If you’re one of the many people who wish your Chromebook could run legacy Windows applications like Microsoft Office, Google has your back.
We learned earlier that Google planned to use its new partnership with Parallels, a company that specializes in making a lightweight virtual machine, to allow legacy Windows apps to run on Chrome OS. Now, in an interview with The Verge, Chrome OS product manager Cyrus Mistry detailed how things are planned to work.
Your Chromebook will run Windows inside its own virtual machine.
Parallels is a familiar name for people who need to run Windows software on a MacBook. The company makes a program that installs like any other native application, but when you run it you will be able to load an entire operating system inside it. You will then be able to open that operating system as an application inside MacOS.
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Once you have the virtual machine running Windows loaded, you can use it to install other applications, such as Microsoft Office. You really don’t run those native installed programs inside the host operating system, but it feels smooth and is very simple to do.
All this needs to be simple enough for everyone.
And simplicity is the key here. It was always possible to run Windows inside a virtual machine on a Chromebook, but it involved starting your Chromebook for a full Linux installation. Chrome itself has never supported any virtual machine applications like Parallels or VMWare.
That’s too hard for most people to do. Since people want to use a Chromebook but need Windows programs, a solution needs to be found if Google wanted to entice more people to buy into the Chrome OS. Asking people to install a new bootloader so they can boot Linux and Chrome, or even asking people to navigate the Linux desktop is more than casual users would want to try.
Since any Windows application is located inside a Parallels virtual machine, Chrome̵7;s security is not compromised. That’s one thing to give away when you start dual booting and open your Chromebook’s protected boot or change its BIOS. The Chrome team takes security seriously, as we see it slowly frustrating Android apps. Keeping Windows inside a virtual machine keeps the boot sequence safe and helps keep the malware it contains.
Running Windows in this way keeps the security features of your Chromebook intact.
Perhaps the most exciting news is that the Google and Parallels partnership will also extend and eventually include the Parallels Coherence feature, which allows you to set everything up then simply launch a Windows program from a desktop icon without opening it. full and separate virtual machine.
This allows users to install those Windows programs they need and treat them as a native Chrome app; open them when needed and close them once they are ready. You will still need a licensed copy of Windows and a licensed copy of the software you want to use, but once the installation is done you will think you were simply using another Chrome OS app.
The biggest issue that can dampen your excitement is the hardware inside your Chromebook. One of the best features of Chrome is its ability to work on small hardware that lacks the power to run Microsoft Windows very well. That’s why a $ 300 Chromebook doesn’t work well but a $ 300 laptop running Windows 10 doesn’t – Windows needs a lot more “oomph” to pass it.
Don’t expect your cheap Chromebook to run each Windows program, but the ones you need will go well.
You probably won’t be using Adobe Photoshop on your cheap Chromebook. You won’t be able to install Steam and play your favorite AAA games unless you buy in a very high-end model. And this is expected to reach Chrome Enterprise users at first without any word on a general release. But you will be able to use Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel or almost any other productivity application for Windows without any problems.
I’ve been using Parallels on my MacBook pro for years, and I’ve also come out all with Linux and VM to run Windows on my Pixelbook. I can safely say that this solution will work well for many people who need to use some Windows programs for work or things like personal finance. As long as you don’t set your expectations too high, you’ll love it.