Google and virtualization provider VMWare announced a partnership that would allow Chromebooks to run Windows apps via the cloud.

Using VMWare’s Horizon Desktop-as-a-Service solution, users will be able to run regular Windows applications such as Office from a remote server. This service is clearly targeted at enterprise users who want to move away from costly, hard to maintain, and sometimes obsolete Windows installations, to more flexible cloud-based solutions, without having to give up any software that’s crucial to their business.

Individual users can already use Google’s Chrome Remote Desktop app to connect to Windows desktops, but VMWare’s solution is better suited for the needs of companies. And it’s not just apps – VMWare can stream full desktops from the cloud, making it easy for users accustomed to Windows to work on Chromebooks.

Google’s move comes as Microsoft readies to kill support for Windows XP this April, which could potentially leave thousands of customers without security patches on aging systems. Some of these users, especially smaller ones, may be tempted to replace their old Windows systems with Chromebooks rather than go through the trouble of migrating to newer versions.

With more and more of our digital lives finding a home in the cloud, services such as this one could make Chrome OS a viable alternative to traditional PCs, even in the enterprise sector, which has been so far firmly attached to Microsoft’s applications and services.