The latest figures for business-to-business sales of Chromebooks have shown an increase of 250% compared to 2013. In the first five months of 2014, Chromebooks accounted for nearly 35% of all commercial channel notebook sales (an estimated $1.4 million).
The strong performance of hardware running Chrome OS seems destined to continue, especially within the education segment. Traditionally, with their tight IT budgets, universities and primary and secondary schools are the ideal candidates to boost sales of a solution of this kind. Some analysts have started considering Chrome as the fourth platform alongside Windows, Mac OS X and iOS. The main hardware vendors have added Chromebooks to their product lists, with Samsung being the main actor at the moment, but with Acer and HP expanding their portfolio accordingly.
Figure 1. Chromebook Vendors' Shares of Unit Sales to End Users, Worldwide, 2013
Chromebooks for education: Pros and cons
Educational institutions are turning to Chromebooks, seeing them as an affordable and competitive alternative to traditional Windows laptops - not only in unit price, but in cost of maintenance and deployment as well. Chromebooks have many advantages but do have some limitations as well, for instance it is not possible to run any Microsoft applications on them.
Although there are good alternatives to the Microsoft Office Suite, such as Google Docs, they are not always suitable for professional use. Also, students have to be proficient in the use of MS Office, considering that more than 80% of businesses worldwide are still using it as their main platform.
Many educational institutions still have a significant amount of valid Microsoft licences bought previously, an investment destined to become shelf-ware if a move to a complete Chromebooks environment is made.
Chromebooks for education: Application Virtualization
The evolution of virtualization offers a solution: the latest advances in this technology allow use of applications even when not installed on the device using them. Application virtualization allows any device to run an application even if the OS is not supported or there is a resource-sharing conflict. The education segment can exploit all the advantages of Chromebooks while continuing to use Microsoft Office. They can continue benefiting from their previous licensing investment and prepare students well for the job market.
Chromebooks for education with Parallels RAS
Parallels RAS is a comprehensive solution that allows delivery of any application and virtual desktop to any device. The evolution of Parallels technology has achieved outstanding performance on the major OSs: Linux, Windows, Chrome, Android, iOS and Mac. By supporting application virtualization, Parallels RAS allows seamless use of Microsoft applications on Chromebooks, therefore enhancing the end-user experience. The Parallels RDP Client guarantees a secure and encrypted connection between Parallels RAS and the device, in order to ensure compliance with security policies whenever a document or an application is shared on the network.
For the end-user it is very simple to become accustomed to this new way of working. By clicking on the Parallels RDP Client symbol, a window opens up indicating all the available applications. By clicking on its icon, an application will seem to run locally, permitting all operations such as copy and paste, print, save and edit. Data are saved remotely on the central server, but are available whenever a student needs to access them.
The flexibility of Parallels RAS goes much further: it is possible to access applications and related data not only from a device, but also from any HTML5 browser. With this extra mile in the adaptability of the software, we can imagine a classroom with hundreds of students sharing the same workstations, all having access simultaneously to their data just by typing their credentials into the browser.
Chromebooks for education: Conclusion
The market share for Chromebooks is a hot topic at the moment - sales are moving fast and the market is wondering what the next step is going to be. The education segment seems to be very keen about this solution, attracted to its low cost and reduced administration needs. However, many have refrained from adopting Chromebooks due to the limitations on the use of Microsoft Office. Application virtualization is a good workaround because it allows applications to be run on incompatible OSs.
Parallels RAS offers a seamless and cost-effective solution for the provision of virtual applications and desktops. Parallels RAS is the ideal support for educational institutions wishing to embrace the advantages of Chromebooks.
Chromebooks for education: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/education/products/windows8/default.aspx#fbid=SeplDwkr-Os
Chromebooks for education: http://www.zdnet.com/article/chromebooks-and-education-a-perfect-match/
Chromebooks for education: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2014/11/with-chromebooks-students-find-new-ways.html
Chromebooks for education: http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2013/07/30-ideas-for-using-chromebooks-in.html#.VMugeGjF9yU
Chromebooks for education: http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/education/solutions/chromebook.html
Chromebooks for education: http://www.cdw.com/it-solutions/mobility/cdw-chromebooks.aspx
Chromebooks for education: http://www.eweek.com/mobile/acer-unveils-2-new-chromebooks-for-education.html