Wednesday 21 February 2018

Google’s Chrome OS Windows rival to launch in May?

A stable ‘channel’ for Google’s Chrome operating system is now available, with rumours suggesting a big announcement coming at the company’s May I/O Conference

Chrome OS builds on Google's Chrome web browser. Photo: Getty Images
Chrome OS builds on Google's Chrome web browser. Photo: Getty Images

Matt Warman

In a new step forward for the development of Google’s operating system, Chrome OS, a "stable" version of the software has been released.

Although Google has always been keen to emphasise that Chrome OS will be closely integrated with any hardware on which it is running, this new tag implies that it is theoretically ready to ship commercially.

Chrome OS builds on Google’s Chrome web browser and the fact that more features, from banking to photo-editing, are now available online and consequently do not need major desktop computing power.

As more programmes use web, such lightweight operating systems could challenge the dominance of Micorosft's Windows.

Google will host its annual I/O conference in May, and has previously announced that both Samsung and Acer are already working on Chrome OS hardware for sale. No official comment has been made on any potential announcements.

Currently Chrome is being tested on “experimental” laptops that are being distributed in America for free.

The CR-48 features a multitouch trackpad and a search button instead of a caps lock key, but is unbranded and not intended to give users a sense of what Chrome OS machines will look like in due course.

Writing on the Google Blog when the CR-48 launched, Linus Upson and Sundar Pichai wrote that "simply by logging in, all of your apps, bookmarks and other browser settings are there.

Setting up a new machine takes less than a minute. And even at this early stage, we feel there is no consumer or business operating system that is more secure."

A stable version of the software has not yet been released specifically for the CR-48, however. This could indicate that Google is focusing its efforts on new machines, or that the software’s readiness is still a work in progress.

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