A month and a half ago, Google announced a partnership with Parallels that will bring official support for Windows applications on Chrome OS. At that time, details were sparse on exactly how the project would work or what Windows would look like on Chromebooks. This week, Chrome OS group product manager Cyrus Mistry sat down with The Verge to discuss more details on the project including more on the how and why Google is implementing this upcoming feature. The initial phase of the Parallels and Chrome OS partnership will boot a full copy of Windows beside the existing Chrome operating system. As we theorized, this project is intended to be a stop-gap for companies that Google is assisting in the transition over to the Chrome OS ecosystem.
How, exactly, Parallels is running Windows side-by-side with Chrome OS is still somewhat of a mystery as Mistry points out that this is not the same thing as the dual-boot experiments developers were working on with what we new as project Campfire. That said, the Chromium repository is full of commits containing references to Parallels and the new PluginVm. While this makes it sound as if Parallels is going to be running a virtual machine, PluginVm is actually just the handler for the other operating system which is referred to as the “GuestOS.” In this case, that guest would be Windows. Misty goes on to say that, in the future, users may have the ability to run specific Windows applications without the need for the full Windows desktop. Additionally, Chrome OS will eventually be able to recognize certain Windows file types in order to call upon the Parallels platform to open the file with the appropriate Windows application. As you’d imagine, running Windows on Chrome OS will require hardware that’s on the premium end of the spectrum. Core i5 or i7 and 8GB/16GB of RAM are going the be the specs found on Chromebooks that ship with Parallels and these will likely come directly through Google’s Chrome Enterprise Partners.
This all sounds great and honestly, it is an ingenious move on Google’s part. One of the biggest obstacles for companies large and small making the move to the cloud is accessing legacy software. However, as I mentioned in a previous article, legacy apps are not the future of Chrome OS and it seems the Chrome OS team echoes my sentiment. As technology moves forward, as it always does, web-based solutions will become a standard and users will be able to everything they need between the Chromebook browser, Android applications, PWAs and Linux. Windows applications will become the exception, not the rule.
“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 do have that old wedding video on a VHS that you need to get to. 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.”Cyrus Mistry, group product manager for Chrome OS.
We’ll know more about Parallels on Chrome OS in the coming months but currently, no pricing has been announced. If you or your company are interested in staying on top of this as it develops, Google has created a page where you can sign up for alerts and be the first to know when this feature will be available. You can find that here. I’m looking forward to the roll out of this project. Not because I want Windows applications on a Chromebook but because it signals that Chrome OS is truly ready for prime time and that our favorite OS is going places we only imagined. Stay tuned for more.
Source: The Verge