Now that Project Campfire seems to be completely dead, the prospects of running Windows apps on a Chromebook may appear to be too but that’s not the case at all based on recent reports, thanks to a company called Droplet Computing. That’s because the aptly named software Droplet Container will soon be making its way to Chrome OS, bringing a way to install and run Windows software on the platform’s devices.
As its branding implies, Droplet Container works similarly to Linux installations on Chrome OS in that the apps themselves are run in containers. In fact, it's made to run any app from any platform on any platform. First introduced two years ago and since released on both Windows, Linux, and Mac computers, the solution will effectively works by providing the underlying architecture that's missing on a given device and an environment for legacy apps to be installed and run.
The only real drawback will be that apps need to be run in a requisite container. Apps that are designed for Windows 7 or some other specific environment will only work for a Droplet Container set up for those apps. Windows 10-specific apps that aren't available for Windows 7 machines, for instance, aren't going to work.
So where is it for Chromebooks?
Development on Droplet Container for Chromebooks specifically is not only well-underway. It's nearly complete. Droplet Computing hopes to finalize and ship the solution by the fourth quarter of this year. For now, the company says the primary aspect of Chrome OS that's holding things back are unspecified changes made to the ecosystem by Google as well as a couple of changes that need to be brought to the Linux side of things.
Linux will serve as the base for Droplet Container on Chrome OS. So, more directly, the company is waiting on Google to launch the GPU acceleration features in Chrome OS that are required for some apps to run properly. It's also waiting on features such as support for audio input in Linux on Chromebooks via microphone.
Once the solution has been released, Droplet Computing will move on to making improvements for Chrome OS too. The company plans to ensure that software installed via Droplet can be placed behind their own icons and run in their own windows rather than only in Droplet Container. That follows in line with Chrome's recent push to make web apps or other apps appear and act more like native experiences -- bringing a level of consistency to the incoming solution.
This couldn't come at a better time
News that Droplet Container is still in the works and should be released on Chrome OS this year could not come at a better time. Google was spotted removing its own code that would have allowed Windows to run on some Chromebook hardware in mid-May. That would have been an entirely different solution, relying on a dual-boot capability instead of containers. The feature was expected to bridge the gap between the two ecosystem where those still exist.
With that project now basically shelved, Droplet Container is going to be one of very few solutions, if not the only one, allowing Windows and Chrome OS to coexist on Chromebooks.