Chrome/OS Overview Updated July 29, 2016


Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, Google Chrome is the most widely used desktop browser in the world. Since its launch in 2008, Chrome has expanded to Android, iOS, and is the basis of a cloud-based operating system.


Chrome was developed out of frustration at the state of browsers that limited Google’s increasingly complex web apps. In creating its own browser, Google could push the state of the web and build the best experience for its products.

Launched in September for Microsoft Windows, Chrome quickly gained 1% of the total desktop market share by the end of the year. A developer preview in 2009 brought Chrome to Mac OS X and Linux, but a stable version was not available until May 2010. In November 2011, Chrome overtook Firefox in worldwide usage and in September 2012 became the most widely used web browser beating Internet Explorer.

In July 2009, Google announced a project to build an operating system that stored applications and user data in the cloud. The thin client OS was publicly demoed in November, but it was not until 2011 that the first Chromebooks shipped from OEM partners.

A beta version of Google Chrome for Android launched in February 2012, with a stable version ready by June. Google also released an iOS version, but it is limited technically due to security restrictions enforced by Apple.

Features |

Chrome shares many of the same features and underlying technology across all platforms. The browser and OS maintain version number parity across all platforms. Every six weeks a major version is released to the Stable Channel and a new developer version is introduced in the Canary Channel. A Beta Channel acts as an intermediary way to access new features without too many bugs.


The automatic Chrome update system downloads updates in the background and insures that users are always on the latest version of Chrome. There are many minor patches between between major updates that delivers security fixes and keeps users secure. Chrome maintains a Safe Browsing blacklist of malicious sites that pop up a bright red warning so users can turn back.

Tabs are sandboxed to make sure processes cannot interacting with critical memory functions and other processes. Besides for security, a multi-process architecture gives each site and plug-in a separate process. As such, a crash will only take down that tab and not the entire application.

Since the first version, Chrome has had a private browsing feature. Incognito mode prevents the browser from storing cookies or history and can be opened alongside regular tabs.


The main Chrome interface has remained mostly the same over the years. In fact, the ‘Chrome’ name refers to the lack of UI elements and a focus on the browsing experience. An Omnibox acts as both the URL bar and search box. At the time, many browsers had two separate fields right next to each other. The Omnibox has prediction capabilities to help users find what they are looking for and is also present on the mobile apps.

Android apps

Later this year, Android apps and the Play Store will arrive on Chrome OS. Google previously experimented using ARC Welder to virtualize the Android run time and allowed apps to run on all platforms, including Mac, Windows, and Linux. The latest approach is limited to Chrome OS, but provides a much more native and fast experience. Apps open up as windows and can become phone or tablet-sized. Touchscreen Chromebooks will provide the best experience.

654 Chrome/OS stories

May 2011 - July 2016

Chrome/OS Stories Today

GOOG: 775.12

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As a Chrome OS user for the past two and a half years, I have rarely felt love for the hardware that runs my operating system of choice. I’ve come to view every Chromebook as a utilitarian thin client that has a good enough keyboard, processor, and screen.

In using the HP Chromebook 13 for the past week, however, my computing experience has been thoroughly improved and that speaks to an unaddressed higher-end segment of the market that’s waiting to grow in the realm of Chrome OS laptops.

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Chrome/OS Stories Yesterday

GOOG: 745.91

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Whether its at a hotel, a coffee shop, or even a friend’s house, one thing we tend to do at a new place is check the internet speeds, especially if they seem slow. It’s always nice to know what you’re dealing with when trying to get stuff done and the most reliable place to do so has always been Ookla’s That site has always been a go to spot for a quick and accurate speed test, but now Ookla has released a Chrome extension to make things even easier.

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Last week Chrome 52 began rolling out and introduced Material Design on Mac. And for Chrome OS, the new version rolling out now introduces a number of updates mainly for enterprises that deploy Chromebooks. Namely, the Admin console can now display the location of Chrome OS devices and allows for more types of log-in.

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Chrome/OS Stories July 27

GOOG: 741.77

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Following the arrival of Android apps on Chrome OS, new Chromebook models should be coming soon. Among those is a reported addition to Acer’s R lineup with the 13.3-inch Acer R13. While there’s not too much new about this Chromebook, it will reportedly be the first Chrome OS device powered by a chipset from MediaTek.

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Chrome/OS Stories July 20

GOOG: 741.19

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Update: Announced in version 50 of Chrome OS, Material Design is now enabled by default on Mac with this latest update. Those who have pointed out how “un-Maclike” it looks can switch back to the older Non-Material design by going to Chrome flags here.

Chrome 52 is rolling out now to Mac, Windows, and Linux. The latest version of the Google browser contains the usual bug and security fixes, but notably removes the ability to use “backspace” as a return shortcut. It also adds several developer features to improve browser performance.

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Chrome/OS Stories July 14

GOOG: 720.95

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I have been using a Chromebook as my sole computer for the past two and a half years. Never in that time have I felt the need to switch to another desktop operating system. Frankly, Chrome OS can accomplish pretty much everything I need to do — from heavy writing, to presentations, to photo editing. The “thin client” has become a reality for me with Chrome OS and it perfectly suits my needs.

At this year’s I/O, though, Google announced that Android apps would be coming to Chrome OS. From a conceptual level, the added functionality is powerful, but admittedly erodes the simplicity of Chrome OS. The actual implementation makes it obvious that Google just grafted a full version of Android to Chromebooks and it shows in usage. Despite this, I can already see how well-designed Android apps provide a better experience than their web counterparts and can be neatly integrated into my daily workflow…

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