back to article We're not killing Chrome OS ... not until 2020, anyway – says Google

Google hopes to ease fears that its Chrome OS is not long for this world. The Mountain View ad giant said on Monday that it has no immediate plans to kill off Chrome OS nor the army of lightweight Chromebook PCs it has spawned: the web goliath has promised a "regular six-week software cycle and guaranteed auto-updates for five …

  1. Youngone Silver badge
    Linux

    Nobody likes change

    It looks to me that Google are throwing stuff at walls to see what sticks.

    Chrome OS seems to have been reasonably successful, judging by the piles of Chromebooks available to buy, but Android has been too. The beauty of the (more or less) open source nature of these is that others can build upon them (Android x86 being an example).

    I suppose over time your cheap Android or Chrome OS device might wind up unsupported, but still functioning as the Chocolate Factory move on to something new.

    The Windows development model seems a bit lumbering by comparison.

    1. Chika

      Re: Nobody likes change

      You may have a point, but this report also smacks of damage control after getting negative feedback from Chrome OS and Android users worried that Google might be looking to do a Microsoft on them (i.e. bring two ecosystems together into a single beast that is not really suited to either platform).

      1. Richard Plinston

        Re: Nobody likes change

        > this report also smacks of damage control

        The 'damage' seems to have been caused by misreporting* by the WSJ. What seems to be 'folded' is not 'ChromeOS into Android' but the ChromeOS development team into the Android development team.

        * accidental or deliberate.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Nobody likes change

          if I had a chromebook, I'd like ability to run Android apps... no reason they couldn't run in a sandbox on Chromebook-level hardware, is there?

          Similarly, there doesnt seem to be any reason that Abdriud devices couldn't run browser-based 'apps' a la Chromebooks.

          For sure, there will be some hiccups along the way, but more laptops touchscreens, phones get bigger and people connect BT keyboards....

          Seems a degree of convergence is inevitable bigger an

        2. SuccessCase

          Re: Nobody likes change

          "The 'damage' seems to have been caused by misreporting* by the WSJ."

          Oh come on, it's almost certain Google are stopping the development of Chrome OS. Why on earth, if they are merging the two, do they need to continue with an independent Chrome OS? It becomes, by definition, redundant. Google themselves have already said Chrome OS is being merged with Android. This is not just the merger of teams and this new announcement only commits them to continuing code maintenance of Chrome OS, not further development.

          The likelihood here is they have made this new announcement because they have belatedly realised they were about to bring down the Osborne effect on their existing Chromebook sales. Probably after someone in Chromebook sales read the WSJ article, spat out his morning coffee and got straight on the phone.

          1. Richard Plinston

            Re: Nobody likes change

            > Oh come on, it's almost certain Google are stopping the development of Chrome OS. Why on earth, if they are merging the two, do they need to continue with an independent Chrome OS?

            ChromeOS is based on the Linux kernel. Android is based on the Linux kernel. It is _very_ likely that they are merging the two kernel development efforts into one effort (one team). This does not stop development of ChromeOS, nor of Chrome browser nor of Android.

            This may also give 'convergence' where ChromeOS can natively run Android apps and Android can benefit from Chrome browser enhancements to run Chrome online apps.

            None of this indicates a need to dump ChromeOS, but it may get more Androidy.

            1. SuccessCase

              Re: Nobody likes change

              If your complaint is merely that the WSJ were using the term "merge" or "fold" in a source control sense, and that is not true, then why would you describe the article as damaging (and suggest possibly deliberately so) and not describe it as a legitimate scoop ?

              Read between the lines, all Google have said is that they will continue to work on Chrome OS for the next few years, so it's clear the have plans to stop. It's reasonable to presume they will maintain it for a period. So it is most likely they are dropping it into maintenance mode.

