Google's Chromebooks get Citrix XenApp business makeover

Access to Windows apps

Google has underlined its ambition to draw more enterprises to the budding Chromebook platform by announcing a tie-up with Citrix to access Windows applications through the latter's XenApp delivery system.

The heart of this marketing effort is the Chromebooks for Business programme which has set itself the task of marketing the diminutive computers as a business-ready platform and not just a cheap consumer alternative to Windows 8.

Under the Citrix tie-up, the combination of Citrix XenApp virtual app delivery and the Chrome Citrix Receiver for HTML5 will give business a way of accessing mainstream Windows apps. Because this still depends on the Internet connection, bandwidth efficiency is optimised by Citrix's HDX technology.

To help things along, Citrix has announced a 25 percent discount under the Chromebooks for Business programme which bundles XenApp Platinum Edition with the AppDNA management system.

"Enterprises have been steadily adopting Google Chromebooks as an easy-to-use and cost-effective alternative to traditional computing platforms. Citrix and Google have been working together since 2010 to ensure our customers have access to enterprise-critical Windows apps in the Chrome environment," said Google Enterprise president, Amit Singh.

"The approaching Windows XP end-of-life brings a tremendous opportunity for organizations of all types to rethink their approach to computing and transition to Chromebooks for improved manageability, security and cost savings," he added.

Singh is correct that the two firms have collaborated to fuse Citrix's apps system with Google's platform through the App Receiver but the latest announcement is a step up from that. Interestingly, the timing of the new support wasn't specified in the announcement but could be as early as May's Citrix Synergy conference.

Google is gradually improving the potential of Chromebooks as a serious business platform, with VMware announcing a virtual desktop to run on the computers in February. Web conferencing is another are where support is improving with Cisco's WebEx and Citrix's own GoToMeeting now on the platform.

Despite the opportunity handed to Google by the XP End of Life, Chromebooks remains a bit of a niche for businesses. Using Citrix or VMware helps change this perception but only for businesses already using this kind of infrastructure.

The other limitation is simply the flimsiness of the current crop of Chromebook designs. Built to be as cheap as possible, it is only with the recent announcement of Samsung's more mainstream Chromebook 2 that these laptops have looked robust enough for use in the field.

Google tried to set a higher standard with its well-received proof-of-concept Pixel Chromebook. For the platform to take on the business market Google will need more vendors to copy its lead.

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