Using Chrome Remote Desktop For Gaming In Chrome OS


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In earlier Articles I’ve talked about using Chrome Remote Desktop for using Windows Programs in Chrome OS and for using Microsoft Visual Studio in Chrome OS. While wanting to use Windows Programs in Chrome OS is a slightly more mainstream than wanting to use Microsoft Visual Studio in Chrome OS, there is one area of Computing that’s not fully covered by Chrome OS equivalent web Apps is Gaming & this is where Chrome Remote Desktop really comes into its own, there’s no performance issues for playing built-in Windows Games, more advanced games might have a problem unless you’ve got a Multi-Core CPU, a dedicated Graphics Card and lots of RAM.
I’ve not had much time to experiment with Gaming through Chrome Remote Desktop, and will do a follow-up Article when I’ve had chance to experiment with Gaming via Chrome Remote Desktop, but doing the standard stuff like Programming and using Windows Programs on my aging Toshiba Laptop via my Acer C720 Chromebok via Chrome Remote Desktop is as smooth as using my Toshiba Laptop directly even when connecting over a 3G connection, but Gaming will need a high-speed connection that is as stable as your WiFi connection if you want to successfully Game using Chrome Remote Desktop over the Internet.
Roland

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Learning To Program In Microsoft Visual Studio: From A Chromebook & Chrome OS User


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While there is the Neutron Drive IDE Web App for Programming in Chrome OS, anyone who wants to learn how to Program in any or all the Languages that come as part of Visual Studio, it’s probably best to learn how to Program using Visual Studio since it’s the Industry Standard IDE for Programming.

But Visual Studio is expensive!!!! I hear you cry, well that may be true for the Professional & Ultimate Editions of Visual Studio which have been part of the Visual Studio line since 2005. visual Studio Express 2013 is composed of 3 different Editions (Visual Studio Express Web for Developing Web Applications, Visual Studio Express Windows for Developing Windows 8+ Modern UI Apps & Visual Studio Express Windows Desktop for Developing Traditional Windows Programs that run on all versions of Windows) There is also an Express Edition of  the server-side Version Control Team Foundation Server that also runs on Client Machines thanks to Windows built-in Web Server IIS. These Express Editions including Team Foundation Server are free to Download & use on as many Windows Desktops or Laptops as you like, Visual Studio 2013 only runs on Windows 8/8.1 so if you’re running Windows 7 then you will need Visual Studio 2012. Visual Studio Express takes all the complexity out of Visual Studio Professional or Ultimate.

Programming using Visual Studio & Chrome OS

The only way to Program using Visual Studio on Chrome OS requires a Windows Computer with Visual Studio installed along with the Chrome Web Browser & the Chrome Remote Desktop extension installed and the Chrome Remote Desktop installed on your Chrome OS computer. See my last Article for more on Chrome Remote Desktop.

Microsoft Visual Studio Express 2013 Windows Desktop Edition running on Chrome OS via Chrome Remote Desktop

Microsoft Visual Studio Express 2013 Windows Desktop Edition running on Chrome OS via Chrome Remote Desktop

Visual Studio runs just as smooth as if you were using it directly on your Windows computer over Chrome Remote Desktop when on a WiFi Network but it runs slightly slower when using a Mobile data connection, but this might show that there is some form of compression going on that’s not as noticeable when on WiFi.

Programming in Visual Studio while using Chrome OS gives you all the benefits of Chrome OS. This is true for any Programmer who wants to Program while away from home or the office, as they don’t have to take a heavy Laptop.

With Chromebooks being light and inexpensive compared to Windows Laptops, & Windows Ultrabooks of a comparable size and Wight being the same price if not more expensive than a regular Windows Laptop then a Chromebook makes the excellent companion  for a programmer especially when using Chrome Remote Desktop means that a Programmer doesn’t have to take their expensive Laptop on the road with them to Program.

Visual Studio Express is the perfect IDE for any novice Programmer as it allows you to install the correct tools for what you want to create.

  • If you want to create Web Apps then Visual Studio Express Web Edition is the right IDE for you.
  • If you want to create Windows 8 Modern Apps then Visual Studio Express Windows Edition is the right IDE for you.
  • If you want to create traditional Windows Programs then Visual Studio Express Windows Desktop Edition is the right IDE for you.

