Is This A Silver Bullet? Google, VMware Bringing Windows To Chromebooks

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News Posted: Wed, Feb 12 2014 1:02 PM
A collaboration between Google and VMware may remove a huge barrier to chromebook adoption in the enterprise by enabling legacy Windows applications to run on the Chrome OS machines.

Chromebooks already offer strong upside for businesses with their low cost, easy management, and inherent OS-level security, and NPD says that chromebooks are already responsible for some 21% of all notebook sales in the commercial channel.

However, the inability to run legacy Windows applications has been a difficult problem to overcome for Chrome OS computers. Let’s face it, if you work in a professional setting of any kind, you’re going to have to open, edit, and create documents and files that require Windows-based software at some point.

chromebook management console
Chromebook with management console

But Google and VMware are coming together to offer a Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), running those Windows applications and desktops virtually with VMware Horizon View. For now, this will be an on-premise service, but it will soon be available as a fully managed subscription service at some point in the relatively near future.

Being able to run Windows from a chromebook is a huge deal, and there’s no two ways about it. At this point, this powerful tool is obviously designed for enterprises and not individual users, but that will further negatively impact PC sales as more companies choose chromebooks over traditional desktops and notebooks.
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sevags replied on Wed, Feb 12 2014 2:22 PM

This mens that you need an active internet connection to use the service? Yet one more negative point about chromebooks. Take in account internet downtime, transmission rates, bandwidth limits, not to mention the service fee associated with the subscription, and there seems to be little upside to this news when it comes to consumer environment. The school which I am employed at is looking to purchase 40 laptops for the start of the next school year and Chromebooks have been brought up many times but not being able to run legacy software, and needing an always active internet connection are major problems even though we have internet on every PC on campus. I am one of the major opponents fighting to against the adoption of chromebooks on campus. Ideally we would be getting windows 8.1 Pro systems WITHOUT touch (to save $ and because typing is a skill we still teach) or to further save cost and go with Win7 Ultimate.

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RWilliams replied on Wed, Feb 12 2014 3:32 PM

I'm interested to see where this goes. Though if I am looking to -ever- get work done, I'm not going to stick to a limited device that's going to make things difficult.

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Dave_HH replied on Wed, Feb 12 2014 5:13 PM

I'm not sure about a silver bullet but it would definitely help remove one barrier to entry. Since Google apps are getting more prevalent in the enterprise. This could be a compelling option to consider for some IT types.

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scolaner replied on Thu, Feb 13 2014 1:19 AM

But really, how much work does anyone get done without an Internet connection anyway? As an adult, I've never had a job that I could perform without an active connection. Besides, you're saying that all your PCs have Internet connections anyway, so what would the problem be on that end, exactly? (Also, there are many tasks you can perform on a chromebook without being connected to the Internet.)

So, let's pretend I'm right about the above for a second and that you're right about the legacy software issue and subscription cost (which you are, at least to an extent). How much more money are you going to spend per PC on those 40 machines than you would per chromebook? $100? That's four grand total, easy. Is it worth $4,000 just to be able to use legacy Windows applications sometimes?

(If those occasions aren't too frequent, you could buy the school a few Windows PCs in addition to a fleet of chromebooks, stick them in a lab, and have the kids use the lab when they actually need something Windows-y.)

Not that I'm assuming I know more about your job than you do--I'm sure there are a thousand details and whatnot that you know and I don't. Just throwing out some thoughts in reaction to what you're saying.

Ack, sorry, this got all TL;DR.

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sevags replied on Thu, Feb 13 2014 7:16 PM

scolaner; the students do a lot of work without the internet. As far as the net goes they are only really allowed to use a few resources such as wikipedia, some google searches, and a few child research specific websites. They do a lot more local work. Other than Office there are many x86 programs that they use; a typing program, language program, math specific program, French course programs (we are a french bilingual school), a program where the teachers program can view live what's being done on any specific computer and even take over control of it. 

It is a larger upfront cost you are correct but we already have a lot of money invested in software that wouldn't be able to transition to chromebooks, it would require less of a learning curve both for teachers and students, and believe knowing how to navigate and use Windows is still an important skill to know and more important than ChromeOS is (as of today, who knows what the future holds). 

If we were getting chromebooks just for internet access it would still be cheaper to keep our current desktop monitors, build 1 server, and a bunch of dummy cheap workstations and run remote desktop, same outcome, same low performance, but cheaper, no vmware subscription, etc.

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scolaner replied on Thu, Feb 13 2014 7:58 PM

Ah, I gotcha. Yeah, if they're primarily using the machines offline with specific software you've already invested in, that makes plenty of sense. (Also, good point on the need to learn to use Windows. Also also, bi-lingual French school? Cool!)

Still, I think chromebooks offer a huge value upside given the right circumstances. Your school just isn't that circumstance.

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sevags replied on Fri, Feb 14 2014 1:00 PM

Yeah overall it is better for us to stay with the windows environment. Chromebooks are a really hard sell when it comes to convincing the parents. We live in a point and access world now and if the parents hard their way we would have 1 iPad per student which is NOT the way to go. It's a shame that it isn't easy switching OS environments when you have so much invested in the current one.

And yeah bilingual french school. MANY of our parents are actors, directors, writers, doctors, lawyers. I am not french though and working for them can be a trial in patience lol

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scolaner replied on Sat, Feb 15 2014 11:01 AM

(Oh man...don't get me started on iPads in schools...)

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