Chrome OS to go virtually native with VMware deal

Google has always tried to make the lack of native or local applications software an advantage for users of Chrome OS. After all, the whole rationale is that by going cloud-based you enable the underlying personal hardware to become lighter, slimer, quieter, cheaper, cooler and less electrically demanding; not to mention quicker to boot up and far, far more able to resist viruses and malware (at last thus far). The cloud does the heavy lifting so the user doesn’t have to.

So of course no local applications: and you don’t need them because there is Google’s own cloud apps collection for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and so on. These work well enough… most of the time.

And yet… and yet. It’s not quite good enough. We all know it, even Google. If Microsoft landed one punch with its Scroogled campaign it was the ‘it doesn’t run PC applications’ objection. The ugly guys in the pawnbrokers were right all along: if it doesn’t run the app you particularly want, then it’s a brick.

So on the business side Chrome OS penetration will be slowed by all the ‘legacy’ Windows applications doing critical things like accounting in businesses and within the large enterprise. These won’t go away in a hurry.

And on the individual ‘user’ side, there is always at least one application - probably the ‘professional’ application you part earn your living by, such as a top-end graphics package, Web editor or network management app, that you can’t do without. If that (whatever it is) was available on Chrome OS you’d take it on like a shot, you might be saying.

The obvious answer is to virtualise these apps and make them available in the cloud, preferably with easy terms, long, free try-out periods and so on. All you need is a user base large enough to make the virtualisation and the offering of the service worthwhile to the developer/owner of the application.

Enter VMware, the perfect partner here. Google, which must now be able to prove to VMware that it is generating (or will be generating) the sort of Chrome OS business and education sales that would make a partnership viable, will be hoping it’s now on the slow, steady road to closing down that final objection.

The deal should not only allow the most ‘critical’ Windows appllications to become available to Chrome OS users, but an entire legacy desktop environment, available through HTML5. VMware is calling this “Desktop-as-a-Service” (DaaS) and it and Google are working to adapt the software to work with Chrome OS. The result will be VMware Horizon View, a virtual desktop available for Chrome OS.

VMware says this will be targetted as a business service and sold through VMware’s vCloud Service Provider partners, using another bit of software product called Blast HTML5. It will work on both public and private clouds and even in-house on a server. The initial pricing is expected to be in the £18 to £30 per seat, per month range.

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