What a weird and wild twist to the ever-evolving Chromebook saga.
OK, I’ll be there. With all the new features and shape-shifting updates, Google continues to cook for its Chrome OS platform, the year’s most eye-opening Chromebook change isn’t even coming from within Google’s walls.
It’s coming from one of Google’s biggest, fiercest competitors — a corporation that likes to determine Chromebooks taper off and dissolve.
Don’t you just love the unintentional irony?
The change we’re talking about stems from a recent announcement by Microsoft — Yes, Microsoft! — and technically it’s nothing to try to do with Chrome OS, even. In fact, amidst all the chatter about what the change means for Microsoft and its Windows world, I haven’t seen anyone mention the potential importance here ‘Chrome OS’ in the land of computers.
But my, oh my, you better believe it could make a big difference to Chromebooks and therefore the land-roaming mammals that use them. And quite likely during an excellent way.
Let me copy for a second and explain. Last week, Microsoft unveiled a replacement Windows 365 Cloud PC program. In short, it’s a version of Windows that runs entirely within the cloud and thus is often used on more or less any computer (or mobile device). Using it is similar to using your own personal Windows desktop, with all your apps, data, and settings intact, only it works and is available on any ol’ screen where you drag it into the browser.
That means Microsoft could allow people and businesses to shop for cheap Terminal-like laptops — just like the original Chromebooks, within the youth of Chrome OS — with none of the resource requirements typically required for an honest Windows experience. In a sense, this might create how for Microsoft to raised compete with Google when it involves providing an easy, affordable, and hardware-agnostic computing experience where you can connect to and from one device without losing a thing or two. Can switch to another device. Tackle any time-consuming setup processes.
Peach, isn’t it? Sure. But the twist most of the people haven’t chewed on could also mean you will have a replacement universally available and extraordinarily easy-to-implement option for Chromebooks running Windows — and thus all sorts of options. Access traditional desktop programs generally aren’t available within the Chrome OS environment.
Now, for many average Homo sapiens carrying around a Chrome OS device, this probably won’t matter. Chrome OS itself has become incredibly capable over the years, because of Google’s ongoing efforts to flesh out the platform and expand the kinds of apps it’s ready to support.
But there’s an exception — and it’s especially one in the cash-oozing land o’ enterprise, where Google would prefer Chrome OS to be more intrusive: Businesses often have super-specialized traditional PC tools they rely on day-to-day. Trust — day’s work. Whether they’re advanced graphic utilities or custom-built desktop management systems, there’s no shortage of “legacy apps” that still don’t work in the web/Android/Linux-app-centric realm of Chrome OS.
See where this is going?
Microsoft, in a way, just addressed that void and made Chromebooks viable for a replacement audience of potential users — people who were on the brink of having the ability to urge by with a cloud-centric Chrome OS approach, but who had Was still somewhat traditional — a desktop is needed. Now, these kinds of humans can take a Chromebook with them and get 95% of what they need in that fast, simple, low-maintenance, and high-security environment. And when they need one of their legacy programs, they can simply drag Windows into the browser and get it right there and there.
In other words, it’ll be the simplest of both worlds — all the benefits of a Chromebook combined with the on-demand capabilities of a standard Windows system.
Now, to be clear, this sort of setup isn’t technically new. Heck, even Google started offering how to tug off a virtual Windows desktop on Chromebooks and enjoyed the simplest of both worlds last year. But, well, a few of things: Despite its official Google support, the system relies on a third-party partnership (with an organization called Parallels). And it’s largely out of sight as well. I mean, really: how many people even realize it’s an option?
Microsoft’s offering, on the other hand, comes straight from the Windows mecca — a company most enterprises are certainly accustomed to thinking about and working within technology. And it will be a simple-looking part of any existing Microsoft enterprise setup, with no direct connection to anyone specific device. A company sets up the plan, gains experience, and can then allow its worker-bees to roam around their virtual Windows honey-hives from any computer.
Like Google’s Windows-on-Chrome-OS arrangement, which eliminates any remaining asterisks on why a Chromebook won’t be responsible for any given situation. It overcomes the remaining limitations of the platform, especially at the enterprise level, and Chrome complements the evolution of OS into a truth “everything” platform — a place where you’ll run all kinds of web-centric apps, along with Android apps, Linux apps, and now even Windows. Apps without thinking about the underlying origin of the program. And it makes making that choice easier than ever.
As I put it when Google first approached this area with its Parallels-partnership program:
will run on practically anything imaginable, including those enterprise-specific holdouts, and it will do it in a low-cost, low-maintenance, and low-security-risk environment that’s built for large-scale management.
For enterprises, this means that tricky options they’ve probably considered but couldn’t quite justify before will suddenly become viable. For Google, that means the lucrative commercial market it’s trying to break into with Chrome OS will suddenly become attainable. And for normal ol’ individual users of Chromebooks, meaning the platform could suddenly start seeing an enormous new injection of massive interest — with the potential for even greater hardware diversity and software development across all sectors.
Now all of this is about to happen on an even wider scale, with Microsoft itself acting as the official (and very visible) provider. Mark my words: This could be monumental to Chrome OS and its development in the enterprise, especially if Google acknowledges the move and finds a way to properly position it.
However, the most interesting thing is that it can be beneficial for Microsoft in every way. Microsoft, after all, has been moving toward a service- and subscription-based business for several moons, and when you stop and think about it, paying people to use Windows is a big deal. However, the owner of a Chromebook also has a great plan. Microsoft has effectively found a loophole that permits it to create a lucrative business on top of Google’s Chromebook success, instead of attempt to go against it.
By many levels, this might be the most important , most vital change coming to Chrome OS this year — or even ever. Once again, the lines are blurred and the worlds collide. And for those of us who use these devices and the ecosystem around them, my goodness, is this a fascinating new pool of possibilities to ever consider.