              1. Richard Plinston

                Re: Nobody likes change

                @FailureCase

                > If your complaint is merely that the WSJ were using the term "merge" or "fold" in a source control sense,

                WSJ claimed that ChromeOS would be 'folded' into Android and would be dropped. Google has stated that ChromeOS will continue. My 'complaint' was that WSU did _not_ report it as a merging of the teams and source code (which appears to actually be the case).

                > then why would you describe the article as damaging (and suggest possibly deliberately so)

                If you look a little more carefully at my message you might see that 'damage' was quoted. I was replying to someone else who claimed that the article was damaging.

                1. SuccessCase

                  Re: Nobody likes change

                  So your complaint is the WSJ haven't made clear merging doesn't mean they have to merge user interaction paradigms into a Windows 10 equivalent. OK that's a partially legitimate point in that whilst it's entirely possible (and even likely) it's true in terms of what Google is planning (and indeed what I naturally assumed having read the WSJ article). I then don't understand why you were being critical of the WSJ article, which simply said:

                  "Google engineers have been working for roughly two years to combine the operating systems and have made progress recently, two of the people said. The company plans to unveil its new, single operating system in 2017, but expects to show off an early version next year, one of the people said."

                  This doesn't represent a failure of understanding on the part of the WSJ, nor does it misrepresent Google as against what you have said. Perhaps you simply hadn't read the WSJ article and were judging it based on what The Register had reported. As always with The Register, it's best to go to the original source.

                  Later they go on to say:

                  "Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai, who led the development of the Chrome operating system in 2009, told analysts on a call last week that “mobile as a computing paradigm is eventually going to blend with what we think of as desktop today.”

                  Microsoft Corp. adopted a similar approach, creating versions of its Windows 10 operating system to power PCs and phones, allowing some apps to run on both devices.

                  By contrast, Apple Inc. maintains distinct operating systems: iOS for smartphones and tablets, and OS X for Mac PCs. Chief Executive Tim Cook said last month that combining them “subtracts from both, and you don’t get the best experience from either.”"

                  Again they have shown careful wording and haven't said what the new OS will look like on all platforms but have made some perfectly true reporting in relation to what Sundar Pichai said what Microsoft did and what Tim Cook has said. It could be argued they've implied Google has eschewed the Apple approach, when purely from the perspective of what the consumer sees that's not clearly so. But they haven't explicitly said that and any lack of clarity Is down to the possibilities Sundar Pichai has left on the table with his comment and is up for discussion (as we are discussing now). So to me the WSJ article appears a good one.

                2. Boothy Silver badge

                  Re: Nobody likes change

                  Quote: "all Google have said is that they will continue to work on Chrome OS for the next few years, so it's clear the have plans to stop."

                  No it's not clear they will stop, it just means that Google are not willing to second guess what they might decide to do in 5 years time.

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  3. Craigness

    5 years

    The "guaranteed auto-updates for five years" remark relates to the support cycle for individual devices, which have a minimum 5-year support. It has no relevance whatsoever to their long-term plans for Chrome OS

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: 5 years

      Sounds very much like what Microsoft is doing with Windows 7, which is on extended support since last January until early 2020: only security updates, no new features or bug fixes unless a real show-stopper is found for 5 years. In short: end of all development for the platform.

      How long until Apple announces their "revolutionary" "industry-first" OS model called Singularity?

      1. Craigness

        Re: 5 years

        "In short: end of all development for the platform."

        The life support for Chrome devices is for the hardware, not the OS. The OS hits a new version every 6 weeks and is a gradual development, so you won't get a Chrome XP followed by a Chrome 7/10 several years later and be stuck without updates.

        You *will* have no updates after 5 years, but there is no indication that development of the OS will end, and newer devices on the same OS version number will continue to be updated.

        And you definitely won't get a Chrome Vista!

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: And you definitely won't get a Chrome Vista!

          Of course not. If you didn't like vista you could blat your system and install an old, familiar version of windows. No chance of that if chrome os changes in ways you don't want.

          1. Craigness

            Re: And you definitely won't get a Chrome Vista!

