Hidden deep in a blog post full of PR speak, Google has announced that it’s bringing Microsoft Office to Chrome OS through a partnership with Parallels.
At Google, we recognize the modern way of working as being a cloud worker—on a browser and browser-based apps for the vast majority of the work day (you’re reading this in one, right?), untethered because the devices you use are mobile-friendly and cloud-native. We’ve long been saying that almost any business role can be a cloud worker, and COVID-19 has dramatically made this point. As a result, 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. For example, our new partnership with Parallels brings legacy application support—which includes Microsoft Office desktop apps—to Chromebooks. More to come on this over the coming months.
The Verge has more details on how, exactly, this is going to work, and the gist is that Parallels will be integrated with Chrome OS to allow Microsoft Office to run locally on the device.
While Chrome OS has long supported Windows desktop apps that are streamed via the cloud through a Parallels Remote Application Server, this new partnership means the apps will run virtualized on Chromebooks instead. The new feature is set to be available this fall for Chrome Enterprise customers.
Parallels Desktop will be integrated natively into Chrome OS, improving performance and enabling offline access for these applications on Chromebooks. It’s a surprising, but welcome move that will mean Chrome OS will be able to support both Android apps and Windows apps in the future.
This is an interesting move, and I hope it will become available to regular, non-enterprise consumers, too.