I was first exposed to this concept years ago when consulting with a law firm that handled nursing home liability cases. They had a powerful server in the office, but no regular personal computers, just thin-client terminals at each desk that ran separate instances of the software applications installed on the server. Today, this model still exists, but more often with regular Windows PC's and Macs connecting over the office network or, more commonly, from remote locations via the Internet. This often how Affinity's consultants work when away from the office. Their programs, email, files, and documents are "hosted" elsewhere, not on their personal laptop computers.
Remote workers still carry relatively expensive full-fledged Windows and Mac laptops in this era of virtualization even though it is probably overkill for most. That is largely because there isn't a huge choice of portable laptop-style thin-client devices. And if there were, they would be completely useless without a working Interent connection.
That is where the Chromebook steps in. While it is significantly more useful with an Internet connection than without, there remain many things you can do with a Chromebook when off-line. It is in many ways a modern and improved version of a thin-client device. It is also less expensive and more secure than any Windows or Mac laptop, which is a huge plus for law firms.
So how does this virtualization concept using Chromebooks work? We are starting to see business-oriented Chromebooks. For example, HP just announced a new Chromebook that is a MacBook Pro clone in appearance, but less expensive while being more secure. It was designed specifically to integrate with the Microsoft infrastructure that forms the core software used by most law firms. It does this using the Citrix Receiver 2.0 for Chrome extension, which lets you remotely run Windows applications on the HP Chromebook 13 and other Chromebooks.
I've long been a fan of Chromebooks for lawyers because they are secure and, when on-line, can handle the vast majority of computing tasks a lawyer needs to do. Now we are entering an era when they can do even more when connected to a virtual Microsoft desktop environment. For most users, once they log in, they would be hard pressed to distinguish between using a Chromebook via Citrix and a full Windows laptop running applications locally.