Can Google Chromebooks Replace my Windows Desktop?

June 15th, 2011

My hometown Boston Bruins are trying to come back from being down 2-0 in the Stanley Cup finals. It is tied 3-3 now and going to game 7 tonight. In the past 27 years only 2 teams battled back from that to win the Stanley Cup. Seems strange to call Google an underdog but in the world of desktops they are trying to do the insurmountable – knock Windows off the throne.

Samsung and Acer Google Chromebooks officially go on sale today. Google Chromebooks are another new desktop option for consumers and businesses to evaluate. Choice is good and we have never had so many options for desktops as we have right now. This industry hasn’t changed for 20 years and now all of a sudden it has changed more in 2-3 years than at any other point. Between Windows 7 (and now Windows 8), desktop virtualization, application virtualization, mobile devices, and now Google’s Chromebooks businesses have be confused on where the future of the desktop is heading. I don’t envy the technologist that has to decide what direction to go in.

For those not familiar with Google Chromebook you can check out the Google Chromebook site here. Essentially it is  an easy-to-use, web-based laptop that runs the Chrome web browser and your Google account. The Chromebook is built to work with Gmail and Google Docs as well as other cloud services like Salesforce.com or Dropbox. If you want more details you can check out a thorough review of the new Samsung Chromebook by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols over at Zdnet. I found this statement from the review especially interesting "Could I use a Chromebook as replacement desktop for all my work? Heck no. I like having all my data and applications at hand on a full-powered computer with a fat-client operating system like Linux or even Windows."

Most reviews of the Chromebook and the web-based approach to ‘desktops’ in general highlight the fact that we live in a Windows world and moving away from Windows and the enterprise applications built for Windows is not going to happen quickly especially for businesses. But what about if I want to move to Chromebooks now but still need access to Windows applications? Some people suggest that in order to do this you need to use desktop virtualization infrastructure (VDI) technology to host Windows desktops in your data center and allow your users to access these desktops. Unfortunately the fixed costs associated with setting up a desktop virtualization infrastructure are daunting for most business especially SMB’s. More importantly spending the time and money required to build and support VDI defeats the purpose of using Chromebooks and moving to the cloud in the first place.

We here at Desktone believe that you can have your cake and eat it too without building and managing onsite VDI. We take VDI technology and deliver it as a cloud-hosted desktop as a service (DaaS). This enables you to leverage Chromebooks for some functions and cloud-hosted Windows for others when needed. The Desktone Cloud servcie is also a montly service giving you the flexibility to determine your long term desktop stratgey as the market evoles. Check out a demo of the DaaS (Windows 7) running on a Chromebook.

What do you think – can Chromebooks replace your Windows Desktop? And let’s go Bruins!

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Posted by David Grant

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As Sr. Director, Product Marketing and Product Management for DaaS at VMware [formerly Desktone], David directs VMware's DaaS marketing efforts, including product management, product marketing and marketing/corporate communications.
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