Chrome/OS Overview Updated October 21, 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.

694 Chrome/OS stories

May 2011 - October 2016

Chrome/OS Stories October 21

GOOG: 799.37

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Chrome/OS Stories October 19

GOOG: 801.56

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Chrome/OS Stories October 18

GOOG: 795.26

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Chrome/OS Stories October 14

GOOG: 778.53

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Well, this one certainly came out of nowhere. Thanks to the eagle-eyed team at ChromeUnboxed, we’ve just got our first early look at a new Chromebook, the Samsung Chromebook Pro, before its official announcement.

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Chrome/OS Stories October 12

GOOG: 786.14

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Chrome 54 is rolling out now to Mac, Windows, and Linux with the usual bug and security fixes for the browser. However, the bulk of new features this version are coming to Android with a way to download content for offline viewing and article suggestions on the ‘New Tab’ page.

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Chrome/OS Stories October 6

GOOG: 776.86

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The addition of Android apps to Chrome OS is a big deal, but sadly it’s also taking a while for Google to push that functionality to all models. So far only three Chromebooks can officially run Android apps, and while more are on the way, there are still plenty of Chromebook users who will be waiting for quite a while.

Luckily, there’s a trick to get early access. Thanks to some savvy Chromebook users over on Google+ (via Chrome Story) we’ve been able to find a way to install the Play Store on any current Chromebook which will at some point officially support Android apps. Please do note that this won’t work with many older models. If your Chromebook is listed here, odds are this will work.

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