Google Chromebooks are getting even more useful now that Citrix has created a version of its Receiver that lets users run certain apps virtually through the browser.

Image: Google
By Pete Pachal2014-08-21 11:00:28 -0500

One of the criticisms of Chromebooks is that they can’t run apps per se — pretty much everything they run is done through the Google Chrome browser. That keeps the machines nimble, but limits the kinds of experiences they can serve up.

Unless of course those experiences are adapted to run through a browser, and that’s exactly what Citrix has enabled. The company has directed its virtualization powers at Chrome specifically, creating a version of its Citrix Receiver to simulate a native device experience within the browser for some apps.

With the Citrix Receiver, users will be able to run some specific apps by using the Chromebook as a window to a virtual machine. The integration is deep, and those apps will be able to use Google Cloud Print, work with the clipboard and access the device’s speaker and microphone.

The software (which is free, although Citrix servers aren’t) will be available publicly before the summer’s up, and a few businesses have been trying out the beta. One of them is Chapters Health System, a Florida hospice care provider. By ditching Windows machines for Chromebooks, its workers cut the inconveniences of four-minute boot times and multiple logins for Windows, a VPN, Citrix and the apps.

In that situation — where the organization is already running virtual machines on old hardware (four-minute boot times? Not with Windows 8.1) — switching to Chromebooks makes a ton of sense. However, other businesses with with workers who need more flexibility will have a more difficult time.

Nonetheless, there’s no question that Chromebooks are getting more powerful and nimble. At the same time, organizations with specific (and limited) needs for their machines — especially schools — are giving Google’s cheap laptops a look and liking what they see. Little wonder the category is rising fast, and Citrix’s Receiver can only help.

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