The past couple days, we’ve seen stories around the web about running Windows apps and Mac OS on Chromebooks. The Acer C720, specifically.
In this article over at OMG!Chrome, we get some specifics on how to get a pretty experimental version of Mac OS Yosemite or El Capitan “running” on an Acer C720. There are many caveats and issues with this currently, so try at your own risk. Technically, on coolstar.org, the originator of this install, they list Mac OS as ‘coming soon.’ So, while this has technically been done, the end result has many issues and bugs. You can get the full run-down on the project’s progress right here.
Over at Android Police, we saw an article about the possibility of Windows apps being run on a Chromebook via CrossOver. This process wouldn’t be totally native, but it would also be better than VM’s or remote desktop solutions. Granted, this is technically going to be an Android app when/if it arrives. So the end result would be a Windows app running in Android, running in Chrome OS. Again, the caveats apply here. If it does ever work, there will be issues, bugs and non-working apps. And there’s no guarantee it will ever work without kinks.
Also, ARM devices won’t be supported at all due to the way Windows applications are compiled. See more about CrossOver below.
The bigger question, we think, is are they answering a question no one is asking? I’m honestly unsure.
For me, the interest level is almost nil. I’ve used Windows and Mac OS and truly prefer Chrome OS. That being said, installing a janky version of OS X on a Chromebook isn’t interesting at all for me from an actual usage standpoint. From a ‘why not?’ perspective, I think its great! I won’t do it, but it’s cool that someone is.
Windows apps via Android become a bit more interesting. Assuming there comes a time where this works so well that it feels like natively running a Windows app on a Chromebook, that could be really, really awesome. But, from a getting-work-done perspective, I’m not holding my breath at this point. Again, it’s cool that it might happen, but I’m not buying a Chromebook with this in mind.
With the complications that Android Apps on a Chromebook already present, adding another layer of application complication makes the whole process that much more difficult.
Outside of the experimental, I don’t see any of this having broad appeal. While it is fun to mess around with devices, the majority of people are likely never going to use these features. Sometimes, the route of learning new, better ways to do things is the better option. For many users, dependency on particular applications is simply a mirage. They don’t realize there are other options and alternatives that may work better.
For instance, someone who has used Microsoft Word for years may not fully understand the ability to do what they do in Google Docs and add in the collaborative nature of Google Drive. It’s not that they can’t use Google Docs, its simply that they’ve never tried anything else. Once they see the possibility of using cloud-based, non-walled-in software, many accept the change with open arms.
So, really, its more a matter of education.
As a full-time Chromebook user for a few years now, I know that a bit of experience and use go a long way to weaning oneself off of proprietary software. As I’ve shown others around me a life without Windows or Mac OS, many of them have made a similar switch.
This isn’t the case for everyone. For work or school, many have Windows apps they have to use and there is no proper alternative. For that segment, these work-arounds could prove useful, but only if they get up and running in ways that make them feel less like science experiments and more like real-world tools.
For me and mine, we’ll just stick to Chromebooks as-is.