Windows apps are coming to Chromebooks but only enterprise users for now.
Continue reading on Pixel Spot (blog)
Earlier this week, Google announced a joint partnership with Parallels, a company that specializes in OS virtualization, to bring full-featured Windows applications such as Microsoft Office to Chrome OS. The announcement, however, indicated that this feature will launch on Chrome Enterprise devices, and we don’t know if at all it will ship to consumers as well, but we certainly hope so.
Note: It looks like, within 24 hours of publishing this post, all the Chromium Bug links I found were made private. The original post has been left as is.
At any rate, Parallels said this feature would be available this fall, so I did a little searching on the Chromium Bugs site for any references to the software. It seems that devs were already at work on it as early as May 5th, 2020, far before the announcement. A Chromium dev also made the comment that the “feature [was] punted to M85,” or Chrome OS 85, in other words.
There’s also more work being done in the recent days here and here. Parallels seems to be running under some software called “PluginVM.” Google’s been working on PluginVM for at least over a year now. PluginVM is intended to allow users to install custom virtual machines but is targeted to enterprise users only at the moment. This certainly fits the story of the announcement.
Enabling PluginVM will also create a folder directory called MyFiles/PluginVM in the Chrome OS files app for sharing content between the two containers. This is very similar to what Google does with Linux (Beta).
Digging even further, I found the device and specs of the VM instance that a developer was using to run Parallels Desktop. From this messages.txt attachment, it was an i5 Pixelbook Go given the “Atlas” codename and the Intel references, and the VM instance was running 64-bit Windows 10 on 2 CPUs, 2 GB of RAM, and 64 MB of VRAM (video memory). One instance also showed 3 GB of RAM, so the amount of allocated RAM will likely be customizable as Parallels already allows.
All of these are exciting developments for sure, and we’re bound to see more of these little tidbits in the coming months as the feature gets readied for release. Chrome OS 85 is expected to hit the Stable channel on September 1st.