Google Releases Chrome OS 67

Posted on June 11, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Chrome OS, Chromebook with 58 Comments

Following on the heels of Chrome 67 for desktop, Google has released Chrome OS 67, adding improved support for PWAs, new form factors, and more.

The steady pace of Chrome OS improvements collectively represents what I’ve said is a clear and present danger to Windows 10. As this platform gets more and more sophisticated, the reasons for ignoring it get, in turn, more and more obsolete. Those who still believe Chrome OS is a glorified online-only web browser are woefully out-of-date. And need a wake-up call.

With Chrome OS 67, Google is taking a giant leap forward into the future.

First, and most important in my view, you can now install Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) as stand-alone apps. As I’ve seen in Chrome 67 on Windows (after manually enabling various PWA-related flags in chrome://flags), this behavior varies a bit by app, which I suspect is related to their manifest file. But it works great overall already.

And here’s a real-world example of how this changes things. Now, when I click on a YouTube link, the YouTube PWA opens in its own window rather than in a tab or the current window. Thanks to PWA support, YouTube is now an app on both Windows and Chrome OS. (And, probably, on Mac and Linux too.)

Chrome OS 67 also supports new Chromebook form factors like tablets and detachables in a more sophisticated fashion. It provides a split screen mode for web and Android apps when used in tablet mode, detachable base swap detection, touch-friendly (and Android-like) power and quick settings interfaces, and more.

Here’s the (curiously incomplete) list of improvements that Google notes for this release.

  • Android Debug Bridge support over USB in developer mode
  • Progressive Web Apps can now be installed as stand-alone apps
  • Extend Chrome page zoom to Google Play Apps
  • Visual update for ext4 filesystem migration
  • Feedback reports on sign-in screen
  • Cleaner improved Bluetooth list
  • Touchable material 2.0 Chrome for tablet devices
  • Select-to-Speak ability to select specific text to be read aloud
  • Inline touchable folders in launcher
  • Split Screen support in Tablet mode
  • Support for zipping files on Drive via the Files app
  • Power menu shortcuts when holding the power button
  • Detachable base swap detection
  • Security fixes, including rolling out Site Isolation to a larger percentage of the stable population and Spectre variant 2 fixes for ARM devices on 4.4 kernels.


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Comments (65)

65 responses to “Google Releases Chrome OS 67”

  1. jrickel96

    With somewhere between 0.31% (NetMarketShare) and 1.22% (StatCounter) of the Desktop market, I'm sure it'll make a huge impact. ChromeOS has seen no significant usage growth over the past year. So there are somewhere between 5 and 22 million users globally.

    Linux is more popular for average desktop users. Why all this focus on ChromeOS and not Linux since Linux is a bigger deal and more successful than ChromeOS in all the metrics?

    The numbers indicate that ChromeOS might ONLY sell to schools and not much else.

    • James Wilson

      In reply to jrickel96:

      Maybe its because the story affects one of the three Microsoft strategic areas of focus for the consumer world; creatives, education and gamers; i.e. education?

    • yosemitesam

      In reply to jrickel96:
      Like the 1.37% share of the market that the Chrome Browser had back in 2009?

      • VancouverNinja

        In reply to yosemitesam:

        Chrome OS has had 7 years under 1% market share. It is one of the worst OSs possibly ever released as a major PC OS. DOA.

        • curtisspendlove

          In reply to VancouverNinja:

          Chrome OS has had 7 years under 1% market share. It is one of the worst OSs possibly ever released as a major PC OS. DOA.

          Which of these do you really believe?

          Chrome OS has existed, and been in the news and on sale for 7 years?

          Chrome OS is Dead on Arrival (DOA)

          I'm pretty sure it can’t be both at the same time.

          Note: I think the entire point of this article is that Google have been improving Chrome OS and pushing tech (such as PWA) ahead to the point where it might soon matter.

      • jrickel96

        In reply to yosemitesam:

        Not really since Chrome browser showed steady growth over time - strong growth too.

        Chrome OS marketshare for Desktop in May of 2016, 2017, and 2018 according to NetMarketShare:

        May 2016 - 0.33%

        May 2017 - 0.29%

        May 2018 - 0.31%

        So according to NetMarketShare, peak ChromeOS was two years ago then there was a fall and a gain back of 50% of the loss.

        Same years from StatCounter:

        May 2016 - 0.59%

        May 2017 - 0.82%

        May 2018 - 1.22%

        So one shows growth and the other shows stagnation. Which one is correct? Probably neither entirely. So let's split the difference and combine the two.

