the exact prices or release dates, but there will be a cost that Parallels itself will incur, and obviously companies will need Windows licenses to run these applications. Google is launching an interest page today with plans to make Parallels Desktop available to businesses later this year. Businesses will also need relatively modern Chromebooks to run Parallels Desktop. Google has yet to release exact minimum specifications, but Mistry says Parallels will be limited to what the company calls Chromebooks for power usage. They are usually included with Intel’s Intel i5 or Core i7 processors and 8GB of RAM for fan-driven devices or 16GB of RAM for fanless models.

Android apps on Chrome OS.
Photo of Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

While Google has partnered with Parallels to bring Windows apps to Chrome OS, the company spent years researching dual-boot options before finishing project work last year. “We’ve absolutely studied double booting,” Mistry admits. “There are pros and cons to both options, but where we’ve landed is that security is paramount for Chrome OS.”

Mistry says Google “didn’t want to sacrifice” Chromebook BIOS security, firmware, and the overall boot process. Chromebooks perform a verified boot process to verify that the operating system is secure, and there is even a second mirrored version of the operating system that Google can disclose if it finds something wrong.

Security has always been a key focus for Chrome OS and the simplicity of management has been very appealing in education, where American schools have participated towards Chromebooks. Now Google expects support for Windows apps to allow it to attract a new audience, mostly because Google says Chromebook commercial sales are up 155 percent year-over-year.

“This should provide companies with the best of both worlds. That’s exactly what they wanted, a real point that’s easy to manage and secure,” says Mistry. “At the same point they need this exhaust valve. You want to be able to offer your employees are the safest and easiest thing to use, but at the same time they need to be able to do everything. “

Google’s strategy here is to try to move businesses to a more streamlined and secure operating system by default and push businesses even further toward cloud and web application adoption. “We’re on the right track of the trend,” Mistry says. “No one is messing up their .NET and C # books, they are creating for the web.”

Microsoft Windows 10X operating system.

Google has not always been successful with its push for web applications. Earlier this year, Google scrapped Chrome apps, web-based apps that you could install on Chrome that looked and worked like a desktop app. Instead, Google is focusing on progressive web applications (PWAs).

Google is also not alone in its web-based ambitions. There are indications that Microsoft is also preparing for a world where Windows applications live in the cloud, about to be old applications for companies that trust them. Companies have been streaming Windows apps remotely to iOS and Android for years, but Microsoft has renewed its effort to focus on Windows virtual desktops as part of the company’s plan to combine Windows apps. desktop and Universal Windows Platform (UWP) in the framework of Project Meeting.

Microsoft is also working on Windows 10X, which increasingly looks like a competitor to Chrome OS that will run traditional desktop apps in a sandbox and focus on web apps and new UWP apps. While Windows 10X is supposed to be launched on dual-screen devices, Microsoft has re-privatized the laptop operating system. Windows 10X is expected to arrive in 2021.

Google, of course, wants to keep everyone away from Windows and for companies to use them less than the operating system. “If you’re the type of person who has 80 or 90 percent in the browser, who by the way starts to be almost all workers out, then that’s what you want them to do,” Mistry says. “You want them in a secure browser endpoint, but then escape to do something Windows and come back.”

Both Google and Microsoft have similar security goals that will shape the future of Windows. Google plans to take advantage of the security benefits of the Chrome operating system and the unique ability to have a desktop-class browser, an entire ecosystem of Android mobile apps, and now access Windows apps. Clearly, Microsoft is trying to simplify Windows with Windows 10X and the company can leverage its native support for Windows applications more than any other operating system.

Google still has a long way to go with Chrome OS to address some basic productivity news. Critics say Chrome OS has been “locked” with too restrictive a view. Parallels Desktop is an example of Google’s goal of tackling a gap in Chrome OS, and if the search giant can seamlessly combine Windows apps with Chrome OS in the future, it certainly makes Chromebooks much more attractive for companies that depend on an inherited line. of business applications. It’s a big one Yes given the poor state of mobile apps from Android to Chrome OS, but Windows desktop apps could only get a better chance with the help of Parallels.


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