Google Chrome OS Tool Provides Remote Access to Legacy Apps

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-06-14

A Google software engineer tipped the company's hand on how it plans to get its Chrome Operating System to work with legacy computer programs, The Register discovered.

Google Chrome OS is the search engine's stab at a Web-based operating system for computers, powering Web applications such as the Chrome Web browser. The platform is lightweight and is intended to boot fast when it appears on netbooks from computer makers this fall in time for the holiday season.

The Register sniffed around a public mailing list for Chrome OS and found that this message from Google software engineer Gary Kačmarč??ík confirming a process he calls Chromoting.

"We're adding new capabilities all the time," wrote Kačmarč??ík, a former Microsoft software design engineer. "With this functionality (unofficially named 'chromoting'), Chrome OS will not only be [a] great platform for running modern Web apps, but will also enable you to access legacy PC applications right within the browser."

Chromoting is akin to Remote Desktop Connection, the Microsoft Windows service that provides users remote access to PCs anywhere in the world, Kačmarč??ík said.

While the programmer did not provide more color, many in the thread understood this feature in Chrome OS as one that will let users access legacy applications, such as Microsoft Office, on existing Windows, Linux, or Mac computers.

Remote access in this case allows users to access their applications from machines other than those where the apps are residing. Citrix' GoToMyPC and others offer this functionality, allowing users to install a client to their computer that lets them access that machine from a Web browsing running on another computer.

Chrome OS is designed precisely to avoid the notion of on-premise software tethered to specific hardware. So it makes complete sense that it would have a remote access feature such as Chromoting, and that it would allow users to access older legacy apps on their Chrome OS netbooks.

Not everyone was excited about Chromoting. Mark Lunney, An Adobe Flash developer in the U.K. wrote on the thread June 10:

"I'm struggling to see the usefulness of this, I'm not going to keep my Windows Laptop running to use programs such as the Adobe suite. My experience with virtual machines also shows that they run quite slowly - fine for cross-browser testing, but not the kind of 3D modeling and video editing software that are the main reasons I don't think I'll be able to switch to Chrome."

This isn't the first feature the Chrome OS team has copped to. Chrome programmers said the OS and its Chrome Web browser sidekick will have a complete media player that approximates the functionality of Windows Media Player.

Meanwhile, blogger sleuths continue to piece together Google's launch partners for Chrome OS.

When Google's Vice President for Client Products Sundar Pichai unveiled Chrome OS last November he mentioned Acer, Asus, HP and Lenovo as potential providers of Chrome OS netbooks.

Download Squad discovered files in the Chromium OS Git repository that point to Acer, Dell and HP as potential partners.

The overlay-x86 bits referenced in the blog's picture configure Chrome's hardware support during the build process.

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