A web browser is probably the most-used, and sometimes the only-used, app on our computers. That’s why Google went one step ahead and turned its Chrome browser into a full-blown operating system.
While Chrome OS does give the comfort of a lightweight operating system with impressive battery life, it falls short in one major department – app support. Many legacy apps used by businesses and the modern content creation apps like Adobe Photoshop and After Effects are a complete no show on Google’s OS.
That’s why the search giant has made continuous efforts, including Android app support for Chrome OS. It even tried pursuing dual-boot dreams, but the plans got scrapped as it may have compromised the security front.
As part of its latest move, Google has partnered with Parallels Desktop to bring Windows 10 app support to Chrome OS. We reported earlier this year that Google would target Windows app support for enterprise users.
Now, Chrome OS product manager Cyrus Mistry has revealed further details on how Google wants to proceed with Windows app support. Initially, the full-blown Windows OS would boot inside Chrome OS on a virtual machine using Parallels Desktop, however, future plans include providing a seamless experience.
In other words, users would simply use the required Windows apps side-by-side with web apps and Android apps without running the entire OS. The effort sounds similar to how Microsoft has added the Linux GUI apps to Windows 10 via WSL2, although the technical stuff might differ.
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“We want to make sure you have that option [for Windows apps] as well… so that every once in a while you’ll be able to get that when you need it, but we don’t want that to be the world you’re living in,” Mistry told The Verge in an interview.
In the past, Google itself has managed to port Android apps to Chrome OS. But for Windows, it wanted to work with the experts, which is Parallels Desktop, in this case. Parallels Desktop has experience of running Windows apps on Apple’s macOS.
However, to make Windows apps run smoothly on Chrome OS, we need more powerful Chromebooks. Typically, the ones running Intel Core i5 or i7 CPUs with 8GB or 16GB of onboard memory. Not to mention, Chromebooks with higher storage capacity, which are generally hard to find.
As of now, Google is yet to release minimum hardware specifications to support desktop apps. Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS will arrive later this year for businesses, but there is no word on the pricing yet. However, one of the cost components involved would be of the Windows licenses required to run these apps.
“If you’re the type of person who is 80 or 90 percent in the browser, which by the way is starting to be almost every worker out there, then this is what you want them to be doing. You want them in a secure browser endpoint, but then escaping out to do a Windows thing and coming back,” says Mistry.
When it comes to Chrome OS, Google has mostly targeted schools and businesses. Still, some users may hesitate when switching to Chromebooks as their primary device. Now, the desktop app support coming into the picture will widen the bottleneck at the least and act as a perk for moving away from Windows.