It’s even possible to install all three of the Visual Studio Express Editions if you require all three. If you’re a student and lucky enough to be able to get a Student MSDN Subscription then I’d suggest getting one of the none Express Editions of Visual Studio from there. (intact I’d recommend that any student that is able to get a Student MSDN Subscription gets all the downloads that they’re entitled to while they can).

Why I chose Microsoft Visual Studio Express Windows Desktop Edition

  I chose Microsoft Visual Studio Express Windows Desktop Edition because I’m currently interested in creating traditional Windows Desktop Programs not the Windows 8 Modern Apps or Web Apps. Once I’ve learnt how to write Programs in all the different Languages available in the Windows Desktop Edition I’ll move on to the Windows Edition before finally going on to the Web Edition.

I’ve always wanted to learn how to Program since Visual Studio Express originally came out in 2005 so learning to Program for the Windows Desktop was the obvious first step to take in the learning process for me, but for many of you that are reading this and are maybe thinking about learning to Program then the Visual Studio Web or Windows IDE’s might be more of what you’re into for your first step into Programming. (The downside to Programming for Windows & not the Windows Desktop is that you need to pay for a Developer Subscription to distribute your apps on the Windows Store, where as Windows Desktop Programs can be easily distributed  through Source Forge, Dropbox, Box, OneDrive & Copy meaning that you can get your Programs out there with little or no cost involved.)

I’ll do a follow-up Article at some point in the future.

Microsoft Visual Studio Express 2013 Windows Desktop Edition running on Chrome OS via Chrome Remote Desktop

Microsoft Visual Studio Express 2013 Windows Desktop Edition running on Chrome OS via Chrome Remote Desktop

Roland

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Using Chrome Remote Desktop To Use Windows, Mac OS X Or Linux In Chrome OS


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While many people call Chromebooks not real Laptops because you can’t run programs like Visual Studio or Office on them and the fact that some of the Chrome OS apps that do the same thing are a little lacking in features compared to their Windows, Mac OS X or Linux equivalents.

Google does offer a lightweight and convenient solution for anyone who needs to use Windows, Mac OS X or Linux programs in the form of Chrome Remote Desktop, Chrome Remote Desktop allows you to keep using your Chromebook, Chromebox or Chromebase while being logged into a different OS remotely. This is handy if you need to use a particular program doesn’t have a Chrome OS equivalent.

I use Chrome Remote Desktop to log into my Windows 8.1 Pro Laptop to keep it up-to-date as well as  use programs like Visual Studio & PhotoShop. I can see Chrome Remote Desktop being a very useful app for College students, as they can keep their heavy Windows Laptop or MacBook Pro at home or in their dorm room and use a Chromebook at lectures and still be able to use programs like Visual Studio e.t.c. without having to worry about carrying a heavy Laptop all day along with their textbooks e.t.c.

A Windows 8.1 Pro session open in Chrome Remote Desktop, while TweetDeck is open and docked to the right hand side of my Chrome OS Desktop

A Windows 8.1 Pro session open in Chrome Remote Desktop, while TweetDeck is open and docked to the right hand side of my Chrome OS Desktop

Chrome Remote Desktop is really handy for me as I prefer the Keyboard on my Acer Chromebook to the Keyboard on my Toshiba Windows Laptop, so Chrome Remote Desktop allows me to Code in Visual Studio while still using my preferred Keyboard.

Google Calendar on the left of my Chrome OS Desktop, while Google Remote Desktop is on the right with Visual Studio running in Windows 8.1 Pro

Google Calendar on the left of my Chrome OS Desktop, while Google Remote Desktop is on the right with Visual Studio running in Windows 8.1 Pro

Chrome Remote Desktop has another handy little feature that is Remote Assistance that allows a Desktop can be shared to allow for someone to help with troubleshooting while not being sat in-front of the computer that needs troubleshooting, but this is beyond the scope of this Article as it’s not really a feature that many people will use compared to the Remote Desktop feature.

Roland

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Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000 And Chrome OS


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When I was using Chromium OS on my Toshiba Satellite C660-15R I was unable to use my Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000 USB headset as it wasn’t detected by the OS.

Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000

Today I tried using the same headset on my Acer C720 Chromebook running Chrome OS 35.0.1916.27 dev and my Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000 gets detected by the OS and the headphones work perfectly fine, but I’ve not had chance to check the Microphone side of the headset yet.