        May 2016 - 0.46%

        May 2017 - 0.51%

        May 2018 - 0.77%

        That means there are roughly 14 million ChromeOS users globally against about 1.5 Billion Windows users.

        Chrome was at 2.4% in May of 2009 for Browsers.

        Chrome was at 8.41% in May of 2010. That's nearly 400% growth in a single year.

        By May of 2011, Chrome was at 18.25%.

        The comparison to ChromeOS to Chrome is a terrible one because Chrome showed immediate large growth. ChromeOS has shown no such thing.

        It is very likely that if Apple and Microsoft can push ChromeOS out of most classrooms, ChromeOS will die altogether.

        And this also shows why all this attention to ChromeOS and Paul labeling it a clear and present danger is insane. Clear and present dangers have to make an impact with the general public. Chrome the browser DID. ChromeOS has been nothing but a failure.

  2. bluvg

    "And here’s a real-world example of how this changes things. Now, when I click on a YouTube link, the YouTube PWA opens in its own window rather than in a tab or the current window."

    For me, that's a terrifically unconvincing example. Opening something in its own window vs. the current window is a game-changer? Is there functionality here that I don't get in the browser? I get the idea, but this example describes no functional advantage beyond a superficial level.

  3. Ron McMahon

    It makes one wonder if Windows will simply fade away with a whimper...slowly, steadily made irrelevant by the relentless march of technological competitors. 

    I guess one shouldn't cry too hard for Windows given its 30 year reign as the dominant global desktop OS.

  4. Bats

    LOL..a few hours have past and I am still getting a kick out of this "clear and present" danger stuff, Paul Thurrott stated above. I have a question. Is there a mission involved regarding this clear and present danger? With the iconic Mission Impossible theme playing in the background, I am imagining Brad Samms in this generic looking van hidden behind some bushes in Mountainview behind a number of Surface Pros and Studios to which he is operating. Meanwhile Paul Thurrott is inside the vent in one of the Googleplexes, where he just above the room where the secret code of Chrome OS/browser is stored. Again, with the Mission Impossible theme playing in the background, I can see Paul lowering himself onto the room from the vent, in Tom Cruise-like fashion, trying to sabotage Chrome 67 for mission codename "Redmond." LOL..."clear and present danger."

    Like I said in the past, Microsoft needs to create a brand new OS designed with the easy and usability of Chrome/Android. Not just that, but they also have to create a viable ecosystem that people actually want to use for the betterment of their lives. This OS, has to be super easy to use like Android and Chrome and most imporantly it can't be called Windows.

    Like I said, and has been repeated below...Chrome OS is just a glorified web browser. Whether people opt to buy hardware that contains OS is up to them, but Chrome OS can be used in Windows via the browser.

    The truth of the matter is that PWAs is not going to rescue Windows. No one cares. If Microsoft thinks that this can save the OS or (foolishly) the Windows Store, then get ready for a huge disappointment. 

  5. dcdevito

    v68's getting system-wide voice dictation -

  6. hrlngrv

    Fascinating the difference between the workplace and the home.

    Windows is in little danger in the workplace, especially among those who get close to using half the features in one or even two Office programs. As in you'd need to pry Excel out of the cold, dead hands of most actuaries, Word ditto for lawyers.

    OTOH, for most home use, Windows may be becoming both gross overkill and unnecessary. On a tangent, DOSBox under Chrome OS works well enough to run a fair number of 16-bit games and all the other 16-bit software I've tried. More to the point, if 80% of one's home computing is web browsing, there's little need or benefit to Windows. The other 20% may be problematic, but there's a lot of very decent web apps these days.

  7. Stooks

    "Now, when I click on a YouTube link, the YouTube PWA opens in its own window rather than in a tab or the current window."

    OMG how amazing!!!!!

    So when watching the video in the wrapped web page, aka PWA, is it better in some way than just watching in a tab in Chrome??

    Paul I do hope PWA's take off just for your sake, because the hype you are trying to whip up....I am not feeling it.

  8. jblank46

    Agreed about ChromeOS. It has really grown into a sophisticated, elegant operating system. Microsoft has real problems on their hands because they're being attacked on so many fronts. The newer operating systems like iOS, Android and ChromeOS are just simpler, lighter and more elegant than Windows at this current point.

