When Microsoft ended support for its Windows XP operating system, Google smelled an opportunity.

Rather than go hard on software, Google is focusing on hardware — specifically the Chromebook. It’s offering discounts to make the Chromebook more popular, particularly in the enterprise.

The whole point is to make Google devices more prominent in the world of business, in line with Google Apps and, increasingly, the Google public cloud. And it follows Google’s move to bring WebEx conferencing software to Chromebooks, too.

Today Google said it would pay companies $100 for every managed device they purchase in the Chromebooks for Business program.

But that’s not all. Google has also drawn up a discounting scheme in partnership with VMware and Citrix, which provide Windows-based virtual desktops for company IT departments to offer their employees. Through these partnerships, business users can access any software that’s not otherwise available as web-based services.

All told, Google can take $200 off the cost of Chromebooks for Business when they come with Vmware’s virtual desktop service, and Chromebook for Business purchases also can come with a 25 percent discount on Citrix’s XenApp platinum edition. The latter option comes with software to help get off Windows XP.

“Companies in this position now find themselves at a timely crossroads,” Amit Singh, president of Google Enterprise, wrote in a blog post on the news. And now Google is itself is trying to make a play. The deals are good until June 30.

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