The microphone side of the Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000 gets detected by Chrome OS so I assume that it will work with Chrome OS, I’ll update at a later date when I’ve had chance to try it out properly.

On a side note my Bluetooth headset that I got for my mobile phone works with Chrome OS but only as headphones as Chrome OS doesn’t detect that it has a microphone built-in and instead uses the Chromebooks internal speaker.

Conclusion

The sound coming from the Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000’s headphones is comparable to that of the internal speakers of the Acer C720 Chromebook, but the Bass coming from the Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000’s headphones could be slightly more noticeable compared the Acer’s internal speakers.

The Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000 make the perfect headphones for anyone who listens to music via Spotify or Google Play Music & for watching videos on YouTube, Netflix, Google Play Movies & TV or any of the other video streaming services that are available.

If the microphone side of the Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000 works in Chrome OS then it’s the perfect headset for YouTube Producers or anyone that uses Chrome OS for creating videos and needs a headset for monitoring audio as well as adding voice overs, & for anyone that uses Google Hangouts and wants to use something better than the internal speakers and microphone.

Roland

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Microsoft Launch Office Web Applications Launchers for Chrome & Chrome OS


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Microsoft have now launched their free Office web apps as Chrome & Chrome OS app launchers. Joining the existing Chrome & Chrome OS app launchers for OneDrive & Outlook.com launchers for Word, Excel, PowerPoint & OneNote, all but Excel are available by searching for the relevant app in the Chrome web Store, for anyone who wants the PowerPoint launcher here’s the Chrome web Store listing (courtesy of OMG Chrome).

The Microsoft Office web apps work like Google Docs, Google Slides & Google Sheets by auto saving your document while you work, the only difference is that the Microsoft Office web apps look exactly like the Microsoft Office 356 Suite with exactly the same UI as the full Office 365 Suite, the only difference is that the File Menu is slimmed down slightly with the lack of  a manual Save & Save As.

The Office 365 web apps look more professional compared to the Google Office suite due to the more complex UI, but they both do the same tasks with ease even though the Google Office suite offers the ability to work Offline where as the Office web apps are purely online only.

Google was the first to launch Office in the cloud when it Launched Google Docs (now Google Drive), closely followed by Microsoft with office web apps. Naturally Google Drive was the only installable web apps on Chrome OS although Microsoft Office web apps was available through Live.com and now Outlook.com websites, when RollApp recently launched it gave Chrome OS users the ability to use the full & not modified for Cloud Computing LibreOffice suite (with installable web app launchers), now Microsoft join in late to the party bringing their 3 web apps to Chrome OS as installable web app Launchers, Word, Excel, PowerPoint & OneNote join the already available Outlook.com & OneDrive web app launchers.

Can Microsoft entice none Office 365 subscribers to Office Online or will the small amount of free storage on OneDrive compared to the 15GB of free storage space on Google Drive & the offer of 100GB of free Google Drive storage on top of your standard free storage for 2 years for anyone who buys a Chrome OS device be enough to keep Chrome OS users with Google Drive.

I’ve got  Google Drive, LibreOffice on RollApp & the Microsoft Office web apps installed on my Chromebook, but other than giving LibreOffice via RollApp a go for articles on the Blog I tend to use Google Drive exclusively (probably due to the extra 100GB of free storage space for 2 years & it’s integration with the Chrome OS Files App), but I’ll probably give the Office web apps a try as I used to use them before I started using Google Drive (Docs as it was known as at the time).

Conclusion

 Microsoft must really see Google Drive as serious competition to launch Office web app launchers for Chrome/Chrome OS, but for Chrome OS users it brings more choice to the table.

Roland

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Microsoft Considering Chromebook Rival


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Microsoft are reportedly considering a Chromebook rival called the Bingbook. The Bingbook will be powered by a light version of Windows 8.1 with key Microsoft Services, and is intended as a free or low-cost Upgrade to Windows 7.

Microsoft are that desperate to get people to Upgrade to Windows 8.1 that they would go against their anti-Google Scrooogled campaign to get people to Upgrade to Windows 8.1.

Microsoft need to seriously update their web services before even contemplating a Chrome OS rival.

