Google has been shaping Chrome OS to almost be the end all and be all of operating systems. It is practically a glorified web browser where apps based on web technologies can feel at home while now also supporting “foreign” apps from Android and Linux. Its recent announced partnership with Parallels to bring Windows software to Chrome OS sounds like a partial admission of defeat that it can’t really provide everything that its users need. Google pretty much acknowledges that but amusingly also tries to downplay it by comparing it archaic technology.
Why would you want to play a VHS tape when you have a hi-tech, hi-fi Dolby Atmos home entertainment system? Because sooner or later, you’ll come across some old video recorded and stored in an old technology that you’ll want or need to watch. At the same time, however, that doesn’t mean you’ll want to subsist only on VHS tapes for the rest of your life.
That’s pretty much the picture that Chrome OS group product manager Cyrus Mistry paints in describing Google’s move to officially support running Windows apps, even Windows itself, on Chromebooks. He likens it to an escape valve from Chrome OS’ secure environment, but only for those times you really need to. In other words, he also paints Chrome OS as everything for everyone, from office workers to IT administrators, now with support for Windows for those files that can only be opened by Windows applications.
At first, Windows support will consist of running the full Windows operating system inside Chrome OS, with some special tricks to open Windows file types directly in Parallels. It will eventually evolve to use the latter’s Coherence feature, which means users will only need to run the specific Windows apps they need as if they were native Chrome OS apps. Google apparently also looked into dual-booting Chrome OS and Windows but scrapped that idea because of security problems it could entail.
There is no timeline yet for the launch of Windows support on Chrome OS but Mistry does hint that you’ll need a beefy Chromebook for it. The Googler also seems to emphasize that, despite this concession, Google still believes that the Web is winning and that no one is really dusting off old non-Web Microsoft programming languages these days anyway.