We are on the fast track, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, for more cloud-based PC solutions. IT shops are experiencing huge problems supporting remote workers, already underfunded schools are in crisis mode for the same reason with teachers complaining they aren’t tech support, and users are anything but happy in both groups.
The obvious solution is to move to some virtual desktop solution, but thin clients are generally thought to be underperforming and annoying to use. But a lot of things have changed over the last couple of decades concerning network performance, and if you can convince users that they can live on the cloud, you also remove one of the most significant impediments to making that jump.
This dynamic is why NVIDIA’s GeForce Now Cloud-Gaming Service moving to Chromebooks could be a game-changer.
Let’s explore that this week.
GeForce Now is a production cloud gaming platform that performs as a showcase for what NVIDIA’s technology can do when properly implemented and configured in a cloud solution. It is as much a demonstration at scale of NVIDIA’s capability in the cloud as it is a gaming service. Carrying games that typically would require high-end desktop equipment, this service potentially not only expands to audiences for the games it carries but the capabilities of the systems that use it ranging from tables to set-top boxes. Finally, it is a performance showcase for not only what the cloud is capable of, but what your local network can handle. There are still significant regional issues concerning bandwidth and latency in some areas, and this service can both showcase the incredible capability some regions have and the lack of that capability that still exists in other parts of the world.
The problem with Chromebooks
Chromebooks have been successful in education, which formed a beachhead for the product and allowed it to make some inroads into business. But they are generally thought of as tools for light work, such as writing, email and browsing the web, while inadequate for anything that requires real performance. Now while the first ARM-based products were performance dogs, the current Intel-based offerings have performance in line with their Windows counterparts.
The volume that these products enjoy is still relatively small, and while everyone accepts that users often want to play games on their device, game support has primarily relied on games that tend to play better on smartphones.
So the very thing that makes the Chromebook attractive to IT, its limits on running user-focused entertainment apps, makes the product far less attractive to users, and users often got the deciding vote.
NVIDIA GeForce Now
GeForce now potentially addresses both problems. From the perspective of users concerned that a Chromebook doesn’t have enough performance being able to play AAA games on the Chromebook, using GeForce now illustrates a different path and provides them with a gaming machine level of performance. This performance benefit not only expands the utility of the Chromebook, but it also sets the stage for future cloud-based productivity solutions that are also becoming far more mature.
You need to build a large enough group of advocates to make any change, and this growing comfort with high performance, albeit entertainment-focused solution, should create a pool of advocates for cloud desktop computing that will help drive that future change. GeForce Now also provides the entertainment content that users want and need on their portable device without compromising the device’s security. IT, both in companies and schools, isn’t adversely impacted, the Chromebook isn’t compromised, and the user remains a non-problem while still gaining safe access to the high-performance content they want.
Wrapping Up: An early taste of our future
GeForce Now, on a Chromebook, provides an early taste for what our eventual future is likely to become. Chromebooks tend to be low performers with advantages in terms of lower complexity, higher IT control and a more appliance-like experience. These advantages do lend themselves well to schools and education, but they work against user needs. To offset that is the cloud that people don’t yet trust as users even though they increasingly live off cloud services.
GeForce Now is one of the services that plows the field in anticipation of our future cloud desktop harvest. It is a critical stepping stone to our cloud desktop future while also allowing players to avoid some of the recent drama between platform stores and game providers.
In short, GeForce Now on Chromebooks plays a far more significant role in our transition to the business desktop future than most realize.
Rob Enderle is a principal at Enderle Group. He is a nationally recognized analyst and a longtime contributor to QuinStreet publications and Pund-IT.