The announcement was made at VMware's Partner Exchange and explained in a blog post by Rajen Sheth, director of product management for Chrome. Sheth wrote that users now can manage Windows desktops from a Chromebook.
"Today, customers can fully embrace the cloud with Chromebooks using VMware Horizon DaaS," Sheth wrote. "VMware and Google are working together to make the migration of legacy applications even easier, by using the HTML5/Blast experience from Chromebooks. This means you can work with Chromebooks and connect to a Windows experience running VMware Horizon View."
This addresses one of the major concerns of enterprises that claim that the main risk of a move to Chrome devices in the enterprise is lack of support for legacy Windows apps. According to David Johnson, a principal analyst at Forrester, now that users can hold onto the familiarity of Windows, it might make the transition easier.
"By partnering with VMware, Chromebook users can still have access to a Windows desktop environment as long as they're connected to a reliable, high-speed network," Johnson said. "For workers where this is a viable option, companies can benefit from lower endpoint device costs while still preserving access to a well-managed Windows desktop environment and apps hosted either in their own datacenter or in the cloud."
According to research done by Forrester in Q3 of 2013, 52 percent of IT professionals who were surveyed said that implementing or expanding the use of desktop virtualization, thin client, and application streaming technologies is a high or critical priority. But, of that same survey group, only 8 percent said they were planning to implement within the next 12 months.
While Chromebooks still maintain a somewhat negative image as an enterprise option, they do give IT personnel the opportunity to move away, if even slightly, from constant imaging and maintenance. One thing is certain—Google still needs to build trust with the enterprise. According to Gartner Research Director Gunnar Berger, this announcement might give them a better standing with the enterprise.
"Without a clear strategy here, Google has a major uphill battle to get enterprises to embrace their technology. The announcement today is a powerful statement for both companies, VMware is a trusted brand in the enterprise which is what Google needs, and Google is a major player in mobility (Android) which is something VMware is trying to showcase, and it's why you saw the Airwatch CEO on stage directly after this announcement," Berger said.
While the announcement does bolster Google's trustworthiness with potential enterprise customers, it is not a magic bullet. Google still needs to address the other enterprise concerns of Chrome devices, such as productivity when you have a poor Internet connection, privacy concerns, lack of customizability, and control over computing experience.
Berger also mentioned that he doesn't think there will be many companies moving from old XP machines directly to Chrome devices. But, the VMware announcement does give companies the option to move to a Chrome device without "letting go" of Windows.
"It's important to note that enterprises are most likely not moving from XP to Chrome OS. What they could do is move from XP to an SBC/VDI/DaaS solution, which are all still Windows based options," Berger said. "Supporting these models enable the enterprise to support any device (BYO) including Chrome OS. So Chrome OS won't necessarily pull share away from Windows from the app standpoint, but it has potential to be used as an endpoint client."
No matter what happens—whether the VMware-Google connection proves itself as a viable enterprise option, or meets a deadpan reception—this latest move is further evidence that Google is quickening its pace in targeting the enterprise.
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is Enterprise Editor for TechRepublic. He covers startups and enterprise technology and is passionate about the convergence of tech and culture.