Google says it has no plans to kill Chrome OS and replace it with Google Android.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Google was planning to merge the two operating systems in the future, but Google’s senior vice president of Chrome OS and Android says that while the company continues to work to “bring together the best of both operating systems” there’s “no plan to phase out Chrome OS.”

chromebook pixel 2015

Interestingly, the rest of Hiroshi Lockheimer’s blog post on the topic doesn’t really talk about that “bring together the best” part. Instead, he highlights the successes of Chrome OS:

  • More than 2 million teachers and students are using Share to Classroom to use Chrome OS devices in class settings
  • 30,000 new Chromebooks are activated in US classrooms every day
  • A growing number of businesses (including Netflix and Starbucks) are said to be using Chromebooks as well.
  • Chromebooks regularly top Amazon’s laptop best-seller list

Oh yeah, he also let slip one piece of previously unannounced news: the Asus Chromebit is finally launching. The tiny Chrome OS PC-on-a-stick will be available within a few weeks for $85.

chromebit_03

So Chrome OS isn’t dead, Google says we can expected dozens of new Chromebook models in 2016, and the company continues to roll out software updates every 6 weeks.

Here’s the thing though: none of this quite means that the Wall Street Journal report was entirely wrong. The report made it sound like Chrome OS and Android as we know them today would cease to exist and instead become a single operating system that runs across phones, tablets, desktops, and notebooks. But it’s possible to read the article another way: Chrome will continue to pick up more features from Android while Android will get some Chrome-like features.

Lockheimer doesn’t really address that possibility, but you can already run some Android apps on Chromebooks, and there are tools that make it easy for Android app developers to bring their software to the Google Play Store. So the number of apps that you can download and run on Chromebooks continues to grow… which sort of makes Chrome OS a little more like Android,

As for the Android, maybe we’ll start to see Chrome OS-style features including support for viewing multiple apps at once in windows. There’s already experimental support for a multi-window mode in Android 6.0. And maybe we’ll eventually get support for third-party extensions in the Chrome browser for Android, which could make the Android web browser feel a lot like the web browser that forms the foundation of Chrome OS.

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15 replies on “Google says Chrome OS isn’t going anywhere”

  1. ASUS Chromebit $85 vs ASUS VivoStick $129

    Which would you choose? Apples to Oranges comparison?

    1. What are the top two or three things that you would do with your stick? If most of what you’re doing is cloud based (streaming media, cloud office suites, chat with family/friends, social media, general web surfing), the Chromebit is a great option. If you have a dedicated need for Windows programs (games, specific design programs), you’ll want the Windows stick. You should also think peripherals – if you need to connect a camera or a printer, the Windows stick is the better option. Also depends how many users you’re going to have and what they’ll be doing.

      I just went through a similar choice in getting an AIO for the family living room computer. Ended up choosing the LG Chromebase over any Windows model. And so far, my daughter has used it every single day – she has a Gmail account through her school, and actually gets to work on her TAG documents (and all kinds of story writing) on Google Drive. The only bad part is having to print to the downstairs family room, but it’s not a huge deal.

      1. What is GMail like on Chrome OS? If it’s just the same web client as going to gmail.com in any web browser, I really would dislike that.

    2. Already got a Zotac mini pc by the TV that sees regular use and runs smoothly, and would recommend something like that over any stick. But, might be nice to have a Chromebit as low maintenance TV computer #2; as always, would be great to get family to start using an operating system other than PITA Windows.

  2. If Google doesn’t launch a new Nexus Player by the holidays then one of those Chromebits might end up being my new streaming solution for the TV.

  3. No question Google is interested in merging aspects of the two. The notion the WSJournal put forth, that ChromeOS would be killed and folded into Android is preposterous.

    1. Not preposterous at all. Microsoft is gradually killing Windows Phone, an unpopular OS, by giving Windows, their most popular OS, a touch interface. If Google emulated that, they’d give Android a ChromeOS style desktop. That, of course, would be ChromeOS in name only, but assuming people could still buy cheap laptops called Chromebooks, the average person, who isn’t particularly security conscious, would probably consider the end result an improvement.

      1. The strengths of ChromeOS rely on Google controlling the hardware choices.
        The widespread use of Android relies on companies being able to run it on whatever hardware they’d like.
        While some general consumer might not understand that, Google certainly does. And so do its enterprise customers in business and education. And – one would hope – journalists who make a living covering technology should also understand it.
        Further, merging them into one single product isn’t necessary to make either better.
        Add it all up and you arrive at it being preposterous.

        1. Beta was superior, but VHS won. The QWERTY keyboard was inferior, but it won. Marketing and money usually trumps superior tech. Also, FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt). Google’s going to do whatever gives it greatest market share and money, not what tech fans want. Microsoft has merged mobile and desktop, so it’s to be expected that Google would be tempted to meet the technically illiterate public’s OS expectations. The techno illiterate are everybody’s best mark I mean customer. Nobody ever went broke underestimating the stupidity of the American public, of the rest of the world’s, for that matter. But overestimating the intelligence of people is a great way to go broke. Offering a superior product and expecting it to succeed on its own merits is a classic way to go broke.

          1. I take your point but you are also citing a couple examples of inferior products winning and building it into a quasi-law. Inferior products do not always win. It’s just that being superior is no guarantee of winning.
            And I don’t think Google is going to give up so much just because of Microsoft’s convergence strategy – which has yet to show any success in working. Early days.
            Microsoft is banking on all this work leading to a huge uptake of Metro Apps (or whatever they call them now) – thereby getting past the chicken and egg problem of ecosystem on mobile. Trying to catch Apple and Google. That’s not a problem Google needs to solve.
            And finally ChromeOS does well enough with the public but the real target is enterprise. The selling point is the low cost of implementation. That relies on them controlling the hardware choices.
            Google can’t control and guarantee upgrades on a billion and one different hardware versions like Android has.
            It’s clear they see the value of it. Look at Android Wear and Android Auto. Wear especially would benefit in uptake if Google allowed free hardware choice ala general Android. But it’s taking the slower but more steady path of controlling it.
            And finally plus one – it isn’t a zero-sum-game. Google can make Android more desktop-able. And manufacturers can build and sell both ChromeOS and Android devices. The world won’t stop.

  4. His point is that they’re working towards mainlining Android into Linux. They still think there’s room for a thin desktop client OS (ChromeOS) and a smartphones OS running dalvik UI and apps(Android). However, with time they’re hoping to merge the development efforts under one team.

  5. The ChromeOS device design was excellent, but the OS and supported applications were limiting. I liked how I could expand the RAM and disk easily, but still have a small form factor. Putting Ubuntu on those devices solved the OS and application limitations for me.

  6. It was an unfortunate leak for Google. No matter what their future plans, they certainly didn’t want the notion that ChromeOS might be going away out there, I can imagine they got some pretty angry calls from Chromebook manufacturers, asking why they should invest another penny into the platform,

  7. Yay! Love Chrome OS. Hate Android. But to be fair, I hate all touch device OS’s. Maybe I’m ancient, but I want a keyboard. I want a mouse. I’m willing to use a better interface. But in my view a touch screen ain’t it. Maybe I’ll like mind control OS’s when they arrive.

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