HPChromebook11_StackedGoogle wants to help businesses replace their old Windows XP machines with shiny new Chromebooks … that run Windows.

The company announced today that it’s partnering with VMWare to bring Windows to Chrome OS with VMWare’s Horizon Desktop as a Service program. The partnership will allow businesses to set users up with a virtual Windows desktop that they can access from a Chromebook to use Windows-only apps without having to buy a Windows PC. Google is hoping that will cause businesses to start heavily considering its cheaper portables.

“Google Chromebooks can save businesses about $5,000 per computer when compared to traditional PCs,” Amit Singh, the President of Google Enterprise, said in a press release. “Chromebooks are designed for the way people use computers today and are a secure, easy and cost-effective solution to help organizations embrace a new way of doing business. Through our partnership with VMware, businesses can now capitalize on these advantages with access to legacy applications, data and desktops they need to keep employees productive.”

The news is a potential problem for Microsoft, which is counting on its enterprise business to keep the company moving. Windows 8 hasn’t been the major hit with customers that the company has been hoping for, while Google’s platform has seen a surge in popularity, making up 21 percent of commercial channel notebook sales last year, according to NPD.

While Microsoft has taken aim at Chrome OS with a number of critical advertisements, Google is forging ahead. Computer manufacturers have turned to making Chromebooks as a way to try and bolster flagging PC sales, while consumers made them some of Amazon’s best-selling products during the holidays.

One of the major drawbacks to Chrome OS in a business setting has been an inability to run Windows-only programs. While setting up a virtual desktop system has its own challenges, it means that Chrome has cleared a hurdle to enterprise adoption.

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  • Richard Diver

    Chrome books might be a cost effective solution, but a VMware virtual desktop is going to blow away any costs you might have saved and increase the solution complexity. IF a company actually managed to get through all that, I can bet they would look to return to traditional clients very quickly. Virtual desktops are not a serious option for most user scenarios, especially in a mobile world that can not be online 100%

    • CAC1031

      No, complexity is having IT staff dedicated to constantly troubleshoot Windows devices and worry about security. This VMware solution is basically outsourcing those functions and I imagine it will suppose a much lower cost to businesses.

      • Richard Diver

        This is a tactical answer to a strategic problem: the time and money would be better invested in moving off the Windows platform to true cloud based services that be consumed on any device, any operating system.

        • CAC1031

          Well, that is the eventual goal. But many businesses are not ready to give up the legacy software they are familiar with but have to decide whether to upgrade from XP to other Windows devices. This is a great transitional solution and I believe very cost effective. When they do move to all cloud-based software, they will already have the necessary hardware in place.

          A good interview with reps from both companies talking about what this means:


          • Richard Diver

            It’s good marketing, but not all legacy apps can work in a virtual machine, may not be licensed to run that way, and will not perform well unless serious resources are added, reducing any potential cost savings.

            Any company that is stuck with legacy apps will already have PC support, this would add to that complexity as they will never move to this solution 100%, so would have to support both methods.

            Any company with a smaller it deployment would again be better focusing on the long term solutions that remove Windows, than trying to shoe-horn it onto cheaper devices that are not going to offer the same level of productivity you get from a local install.

            It’s a good debate, only the take up numbers will prove it one way or another, will watch with interest if perception meets reality.

  • Timmo

    Chrome was a major bust at our organization, like I expect it will be at many others. pretty much useless when not connected to Internet. This will fall flat bigtime.

  • Stephen

    “The news is a potential problem for Microsoft, which is counting on its enterprise business to keep the company moving. ”
    You still have to by windows, you still have to buy office. Just because you can Virtualize a physical machine doesn’t mean the license can be virtualized. You have to read the fine print. Which means that either you’re buying licenses, or you’re buy the access from Google, who is buying the licenses… or from VM ware.. who is buying the licenses. Etc. In short this isn’t much of a threat to Microsoft. However, it IS to laptop makers.
    So the focus here should be “Laptop makers should worry, because Chromebooks can run windows and they’re cheaper”
    Then again you couldn’t get me to use a Chromebook if you paid me. I’m not handing all my companies documents over to Google. Bad enough I’ve been handing them to the NSA, at least the NSA isn’t using the knowledge to sell advertising.
    Maybe that’s how we fix the national budget. NSA should sell t’s demographic analysis to Google. *joking*

    • CAC1031

      I’m not sure exactly how it will work but I doubt the cost of Windows licensing per user will be anything near as much as if they were buying devices with Windows installed. Also, these businesses may or may not use Office programs—or maybe only part of their workforce will. Many will use Google’s office suite but still want to use certain legacy windows applications like for accounting. And of course, many of those licencing fees go to third-parties, not Microsoft. As another article suggested, this is a transitional solution for many businesses before they fully adopt cloud computing.

      As for your other concerns, you’ve obviously got an anti-Google bias, so there is probably no reasoning with you about how any cloud system offers the same trade-off and if a business wants to store its data locally with Chrome OS, it can do so.

  • guest

    pricing? is this all int he cloud?

  • jabberwolf

    Um , its a THIN CLIENT.. That would be like saying Wyse is ganging up to stop the sales of Windows machines.
    VMware view is still used to remote to a virtual desktop that is… get this … WINDOWS.
    IT DOESNT RUN WINDOWS.. its like RDPing to something else that does. This isn’t new other than you’re doing it with VMware views which is pricey for a company.

    • Richard Diver

      I agree, the only way this could be manageable and affordable is if Microsoft offered it as an Azure service, paid for by metered usage. But it would still be very hard to get the legacy apps to run either way.

  • Out For Justice

    Excellent move by Google. Microsoft is like, “we will stop supporting you every chance we get…” and Google is like, “we want to help you by offering a technical cost effective solution”.

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