Now You Can Run Windows Apps on Chromebooks

When Google first announced their Chromebooks, there was great excitement among many as they were potentially a serious competitor to Windows and OS X. However a lot of this excitement was quickly killed when it was discovered that the notebooks would be shipped with a lock-down BIOS, which disables access to most of the machines hardware. This means that it’s pretty much impossible to install an additional OS to the machine like Windows 7 or even Linux.

As a result this put many businesses off the Chromebooks. However now there is a new work around with thanks to Citrix.

Citrix have released a new technical preview for its Citrix Receiver virtualization tool. Users can now make use of the technical preview of Citrix to access desktop software such as Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office and all your other favorite Windows apps.

Before Citrix Receiver was already available on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Blackberry. It lets users access virtual desktops and applications from just about any computer, tablet or smartphone. Now that it’s finally available on the Chromebooks, it addresses a serious limitation in the devices and should make them more attractive to users.

To use the Citrix Receiver client on Chromebooks, businesses must have a XenApp or XenDesktop deployment in their data centers, and then install some new files which will allow the connection from the clients to their virtual desktops and applications. Citrix note that the Chromebook setup will allow users to

“Access your applications and Windows desktop at your office, home, or on the road; keep your information stored on your provider’s secure servers, not on your device; [and] move from desktop to tablet to smartphone.”

While this is a major boost for the Chrome OS, Google still have a long way to go before they can start competing with the big boys like Windows and Mac OS.

Source:

Chrome Blog

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6 Responses to Now You Can Run Windows Apps on Chromebooks

  1. admin 1 August 16, 2011 at 4:22 am #

    This is brilliant for the enterprise. With this combination, you can now do on Chromebooks anything on can on Windows plus a lot more like:
    1. boot in 6 seconds,
    2. instant sleep and resume,
    3. light weight, portability and world leading battery life,
    4. low maintenance, low cost of desktop support and ease of management,
    5. automatic zero effort remote data storage and backup to ensure data is never lost if your laptop is lost or stolen.

    Putting your Windows desktops on Citrix, Vmware, RedHat or Windows servers makes them much easier and cheaper to manage as well as more secure. This is a win-win situation all round for business users. Chromebooks without Windows, have at this stage a limited appeal, except for information workers, data entry workers, and for high level executive staff who are primarily concerned with communication, document sharing, and data access, rather than low level secretarial and accounts staff who spend their time typing lots of documents or entering data into lots of spreadsheets.

    There are a few users who would be better off with high end Windows workstations or laptops who wouldn’t fit into this scenario – for example CAD technicians, Photoshop artists, and journalists and reporters who need to do video editing on the move, but these people also readily fit into the mix, since installing the Chrome browser on the Windows workstations and laptops gives these Windows desktop and laptop users exactly the same user interface, features, and even the same portable user settings as the Chromebook users. As I said, this is absolutely brilliant – a win-win situation for everyone (except perhaps for those whose with interests in pushing monopolies).

  2. Anonymous August 17, 2011 at 7:16 am #

    So you aren’t running any Windows app on the Chromebook, just remoting in to another computer that is alreay running the application.  Really you’re running two computers to do one task, and there are already programs out there that allow you to remote into a computer through the web browser (Teamviewer and Log Me In come to mind).  I think I’m still going to skip on a Chromebook.  I can get an 11″ netbook from ASUS running Windows 7 for 100 dollars less.

    • admin 1 August 17, 2011 at 11:46 am #

      I am talking about business use here. A Windows 7 netbook, while being fine for cash strapped computer hobbyists, is not really suitable for business use. Besides being painfully slow (due to the hardware being underspecified to run a full OS like Windows 7), having a low resolution screen and cramped keyboard, poor battery life, low build quality, and being expensive to manage and having a very high maintenance overhead (as Windows desktops do). 

      Businesses look at overall costs. You may well save $100 on a cheap Windows netbook, but you will pay $1000+ more over about a year on increased desktop support and maintenance. Computer hobbyists will configure, maintain and update their computers for free, and indeed they regard it as a labour of love. In a business however you have to pay someone to support, configure, maintain and update Windows desktops and laptops, and labour costs for doing this are very expensive. In addition, there is the reduced productivity associated with long boot up times, slow computer performance, slow typing/poor screen resolution, and limited battery working time. 

      As far as Chromebooks are concerned, I don’t think their competitors are netbooks or tablets. What they are really competing with is physical desktops and laptops, and mainly in a WiFi based “Google campus or multi-campus” style office environment where they will replace wired LAN Windows desktops and luggable laptops with lighter wirelessly networked Chromebooks, with only occasional use in the train or car. 

      If you are going to use Windows and you have a reasonably competent IT department, then virtualizing the Windows desktops is the cheapest way to do it in terms of support, provisioning, and security lock-down and maintenance overhead, and not everybody will necessarily need Windows. The Chromebooks are virtually zero maintenance, and all corporate data is stored on corporate servers – Windows desktop user data, corporate web sites for data access and upload, and corporate web apps. This means that corporate data amenable to server based backups, rather than relying on users to do that for themselves – which means corporate data is protected from loss, and it also means greater data security because no data is stored on laptops that may be lost or stolen. 

      Basically, for an enterprise with a sufficiently technically competent IT department that can manage the servers, Chromebooks accessing virtualised Windows servers is a neat solution.

  3. Yeomandroid September 13, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    Will I be able to use Citrix as a regular user to remote access my other computers that have software that I need to use?

  4. Reputation Management January 13, 2012 at 4:57 am #

    Chromebook is Google’s expansion into providing operating systems, hardware and software. Chromebook for Business is a software and hardware package aimed specifically toward businesses.

  5. Adam February 15, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    In order to use Citrix Receiver you will also need either XenApp or XenDesktop to publish the Windows apps or virtual desktops.  A simpler and less costly alternative is Ericom AccessNow, a pure HTML5 RDP client that enables Chromebook/ChromeOS users to connect to any RDP host, including Terminal Server (RDS Session Host), physical desktops or VDI virtual desktops – and run their applications and desktops in a browser.  AccessNow is a fraction of the price of Citrix Receiver and installs in a few minutes.

    Ericom‘s AccessNow does not require Java, Flash, Silverlight, ActiveX, or any other underlying technology to be installed on end-user devices – an HTML5 browser is all that is required.

    For more info, and to download a demo, visit:
    http://www.ericom.com/html5_RDP_Chromebook.asp?URL_ID=708

    Note:  I work for Ericom

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