Friday, August 5, 2016

Interview CodeWeavers President Discusses Porting Windows Apps to Chromebooks

After becoming the first company to show Windows apps running on a Chromebook, CodeWeavers' James Ramey tells WinBuzzer how CrossOver for Android will work. He also talks about the need for Windows apps across platforms and the hardware restrictions of Chromebooks.

 Last week I had the chance to sit down with James Ramey, President of CodeWeavers. The company’s CrossOver technology has been porting Windows applications to Linux and Mac for nearly two decades. Recently the company became the first to bridge Windows apps to a Chromebook, using CrossOver for Android.

During a wide-ranging discussion, Ramey talked about how CrossOver for Android overcomes the hardware restrictions on Chromebooks. He also had plenty to say about how Google’s computing platform has plenty of room to grow.

Nevertheless, Ramey believes that there will always be a need for Windows applications, but is unsure on Microsoft’s plans with cross-platform openness.

You’ve been porting Windows applications to Linux for nearly two decades and Mac since 2006. What were the differences or challenges in porting to Chromebook’s compared to those other platforms?

“Chromebooks are a more sandboxed environment than either the Linux or Mac platforms, so there are more restrictions in regards to applications like CodeWeavers (CrossOver). Not restrictions from the standpoint of just not wanting Windows applications, but restrictions in how applications run in general. A lot of times our applications link back to data and information. We run things on the fly, and sometimes that isn’t conducive in the Chromium environment.

There are some challenges there in how the applications run. Additionally there are other limitations. We are dealing with Open GL ES over Open GL, so there are different libraries to transfer for as opposed to platforms such as Linux or Mac.

From a hardware standpoint there are other challenges. Chromebooks in the past have not had the processor, RAM, and hard drive space you would hope to have in a PC. There are some challenges working with hardware constraints, not necessarily for our technology, but regarding the support of Windows technology.

Microsoft Windows based applications have this expectation to have almost unlimited RAM, of vast hard drives, and incredible processing power. If all those conditions aren’t met then you have some instability, you have some performance degradation that you work through. That’s where we have to compensate and find ways to make things run better with restricted resources.”

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