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Can I run Windows applications on a Chromebook?

Chromebooks can provide a great low cost alternative to traditional Windows desktops/laptops but are less commonly used by businesses because of the need to run some Windows applications and the perception that these won’t run.   This is a shame because not only can you run Windows applications on a Chromebook but they provide a very stable and secure way of doing so and so the cost savings extend to reducing support costs as well as initial hardware costs.

You may read about Windows emulators that run in Android which can run some applications but at the present time these seem to be aimed more at home users and may not provide a sufficiently robust solution for businesses.   Not all Windows applications will run, and the limited system resources on a Chromebook may not be sufficient to run some Windows applications using an emulator.

The better way to run Windows applications on a Chromebook is to use them to connect to a hosted remote desktop service.   Here the Windows applications actually run on the remote Windows server but as far as the user is concerned look and feel as if they are running on the Chromebook.   They are especially good for connecting to shared applications that would traditionally run on a Windows network.

Using a hosted remote desktop service to run Windows applications on a Chromebook also provides a number of other benefits, including:

    • Multiple users can run Windows applications on Chromebooks that use shared data/documents or a shared database without the need for a local file server or any other local IT infrastructure beyond an Internet connection.


    • Good remote desktop hosting providers will have ISO certified information security policies in place to protect your data so businesses can meet data protection, GDPR and Cyber Security compliance obligations without additional investment.


    • Your hosted desktop provider will also support and maintain the remote desktop server, managing updates, anti-virus and fixing any Windows issues, as well as backing up your data.


    • Connection to your Windows application on a Chromebook just requires a relatively modest Internet connection, so users can connect from anywhere in the world.


    • Chromebooks are less prone to malware, and the usual bloating that Windows PCs seem to suffer from, slowing down performance.


    • As most of the “work” is done by the remote Windows server the Chromebooks don’t need to be particularly high spec, they don’t need to save documents or data so don’t need large disk drives.   At the time of writing a Chromebook with 2GB RAM, 16GB Hard Disk can be bought new for less than £200. This is more than sufficient to run remote application on a hosted remote desktop service.


    • The Chromebooks only need to run the Google Chrome web browser so even older devices that don’t have the ability to connect to Google Play and run Android apps are still perfectly suitable to run remote applications.


    • You can run as many Windows applications as you want from the Chromebook using a hosted remote desktop service, they can all interact with each other.


    • Some businesses and organisations are adopting a hybrid approach, taking advantage of lower cost Google Cloud services such as Google Apps, Google Drive, Gmail etc. and combining them with the ability to run any remaining, must have, Windows applications in the cloud using the hosted remote desktops, all via the Chromebooks.


At Your Office Anywhere we work with some household name organisations that have abandoned Windows desktops and use Chromebooks exclusively in conjunction with hosted remote desktops for their Windows applications.   To find out more about how you can take advantage of this cloud technology, and perhaps try a demo on your own Chromebooks just get in touch using the contact link below.

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