Parallels Desktop Comes to Chromebook Enterprise

Posted on October 20, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Chromebook, Chrome OS, Windows 10 with 5 Comments

Parallels Desktop is now available for Chromebook Enterprise, allowing business customers to run Windows apps directly on Chrome OS for the first time.

“Chrome OS is increasingly being chosen by modern enterprises, either for remote work, hybrid, or in the office,” Google vice president of Chrome OS John Solomon said in a prepared statement.  “We are thrilled to partner with Parallels to bring legacy and full-featured Windows applications support, through Parallels Desktop for Chromebook Enterprise, to help businesses easily transition to cloud-first devices and workflows.”

Parallels Desktop for Chromebook Enterprise lets businesses enable a new feature in Chrome OS that will download a Windows 10 virtual machine (VM) image, install it on users’ Chromebooks, and make available any Windows applications those users need. Which apps are installed can be controlled by the business using the Google Admin console, and licensing is handled on the backend as well, so users can just get to work.

What’s missing in this first generation release are some of the niceties we see today in more established versions of Parallels Desktop, such as Coherence mode on Mac, which lets users run Windows apps side-by-side next to macOS apps. But Parallels tells me that that feature is on the roadmap and will be available soon.

But even in 1.0 form, Parallels Desktop for Chromebook Enterprise supports a lot of useful functionality, including cross-platform capabilities like a shared clipboard, user profile, and custom folders. The product also supports dynamic screen resolution so that you can drag the app window to resize it and automatically scale the contained Windows environment to match. Parallels Desktop for Chromebook Enterprise can also be run full-screen, of course.

Parallels Desktop for Chromebook Enterprise is available now and costs $69.99 per user per year. A full-featured one-month trial with five user licenses is available for businesses that wish to give it a try.

Oh, and what about individuals?

In this initial release, Parallels Desktop is only available for businesses, but Parallels tells me that the product will be made available for individuals who have compatible Chromebook hardware in the future. Parallels Desktop requires an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of internal SSD storage.

I have access to the product and hope to be able to evaluate it personally soon.

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Comments (5)

5 responses to “Parallels Desktop Comes to Chromebook Enterprise”

  1. straker135

    Paul this is very interesting. Licensing means that Microsoft still gets their cut for the VM instances of Windows but I am intrigued that seems to be annualised. Also the minimum hardware requirement of 16GB of RAM should take care of VM performance. I look forward to hearing your experience of real world performance. How would this compare to a full Microsoft Windows Enterprise license on a per seat annual basis? Would this meaningfully undercut Microsoft's own offering do you think?

    • Paul Thurrott

      I'm not 100 percent clear on how the licensing works, but my understanding is that it's handled through G Suite/Google Workspace and that the workplace is still paying Microsoft for whatever volume licensing system. However it literally works, Microsoft is still getting paid, yes.
  2. kdjones74

    One of the attractions of Chrome OS is a simplified client to manage for an Enterprise. If I add a Windows client (VM/Parallels), that increases the number of clients I have to maintain (2x), the number of OS I need to maintain (2x), and the number of OS vendors (2x). All of that negates the advantage of the "simply" Chromebook.

  3. curtisspendlove

    Wow. This is surprising.

    I adore Parallels on Mac. I’m very interested to read your review.

  4. behindmyscreen

    I see this as a solution for small businesses. Enterprises would use Citrix.

  5. melinau

    I've recently bought into Chromebooks with a beefy Acer Spin713, and it all works nicely, though even this high-spec £700 device isn't rated for Win10 on Parallels. As a long-time Windows & Office user I find the "Google way" of doing things a bit odd sometimes, but from a pragmatic point of view its fast and reliable & easy enough to adapt to.

    The fairly hefty hardware requirements of Parallels mean that Chromebooks capable of running Windows will be as costly or even more costly than ordinary "Windows" Laptops which work well with 'only' 8GB RAM.

    A big selling-point of Chromebooks is simplicity & low hardware costs, leveraging the ChromeOS & Google Workspace ecosystem. As a recent user of this ecosystem I can see its attraction: it does very much live up to some of those claims (nothing is perfect!). But once you've bought into that story and outside of some transitional arrangements, I don't really see the USP of buying pricier hardware specifically to run Windows - an ecosystem which you have most likely just moved away from.

    I should also expect that the virtualised Windows environment may not perform quite as well as a bare-metal install, further diminishing the attractiveness of using it.

    Despite these caveats I suppose there might be situations where a mixed environment of ChromeOS MacOS & Windows makes this solution more attractive.