Last month, Google announced a partnership with Parallels to bring Windows apps to Chrome OS. An interview today provided a high-level overview of how this works and what will be required.
Speaking to The Verge, Google explained how “Parallels Desktop will boot a full copy of Windows” for the initial implementation of this feature. Like when virtualizing on Mac, the full Windows desktop will appear in a native Chrome OS window.
Complete with a top bar for minimize, fullscreen, and close controls, it will look like any other browser tab or Android app. In a sign of the deep integration, opening certain Windows files will automatically send you to the Parallels instance.
However, in the future, Google will have “other types of things where you don’t even have to run the whole Windows desktop, you’ll just run the app you need.”
In terms of implementation, enterprises — the intended customer — will have to purchase Parallels Desktop, which will be made available as an option in the Chrome Enterprise Upgrade program, and of course, a Windows license.
Meanwhile, Parallels is aimed at Chromebooks used “for power usage,” with Google pointing to an Intel Core i5 or Core i7. RAM requirements will be differentiated by whether your device has a fan (8GB) or is fanless (16GB). This is a somewhat limiting constraint that will put the feature more in the realm of enterprise, rather than K-12 customers. Final hardware requirements have yet to be released.
Google today confirmed its work on Project Campfire to dual boot Windows and Chrome OS before partnering with Parallels. The team shuttered that effort last year as it did not want to sacrifice the Chrome OS security model (BIOS, firmware, and boot process).
Ultimately, Google wants to make Chromebooks viable for businesses that still need legacy Windows app but are primarily moving to the cloud. A launch is still slated for later this year, while Google has a sign-up form to learn more.
Update 8/6: A new, busy screenshot of Parallels Desktop for Chromebook Enterprise running was previewed today. The fall launch date was also reiterated as we again see the Files app integration.
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