            "If you didn't like vista"

            Not sure what you mean by "didn't like" and "Vista"!?!?!?!

            If you want to go back to an old version of Chrome it's easy: they supply an app which lets you create an image on a USB stick, so you just need to run that for a version you like, and you can return to it at any time. No security updates though, like with XP.

            1. sabroni Silver badge

              Re: create an image on a USB stick

              So how does that work? Google cloud services on your usb stick? They provide backwards compatibility on all their apis so you can run a 2 year old version of Chrome OS against the latest web services?

              Considering the way Google just retired the old Youtube api and broke a load of smart tellies I find that pretty hard to believe. It's not impossible for them to maintain all their old shit but they seem reluctant to.

              Have you actually used this method to run an old Chrome OS?

              1. Craigness

                Re: create an image on a USB stick

                Any old OS will have problems with certain newer software or API releases, and should not be exposed to the internet if it's not getting security updates. Whatever OS you're using, if the newer version has features you don't like, and the old one is not being updated, then you are out of luck. This is not just a Chrome thing, but you can install Linux on a Chromebook so Chromebook users have the same options as XP users. Using this as a criticism of Chrome OS is a fail. Ubuntu, Mac and Windows suffer exactly the same "problem".

                "Google cloud services on your usb stick?"

                No, it installs the OS on the laptop and you can access the internet if you want. The APIs which could fail if old APIs are dropped are the bookmarks and settings sync, and integrated Google Drive. Bookmarks and settings would still work on the device.

                Google updated its Youtube apps so Smart TVs were not affected unless they were on old OSs which did not allow for updates to apps, which is what you're advocating.

                Yes, restoring from USB does work.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 5 years

      My suspicion is that the continuation of Chrome OS is simply predicated on its continuing to increase its adoption rate in US schools. Dell has just released a new Chromebook with a wide spec range, which suggests some level of confidence.

      1. Code For Broke

        Re: 5 years

        Oh dear... I'm quite a fan of Chrome OS, and reading quite closely all of these articles for some reassurance of a healthy future. But now you tell me Dell is making Chromebooks? This certainly spells the end. Dell always arrives after the party has already peaked, and then sends who's left for the nearest exit by means of their banal comoditization. I'm utterly crushed.

  4. 404

    US Public schools

    ... who actually have an IT dept probably freaked right out upon hearing Chrome OS was going away - they've spent quite a few tens of k's worth of dollars on chromebooks - at least around here.

    1. Your alien overlord - fear me

      Re: US Public schools

      Yes, but now Google has the money what they want to do now is take your next years IT budget and keep that. And push adverts out to the young and impressionable.

  5. jonnycando

    Still gonna

    Put seabios on my c710 followed by ohhhh....gentoo or arch, or maybe mint.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Still gonna

      That's my approach. Got seabios onto this Tosh CB2, with the latest Ubuntu Mate appearing to work properly; still investigating Mint. 17.2 loads and runs but has issues which I hope will be resolved with a kernel upgrade to 4.2 as used by Ubuntu Wily.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Memo to Google:

    Before you turn off the lights on chromebooks, could you please unlock the hardware so we can put them to good (Linux) use and give them a new lease of life ?

    1. Code For Broke

      Re: Memo to Google:

      Eh? Unlock the hardware? What you on about? I realize most people only know about Google from their popular OS, but they also run a search business on the side. You really must give it a go sometime. It's a hoot. Or, you can go straight to the authority, johnlewis.is.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Memo to Google:

        "Or, you can go straight to the authority, johnlewis.is."

        Never knowingly undersold?

  7. jonnycando

    Re memo

    Should be doable once you discover what little trick enables r/w on your device. And if it didnt come with seabios, that will have to flashed.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    5 years

    you will find update support on your actual hardware less than that - not unlike the situation with android handsets...

  9. jzl

    Chromium

    Chrome may be dying, but Chromium could yet continue to live.