  1. The outlook.com web-mail service needs to be brought up to the same level as GMail as it’s pretty basic.
  2. The Microsoft Calendar within outlook.com needs to be brought outside of outlook.com.
  3. OneDrive needs to be brought outside of outlook.com, and have an increase of free storage from the current 7GB.
  4. The Office web apps need to be updated to allow direct printing instead of converting to a PDF and then printing at draft quality at best.
  5. Internet Explorer needs to be made a little more lightweight to support lower screen resolution and hardware spec of a Netbook.

For Microsoft to make a competitor to Chrome OS they’d have to abandon the Modern UI of Windows 8.1 which I can’t see them doing in a million years as they seem to think that it’s perfect despite the dismal uptake of Windows 8/8.1.

I can see several catches to the Microsoft Bingbook idea and one of them being having to buy a yearly or monthly Subscription to Microsoft Office 365 once you’ve purchased a Bingbook, which is fair enough if they make a free version for people who have a Windows 7 Laptop or Desktop that works perfectly fine, but if people have to buy new Bingbook then people aren’t going to be too pleased after paying $250 or £149 (based on current exchange rate and the proposed $250 retail price).

Microsoft will then have to suck up to Google to licence Google Cloud Print or develop their own version, as well as tailor the Office web apps for better printing as at present both the free Office web apps and the paid Office 365 versions convert documents to PDF before downloading them and sending them to your printer, and the quality is only Draft quality at best and not suitable for anything professional such as business use and for say job applications e.t.c, and since the largest group of Windows 8/8.1 hold outs are Enterprise users.

This proposal also contradicts Microsoft’s announcement of extending the pre-install and support life for Enterprise users of Windows 7. But with the amount of U-turns that Microsoft have done since the initial release of Windows 8 then this proposal wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

Conclusion

If Microsoft does go ahead with this proposal the initial release would be worse than the initial release of Chrome OS as Microsoft will probably rush through the initial release to try and claw back some of the money that they have lost due to the poor sales of Windows 8/8.1.

If Microsoft want to build a true competitor to Chrome OS then they will have to create a stripped down Windows 8.1 that doesn’t use the Modern UI, and instead go down  the Chrome OS root and build a lightweight Internet Explorer and call it the Bing Browser and build a kind of Bing OS around it with all the apps e.t.c being web apps and browser add-on’s as the main selling point of Chrome OS is being that a Chromebook is light weight and portable with excellent battery life. I can remember my first Netbook ( an Advent one, can’t remember the model) it had a 10″ screen a keyboard that was so cramped it was impossible to use, the battery life wasn’t the best and it wasn’t that light. It also ran Windows XP when it was more than capable of running Windows Vista, which I then put Windows Vista Ultimate on before installing Windows 7 Ultimate on which it still had on right up until dying earlier this year.

Since then I moved on to an Acer  C720 Chromebook that’s lightweight with excellent battery life. It’s so light that I carry it around with me everywhere I go even if it doesn’t get used.

Microsoft need to take note of Chrome OS if they really want to create a Chrome OS rival, and I think they’re going to struggle to get many OEM’s on board as Bingbook partners since Chrome OS’s popularity has risen in recent months and the Scroogled campaign hasn’t done Microsoft any favours. I think that the only realistic way that Microsoft can make a go of Bingbooks is if they retire the Microsoft Surface RT line of Tablets and replace them with the Bingbook line.

The proposition of giving away the Bingbook OS to OEM’s or even making it a free Upgrade to Windows 7 is probable all talk by Microsoft as Windows licence sales both to OEM’s and through Retail channels makes them money, buy giving the Bingbook OS away to OEM’s and possibly even as a free Upgrade to Windows 7 means that they’re going to have to find a way to make money from Bingbooks, but then the increased sales of Office 365 Subscriptions or OneDrive Storage Upgrade Subscriptions will more than make-up for the loss of revenue from Bingbook licences, but considering that Windows 8/8.1 take-up has been slow I can’t see anyone adopting the Bingbook concept as the Microsoft Services aren’t as mature as their Google counterparts, also Microsoft really need to make a cloud version of the VBA Scripting language to allow for people who have spent time creating Scripts or even extensions to the likes of Word and Excel to be able to use the Microsoft Office web apps and re-create all of their Scripts.

The real beauty of Google Services is that the Google Apps Script language that’s used to create custom functions, extensions and scripts for the various services is all cloud based and stored in Google Drive meaning that they’ll be available no matter if you’re using a Mac, Windows, Linux or Chrome OS Device meaning that your Google Sheets functions and extensions will work no matter what OS you’re using.

