Google targets businesses with Chromebooks for Work

After making great gains in the education market, Google is pointing Chromebooks straight at business customers.

Google wants to convince you that Chromebooks are enterprise-ready.

Even before the fall school buying season started, Google sold a million Chromebooks to the education market.  Google now aims, with its Chromebook for Work program, for these lightweight, Linux and cloud-based laptops to become just as popular for office-users.

Saswat Panigrahi, Google's Chrome for Work Product Manager, blogged, "We’re taking a big step toward making it even easier for companies to select Chromebooks as their device of choice by announcing features specifically focused on improving identity, manageability, virtualization, performance and pricing."

These new business features are:

Single sign-on: This will enable your office workers to log in with the same credentials and identity provider. It uses the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML standard. It can work with most identity systems including CA SiteMinder, Microsoft Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS), Okta, Ping Identity, SecureAuth, and SimpleSAMLphp. The latest versions of Chrome OS also incorporate multiple sign-ins with which users can securely and quickly switch between work and personal accounts. 

Improved Wi-Fi network connectivity: Businesses can now easily provision Chromebooks with client certificates to access 802.1X EAP-TLS wireless networks and mutual TLS-protected web resources. With the Admin Console, system administrators can pre-configure their secure networks, push certificate management extensions and pre-select certificates to be used with certain websites and networks. Partners such as Aruba Networks, Cloudpath Networks and Aerohive Networks have already integrated this functionality.

Expanded Chrome settings deployment: Getting new workers or contractors provisioned with web apps on Chrome is now easier than ever. With the Admin Console, IT administrators can push bookmarks and many other settings to signed-in workers.

Improved remote Windows desktop and application options: In partnership with Citrix and VMware you can now run remote Windows sessions with VMware's Horizon View desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) and Citrix's Citrix Receiver for Chrome . These also include seamless integration with Google Cloud Print; cut-and-paste between local and virtualized applications; better audio and video playback; improved license and application usage monitoring; and end-to-end SSL-protected network connections.

Richer graphics experiences: Next generation Chromebooks will support rich graphics and powerful 3-D applications thanks to Nvidia's GRID's virtual GPU and Tegra K1 processors combined with VMware's Blast Performance technology. This will enable users you to seamlessly run 3-D modeling and simulation applications on Chromebooks.

Cheaper pricing: Starting immediately, businesses can purchase the Chromebook for Work advanced software features, management, and support through a new annual subscription option of $50 per device per year. This new pricing option is available now in the US and Canada, with more regions to follow. In the event one or more of your Chromebooks breaks or is stolen, you can transfer the Chromebook for Work license.

This comes on top of Google making it possible to use Android applications on Chromebooks and Adobe adding its Creative Cloud applications, starting with Photoshop, to Chromebooks. Put it all together — Enterprise administration tools, support for over a million new applications, the ability to run Windows applications via remote virtualization, and, finally, popular PC and Mac applications — and you have a real challenger for Windows on the office desktop.

Related Stories: