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Google’s Chrome OS will virtualise Windows

Google Chromebook header

An issue that Google still grapples with in Chrome OS is how to increase it’s adoption among users and businesses. Being based on Linux, Chrome OS offers better stability and much more speed compared to the same hardware running Windows, but the benefit of being on Linux also hurts its chances of being picked up by most users.

With a lack of compatible applications that people use on the Windows platform (more along the lines of Adobe’s software suite and Office), Chrome isn’t seeing the kind of rapid adoption that spurred Android to dizzying heights. Google figures it can fix that, however, by partnering with VMWare to offer virtualisation of Windows apps in a virtualised environment.

The way Google’s approaching this is through VMWare’s cloud-based Desktop as a Service (DaaS) offering. Much like Amazon web services, DaaS offers users a virtualised Windows environment hosted on VMWare’s servers and, unlike others, is persistent. Using HTML5, VMWare can run remote applications on the user’s desktop as if they were native.

“Cloud applications allow flexibility, scalability and security and enable a work-anywhere environment, but many of our customers still use traditional desktop applications,” the company writes in their Enterprise blog.

“Desktop as a Service (DaaS) helps bridge the gap between the cloud and a traditional desktop by allowing you to run your traditional software in the cloud and have applications appear on your Chromebook similarly to how they run today.”

This comes at just the right time for Google, as Microsoft’s Windows XP is less than two months away from officially becoming abandonware. The company notes this in it’s reason why consumers should switch to Chrome OS.

“As the countdown to Windows XP end of life continues, deploying Chromebooks and taking advantage of a DaaS environment ensures that security vulnerabilities, application compatibility and migration budgets will be a thing of the past,” Google states.

Its an interesting idea and I wonder if there’s any way Microsoft can counter this or find a way to legally block Google from offering this. If it makes the service free, even for a year, the low-end Windows craptop market may be in for a shock. In 2013, Chromebooks were among the best-sellers on Amazon, Newegg, Bestbuy and Wal-Mart’s product list, which goes to show that people are willing to overlook the locked-down OS in favour of a cheap notebook for home use.

Chrome OS is perfect if you use your computer mainly for accessing online services and don’t need to store things locally. In fact, it’s so close to the original promise of the Netbook that it may revive that market all on its own.

Source: Google Enterprise

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  • BinaryMind

    Sounds like a lot of internet usage. No thanks – I’m old fashioned :)

  • Delano

    I’m a big fan of Chrome and I’ve given ChromeOS a try by installing it on physical hardware (Hexxeh’s build, natch) and I have to say, honestly, that it’s lacking.

    Granted, it’s lightning fast for browsing the web and it has an impressive amount of apps and extensions, yet it never really manages to be a desktop system of the same calibre as OS X or Windows. Close, but not quite.

    The ability to virtualize Windows apps is an interesting idea and it may well help increase the system’s usability, but I doubt it will drastically effect mainstream uptake. Virtualization is notoriously a decrease in performance, and with it being in the cloud à la Citrix, it will only make matters worse.

    I’m interested in continual usage of Chrome and I’m gonna keep an eye out on this endeavour to see how it progresses, but I seriously don’t believe Microsoft has any reason to fear just yet.

    • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wesley-Fick/184346154999538 Wesley Fick

      I don’t think it’ll matter much either. Google’s strength is in their app offerings in Chrome and they should really stick to that. Judging by how Google’s handled the whole thing so far, it’ll be a slow but gradual change as more app developers climb on. IIRC, there’s even a lightweight version of Photoshop somewhere in there…

      • Delano

        Chrome apps are making strong headway, but there’s a few problems. Firstly, there aren’t enough desktop replacement apps, and secondly, far too many are still only usable online.

        Naturally this is a problem in South Africa, but surprisingly, it’s a concern overseas too. Even in America, where internet usage is cheaper, faster and more readily available, people are still not entirely comfortable having to rely on a constant connection to have a usable computer. Lag, downtime and overall cost can be a problem for them too.

        In short, the world is not entirely ready for an online-only OS just yet. Perhaps one day it will be, but for now, ChromeOS needs to focus on more offline functionality if they seriously want it to be a competitor in the OS market.

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