If you are one of the many people who want your Chromebook to run legacy Windows applications like Microsoft Office, Google has its 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 applications to run on Chrome OS. Now, in an interview with The Verge, Chrome OS product manager Cyrus Mistry has detailed how things are planned to work.
Your Chromebook will run Windows within its own virtual machine.
Parallel is a popular name for folks who need to run Windows software on a MacBook. The company makes a program that installs just like any other native application, but when you run it you are able to load a complete operating system within it. You are then able to open that operating system as an application within MacOS.
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Once you have loaded the Windows virtual machine, you can use it to install other applications, such as Microsoft Office. You are not running those programs installed locally within the host operating system, but it feels comfortable and is very simple to do.
All of this should be simple enough for everyone to use.
And simplicity is the key here. It has always been possible to run Windows inside a virtual machine on a Chromebook, but it involved booting your Chromebook into a full Linux installation. Chrome itself has not supported any virtual machine applications like Parallels or VMWare.
This is simply too difficult for most people. Since people want to use a Chromebook but need Windows software, a necessary solution to understand if Google wanted to attract more people to buy in Chrome OS. Asking people to install a new bootloader so they can create Linux and Chrome, or even asking people to navigate a Linux desktop is more than casual users will want to try.
Since every Windows application is inside a Parallels virtual machine, Chrome security is not compromised. This is something you give when you start dual booting and unlock the protected Chromebook boot or modify its BIOS. The Chrome team takes security very seriously, as we look at the sometimes frustrating way Android apps perform. Keeping Windows inside a virtual machine keeps the boot sequence secure and helps to keep the malware contained.
Running Windows this way keeps the security features of the Chromebook completely intact.
Perhaps the most interesting news is that the Google and Parallels partnership will also last and eventually include the Parallels Coherence feature, which lets you set everything up, then simply start a Windows program from a desktop icon, without filling a machine complete and unique virtual.
This will allow users to install the Windows applications they need and treat them as native Chrome applications; open them when needed and close when finished. 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 complete, you would think that you are simply using another Chrome OS application.
The biggest thing that can dampen your excitement is the device inside your Chromebook. One of the best features of Chrome is its ability to run on weak hardware that does not have the power to run Microsoft Windows very well. That̵7;s why a $ 300 Chromebook works well, but a $ 300 laptop running Windows 10 doesn’t – Windows needs a lot more “oomph” to power it.
Don’t expect your cheap Chromebook to work each Windows program, but the ones you need will work fine.
You certainly will not run Adobe Photoshop on your free Chromebook. You will also not be able to install Steam and play your favorite AAA games unless you purchase a very expensive model. And this is scheduled to come to Chrome Enterprise users early without a word for a general release. But you will be able to use Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel or almost any other productivity program for Windows without any problems.
I’ve used parallels on my MacBook pro for years, and I’ve also come up with Linux and a VM to run Windows on my Pixelbook. I can say for sure that this solution will work well for most people who need to use some Windows software for work or things like personal finance. As long as you do not set your expectations too high, you will love it.