CrossOver, a service that has been around and doing its thing on other platforms for some time, has now landed in Beta in the Play Store for Android with a version just for Chromebooks.
What this means is you can now run (certain) Windows apps (via WINE) in Android in Chrome OS. Did that sound a tad convoluted? Well, it is a bit, but this latest attempt at extending the abilities of Chrome OS is welcome and interesting.
Welcome because we’re still waiting on the container app future that we hope is still coming and we’d love to see Droplet finally arrive with something usable. Neither of those things are reality yet, so seeing anything attempting to fill in productivity gaps is welcome.
As I stated above, this is an already-established brand that is bringing its service to Android with an app specifically for Chrome OS. As exciting as this all sounds, it is firmly in Beta for the time being.
And when I say Beta, I mean I tried installing over a dozen things with no luck. I finally got two things to install, and only one really functioned fully. Those two apps were Steam and Thunderbird by Mozilla.
Steam installed, loaded up and let me work with the main app itself. After installing a couple games, however, I couldn’t actually play anything.
Thunderbird was the only thing that installed and ran as expected. Once it was up and running, it worked just like you’d expect. There’s even an app icon that appears in your app launcher right along with your Android and Chrome apps. Kinda cool.
We Can’t Test Everything
I’m not in possession of a physical copy of Microsoft Office, so I couldn’t test it. I looked all over for simple .exe files for each of the Office apps, but that’s just not how Microsoft delivers their apps these days. Even though I have a license for Office 365, the download links for the apps are expecting Windows or Mac and simply try to initiate an install script, so there is no way to extract that .exe file for use with CrossOver.
Perhaps if you could get those files you might have some luck.
I tried a few things not in CrossOver’s list of suggested apps, including a few games and my old go-to graphics editor: DrawPlus. Again, nothing worked.
But, I’m still really excited about the possibilities this service could eventually bring. For so many people, an app here or there is all that keeps them from making the switch to a Chromebook. Two guys in my office want to become full-time Chromebook users, but the lack of a serious video editor and real (not Android) Outlook are the stumbling blocks. Two apps. If CrossOver can be the bridge that makes the transition a bit easier on folks, it is a welcome effort.
Now that it is available and able to be utilized by more people, maybe the development will be able to move forward even quicker. As we wait, consider this whole effort exciting, but extremely limited. If you need a much more solid way of running a few more advanced applications, perhaps Crouton and Linux is a better solution. For now, anyway.