Google’s low-cost Chromebook devices are finally getting support for fully-fledged desktop Windows applications – to a point.

While Chrome OS has been able to run Windows apps for some time, users have only been able to access apps that are streamed via the cloud through a Parallels Remote Application Server.

Google has announced that starting this Fall, Parallel Desktop will be integrated into the cloud-based OS, enabling Windows apps to run on Chromebooks using the company’s virtualization technology. 

This will vastly improve the performance of the apps, according to Google, and will also enable offline access to legacy software such as Microsoft Office. 

There’s always a catch

There’s a pretty major catch, however. This functionality will only be available to Chromebook Enterprise customers initially, and Google hasn’t yet said whether it will roll out to all of its low-cost laptops. 

Still, the move – which means Chromebooks can now run both Android and Windows applications – will no doubt make budget ChromeOS laptops a more enticing prospect for businesses that rely on Windows software, and are looking to deploy cheaper hardware among their newly-remote workforce. 

“The Chrome OS team is working on new ways to make sure every company can benefit from the velocity created by supporting a cloud workforce,” John Solomon, VP of Chrome OS, wrote in a blog post.

“For example, our new partnership with Parallels brings legacy application support – which includes Microsoft Office desktop apps – to Chromebooks.”

It remains unclear how exactly desktop Windows apps will look on Chromebooks, though Google has confirmed that Parallels will run locally on Chrome OS, rather than in cloud. Parallels, which is being known for bringing Windows apps to macOS, emphasizes its software will enable collaborative remote work with Windows apps, whatever that means.

Google has said it will reveal more about its partnership with Parallels over the “coming months.” 

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