  10. Alan Denman

    Anti Google marketing

    Seems to me the news was mainly created to stifle the rise of Chrome OS. There is no mention of Jim Hood and the MPAA but the WSJ was the first in with it, them for some reason being an intended conduit in the Hood/MPAA New Corp thing. (sad that it makes us even more cynical about so called news)

    And in a way users are happy without updates, especially as they invariably introduce new exploits.

    Stodgy and relatively safe is Chrome OS.

  11. JDX Gold badge

    Based on previous "failed" products, it's very likely that Google would throw the OS completely over to the open-source community if they decided to stop working on it themselves, I reckon.

    1. mangobrain

      Open source

      Like this, you mean?

      https://www.chromium.org/chromium-os

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Better late than never?

    Google now on the journey to a unified OS, but 3 years behind MSFT.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Better late than never?

      They already *have* a unified OS (Linux). They may be considering unification at the level of user shell or application suites. If so, they should study Microsoft's recent experiences (tried it and are now backing out) and Apple's earlier experiences (thought about it and decided not to try it).

    2. Craigness

      Re: Better late than never?

      Google unifies in the cloud. Move from your laptop to your phone and all your data is there!

      1. sabroni Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: and all your data is there!

        All your data? I don't think you quite understand how this works.....

        1. Craigness

          Re: and all your data is there!

          The data remains your own. They have a license to access it on their servers for the purpose of sending it to you, which some people misinterpret as ownership on the part of the cloud service.

  13. Steve Medway

    It's damn obvious what the intent is....

    Google killing Chrome OS? Nope, Google killing Android? Nope.

    Google replacing the underpinnings of Android with Chrome OS so they share a common OS platform and kernel, yup highly likely (lets face it both already run a linux kernel and GNU code so its not that big a change).

    Technically Android isn't an OS, It's a runtime environment on top of an OS. It's more akin to Flash running on Windows except it's really ripped off Java running on Linux (simplistically put, but close enough to get the point across).

    The story should have read as Android is being merged into ChromeOS.... Hasn't anyone commenting on this story heard of ARC (Android Runtime for Chrome)?

    In essence this is Google play at a converged OS in the same way as Windows 10 & Ubuntu Mobile imho

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow apologists/deniers are out in force

    That statement from Google pretty much confirms that Chrome is dead. They are committing to continue to provide updates to existing Chrome users, it says no more than that. That's pretty much a non-denial denial if I ever read one.

    Now whether abandoning Chrome and adding its features into Android counts as "continuing" Chrome in your mind is another matter, but those who suggested that Google would dump Android and fold it into Chrome because of superior security record don't understand how business works. Android has a billion+ installed base, Chrome has maybe a couple tens of millions. If they had to choose, it was always obvious which one they'd choose, even if Chrome has a much better underlying architecture security wise.

    If there's any large change in Android between versions it just gives an opening to something like Tizen to come along and steal away OEMs who don't like Google's increasing control in every new version of Android. They want something they can load up with crapware, and Google wants to make that harder because that's what has led to the massive fragmentation problem with Android.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wow apologists/deniers are out in force

      Embrace, extend, extinguish.

      Wow it is so obvious.

      HaHa!

    2. Craigness

      Re: Wow apologists/deniers are out in force

      They have stated "there's no plan to phase out Chrome OS". That's more than updating current devices.

      The install base of android is irrelevant. If they create a single OS for laptops and phones which can run Android apps then they can roll it out to the android install base on new devices or as upgrades. This is basically what they did between Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich. They already have an android runtime for Chrome, so it's a fair bet that this could be on the cards.

      OEM apps are not related to fragmentations, OEM skins are. They can preload their own stuff onto a non-skinned Google Android phone and have zero fragmentation issues.

  15. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    It's a sad state of affairs...

    ...when Google have to defend against rumours of a "service" being pulled, possibly at short notice. It's not as if they don't have form here so it's only natural that people will believe the worst

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