Chrome OS is being constantly updated with new features and you can always switch between the Current Stable, Beta and Development releases without too much trouble, but I can see Microsoft abandoning Bingbooks once Windows 9 is released as supporting low-end hardware isn’t really Microsoft’s thing, also the Bingbook concept is about boosting Windows 8.1 take up.

Roland

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The Chromebook Test: Living In Google Chrome For A Month (Conclusion)


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Well the month is up and I’ve fallen in love with the Chromebook concept, as they’re more affordable than the Windows powered Ultrabooks on the market & the MacBook Air.

The big selling points in my opinion are:

  1. Lightweight & Portable
    Chromebooks are more lightweight and portable than Netbooks that are on the market and have a bigger screen and keyboard making them easier to use.
  2. Affordable Computing
    They are more affordable than Ultrabooks that use Windows 8.1 or the MacBook Air meaning that anyone can afford one.
  3. Don’t have to re-install all Applications or Drivers when re-install Chrome OS
    All your Applications saved in your Google Account meaning that if you buy a new Chromebook or do a factory reset everything just syncs back to your Chromebook, & you don’t need Hardware Drivers for all the Hardware in your Chromebook.

Storage Upgrade

The only drawback to a Chromebook is the measly 16GB of SSD Storage meaning that you don’t get much space to store files locally & with the internal SSD being of a super slimline portable format to a regular SSD you can’t go to PC World or an independent Computer shop and buy an SSD to upgrade and it’s probably going to take a bit of searching online to find anywhere to get an upgrade from. I found a website that makes the form factor SSD’s used in Chromebooks, but they only do 128GB which is still on the small side compared to a regular 2.5″ Laptop SSD that can go up to 240GB of Storage, and the retailers that sell the Chromebook size SSD’s only seem to be USA, Australian or Chinese based meaning that if you live in Europe you’ll be having to wait a while for one to arrive and will possibly have to deal with import duty if you purchase one meaning that it could be a costly upgrade.

Usage

The reliance of being online all the time to do anything that can’t be done offline means that you’ll need to have a MiFi unit or Mobile Phone with Tethering when you’re away from home or anywhere without an Internet connection.

Chrome Web Store

One big problem that’s not to do with Chromebooks or Chrome OS/Chromium OS is the rather poorly designed Chrome Web Store that says that all Apps are Free even if they’re only limited trials that then need an ongoing Subscription, or in the case of some games on the Chrome Web Store needing an in Game Purchase to unlock the game fully.

This can  be a bit miss leading especially if you install a game and get nearly all the way to the end and find that you can’t complete it without an in-game purchase to unlock the full game.

Chromium OS on none Chromebook Hardware

The drawbacks of using Chromium OS on none Chromebook Hardware are.

  1. There is no Search Key on none Chromebook Hardware Keyboards
    The lack of a Search key means that even if you set the Search key within Chrome Settings nothing happens, but you can disable the CAPS LOCK Key.
  2. Still Heavy and lacks portability
    Making your own Chromebook using Chromium OS still means that you’ve got the lack of portability and weight of the Laptop you’ve used unless you use a pre Windows 8/8.1 Ultrabook.
  3. Poor Battery life
    You still have the Battery life of the Laptop you’ve used, but you do get a slight increase in Battery life over Windows or Linux, but you can always purchase an extra battery or two and swap them out as required.
  4. A redundant internal CD/DVD Drive
    You’ve got a CD/DVD Drive built into your Laptop that you’ll probably never use while using Chromium OS & I’m not even sure if an internal IDE CD/DVD Drive will even work within Chromium OS.
  5. Lack of Flash Player Support
    Adobe Flash Player isn’t supported in Chromium OS so you’ll struggle to watch most YouTube Videos and won’t be able to listen to music on Google Play Music.
  6. Lack of Media Support
    mp3,mp4 and some other Media Codecs aren’t supported meaning that you’ll not be able to listen to locally stored music or watch locally stored videos.

Conclusion

If you want a distraction free work environment to write letters, create Spreadsheets & Presentations along with check your email & social Networks e.t.c then Chromium OS is the ideal OS for you, but if you need full Media & Flash Player support then you’re better off just getting a Chromebook (which I’ll be doing at some point in the future).

Roland

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Chromium OS Desktop

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