A newsletter reader read yesterday’s article of “Another Reason Why a Genealogist Might Want to Buy a Chromebook” and asked if Chromebooks can run Windows or Macintosh genealogy programs. I thought I would post the answer here in case other people have the same question.
The quick answer is “No.” Chromebooks do not run programs written for Windows or Macintosh or Linux or UNIX or other operating systems. Chromebooks today only run programs written for the Chrome operating system. As mentioned in yesterday’s article, a future release of the Chrome operating system will also allow most Chromebooks to run programs written for the Android operating system.
There are very few genealogy programs written for Chromebooks but many genealogy programs (or “apps”) are available today for Android, including apps from MyHeritage, FamilySearch, Ancestry.com, RootsMagic, BillionGraves, Find A Grave, and others. You can find a list of all the genealogy apps available for Android at https://goo.gl/EHvKPw. I assume that most of these apps will also run on Chromebooks once the new version of the Chrome operating system is released.
Please notice these Android apps are not identical to the programs available for Windows or Macintosh. In other words, RootsMagic for Android is not the same program as RootsMagic for Windows or RootsMagic for Macintosh. It is produced by the same company that produces RootsMagic for Windows and Macintosh but is a different program.
Android devices do not have high-capacity hard drives, powerful central processors, or large display screens. Most Android devices do not have keyboards although there are a few exceptions. They also do not run the Windows operating system. Therefore, Android devices only run programs, or apps, that designed specifically for the limitations of Android devices.
As mentioned in yesterday’s article, within a few months, most of the Android apps also will also operate on most Chromebook computers, the low-cost laptops that usually have full-sized screens and keyboards.
In the meantime, Windows programs will only run on Windows with one exception: Windows programs will run on Macintosh, Linux, or UNIX systems that have virtual computing software installed. See http://lifehacker.com/5714966/five-best-virtual-machine-applications for information about the more popular virtual computing products. However, that exception does not apply to Chromebooks or to Android devices.
Macintosh programs only run on Macintosh.
Apple iOS (iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch) programs, or apps, only run on Apple iOS devices.
Android programs, or apps, today only run on Android devices but that will change within a few months when most Android apps will also run on Chromebooks. Once the new version of the Chrome operating system is released, I expect I will test it on one of my Chromebooks and will write about my successes and/or failures here in this newsletter.