Google builds Cameyo app virtualization into ChromeOS

Google removes a significant barrier to ChromeOS adoption by partnering with Cameyo to deliver Windows applications -- SaaS, legacy, custom or otherwise -- natively to Chromebooks.

In case you didn't catch it amid all the news coming out of VMware Explore last week, Cameyo and Google announced that Cameyo's app virtualization technology has been built into Google ChromeOS.

This feature -- which Google is calling ChromeOS Virtual App Delivery with Cameyo -- is important because it validates, from Google's perspective, the use case for Windows apps on ChromeOS devices.

Why is it important to run Windows applications on ChromeOS?

For ChromeOS to grow, Google needed to invest in new areas, and invest they have.

Like most products that are intended as Windows and Windows app alternatives, ChromeOS -- and to some extent, Google at large -- has largely ignored use cases that demand Windows and Windows apps. They simply didn't need to pay attention to them since there were so many opportunities to grow their product install bases without delving into well-established markets. That's why ChromeOS has seen such success in education, with consumers or any other use case that doesn't need or want Microsoft Office Windows apps.

The ChromeOS group within Google has been trying to break into the enterprise markets for a long time. While many organizations have some ChromeOS devices in their fleet, the grip that Windows and Windows apps have on users and the business processes has made it a tough nut to crack. To that end, Google recognized the need to work with those business processes and use cases rather than change them.

Take, for example, Excel. While the Google Workspace team can no doubt position Google Sheets as an Excel replacement in many situations, most organizations employ Excel so deeply that any alternative is just too much of a change to endure. For ChromeOS to gain any additional traction in those scenarios, they need to adapt. That's where ChromeOS Virtual App Delivery with Cameyo comes in.

If you're not familiar with Cameyo, it offers an alternative to traditional desktop virtualization platforms that focuses specifically on apps. Cameyo's approach enables organizations to deploy any Windows app to any endpoint device without the extra baggage and infrastructure associated with commonplace desktop and app virtualization platforms. This helps organizations that want to modernize their approach to endpoints without ignoring the importance of Windows apps, even as they migrate toward browser-based equivalents.

IT can deploy this technology from the cloud using Cameyo's managed service offering, which is available for $30 per user per month and includes RDS Client Access Licenses and cloud consumption fees. It is also available as a self-hosted product, which IT can deploy on premises or in any cloud of your choice, with pricing at $15 per user per month.

The Google and Cameyo combination

Google and Cameyo worked closely on this integration to ensure a seamless experience for ChromeOS users, adding features such as native file system integration, clipboard support and file type associations so that docs on the local file system or in Google Drive are opened in their respective Cameyo-delivered apps. Cameyo also supports progressive web apps, which let users access their apps in standalone windows instead of a browser tab.

While the Google Workspace team can no doubt position Google Sheets as an Excel replacement in many situations, most organizations employ Excel so deeply that any alternative is just too much of a change to endure.

This isn't the only area of end-user computing where Google is increasing its presence, and the release of ChromeOS Flex last year has put it on the map as a viable option to repurpose endpoints as thin clients -- Google calls them cloud-first clients since the term thin client seems out of place these days. Those devices effectively become Chromebooks or Chromeboxes, complete with centralized management and the integration with Cameyo. They would work with all the other major desktop virtualization platforms, too.

It's refreshing to see new developments like this, and new interest from large vendors like Google, as the desktop and app virtualization market continues to evolve to fit the needs of the day. While we're certainly past the golden age of desktop virtualization, the long tail of Windows apps will keep the need to deliver those apps top of mind for IT organizations for many years to come. It's great to see novel approaches like this that will help shape that future.

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