Google Operating System to Run Windows Apps

Dennis Faas's picture

Google's forthcoming Chrome operating system (OS) will be able to run applications from other operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows. The procedure is a relatively simple technical solution, though one which has practical limitations.

The Chrome operating system, which has been released in a form developers can experiment with works in a different way than most web browsers. It's designed to run when the computer is online and is, to a major extent, a souped-up version of Google's Chrome web browser.

Chrome OS Goes Easy on Old PCs

Instead of standalone applications on the computer, most icons link to online editions of programs. This is referred to as cloud computing. It will ship with links to Google-produced apps such as Gmail and Google Docs but third-party online apps can be added.

This has two main advantages on the system: one is that much of the processing work is carried out on super computers (such as Google's web servers) rather than the computer itself, making it appear seamless to run applications. The other advantage is that the applications themselves, and the user data such as saved files, are stored online. That means Chrome OS can work on low-cost computers which don't need a hard drive to store data.

There are two major disadvantages with this form of centralized computing, however. The first is that you would need a constant Internet connection to perform almost any function. The second is that Chrome OS users are limited to running only those applications which are available online. That rules out many Windows applications, as the majority of MS Windows applications are designed to run on a dedicated system. This could in turn deter potential users from switching to Chrome.

A Partial Solution: Chromoting

It's now emerged, though, that Chrome OS will feature a way around part of this problem. A Google software engineer has revealed a feature, unofficially dubbed "Chromoting," which will reportedly "enable you to access legacy PC applications right within the browser." Once again, however, you would require an Internet connection for this functionality to exist. (Source:

Though no other technical details are available, it seems most likely it would mean the system has a remote access feature built-in that allows you to access your home PC. This would mean that users would have to leave their Windows PC switched on, set up a sharing option, and then access it directly through their Chrome computer. Any data they saved would be on the Windows PC itself. (Source:

Drawbacks of Chromoting

While chromoting may work for some, it won't be viable for everyone. For example, it may be an issue for those who don't own a secondary PC and/or who want MS Windows apps natively.

There would also likely be some licensing issues with the developers of the Windows applications wanting a fee for remote access. It's not known who would bear those costs.

Another issue would be that if the Windows PC became completely frozen or locked up, somebody using Chrome OS on the move would be unable to physically reset it if it stopped responding to keyboard and mouse commands.

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