    And then there's Edge. I challenged myself to use Edge exclusively beginning in March. It crashes quite frequently for me, but I continue to use it because I found that it works well for pretty much all websites and applications I frequent. It is not lighter on memory than Chrome in my experience. I believe that is subjective, but I usually have a lot of js heavy web applications open and those most times are the culprit of runaway memory usage on both Edge and Chrome. In fact, I've found Edge using way more ram than I believe is necessary. The reason why Chrome is so good, is because it is on a rapid development cycle and Google keeps iterating. Microsoft simply cannot continue tying Edge to the Windows development cycle or else they will never catch up.

  9. v_2samg

    But can it run Crysis?

    Sorry bad joke. But couldn't help it.

    Any device running Chrome OS is good for my grandma or the majority of people who live on Facebook. However, for me it is just garbage. I'll probably take a look at it after 10 years when it may run my favourite AAA title or that hot photo editing app from a company whose name starts with A.

  10. nbplopes

    The problem I have with Chromebooks is that I still don't know what they are particularly good at.

    I understand that compared to Windows PCs they seam to be built towards hassle free computing. Compared to Macs they are cheaper. Compared to iPads they can be cheaper and support the mouse. That seams to be the main advantages overall.

    But when it comes to software, if one does not live in the Google world, what are they really good at? For Web centric computing all of them do the job very well. So why for office computing should one sacrifice the flexibility, say of Excel, and potentially face a user riot towards this? Or the impromptu creativity toolset enabled by the iPad for home computing for this?

    They don't seam to be betting much on the business market. But considering that much of the line of business apps are webified, these look like very good mobile enterprise terminals. Until, one needs Excel ... I guess. I wonder why they aren't having more success in this area.

    You see, PWA is orthogonal to the expansion of Chromebooks. It helps, but its not the core issue.

    And Google is already starting pursuing the path of their Web Apps not supporting well cross browser performance. Simple features such as putting a youtube video full screen no longer works in Safari/iOS for instance as well of being a resource hog on the PC. I remember a company trying that strategy to own the web ... people end up switching browsers. That is not what users expect from Google.

  11. aelaan

    Well, Google can note all the improvements they want, I have three Chromebooks (do not ask why) and their updates are tardy to say the least. Google touts they update the OS every 6 weeks, but generally on my Acer R11, Asus C302 and Asus C100PA I do not see these updates until week 8 or week 9 unless I run a beta operating system or even more stupidly fall for their dev channel because I want the newest operating system. I write "stupidly" because some of the features are there and the next update they are gone and so my use of these features like working on a UHD screen are painful. Yes as simple as a 27 inch screen in 3480x2160 mode looks like working on Windows 3.1 with VGA drivers. The pure lack of scaling options, without the fonts going all wonky and icons going all fuzzy, is just appalling to say the least. Bluetooth is indeed an atrocity, connecting a bluetooth headset or even a simple mouse will often cause the stack to fail during normal work, resulting in having to fiddle for minutes to turn the bluetooth off and on (have you turned it off and on?) and working with the touchpad that does not accelerate enough so the mouse cursor moves on a large screen are crap to say it in firm English.

    Yet the OS is fast enough for my daily work, I get all my work done, not always without big sighs of frustration. The lack of updates truly being available is one of them, really we get about 4 weeks with updates until the next announcement and the daily check of availability. The other promise of Google is Linux apps availability, while touted in a lot of forums there are major caveats, one if them is that the kernel must be at version 4.4 or higher. Well so far only their Pixelbook (flag ship) and one ARM based laptop (Samsung CB Plus) received this function. That is less than 2% of all Chromebooks out there, yet it is being hailed as the best thing since sliced bread. All the while over 50% of the chromebook owners wonder where the hell their Android support is as the play store is not available "yet" on their device (replace "yet" for it will never be available). Windows 10 on the other hand does not give a crap about the age of your device, it will happily install on a 5 year old laptop or a 10 year old desktop. It is not flawed by a cycle of five years, where some machines are not even available world wide after two years of announcements so in fact the machine only is covered for 3 years under Google's scheme of forcing hardware on people. No wonder these devices are so "cheap" I have to buy a new one when it is barely broken in.

    Yeah, it is not ALL roses on this side of the fence folks. While you might think it is a threat to Windows or MacOS, if you read the above and think that ChromeOS is just a teenager in the age of tech you are right. Google better get their act together, in my not so humble opinion, or it will be the operating system of one country.... Yeah, you heard that right, only the USA seems to be embraced by this operating system, the rest of the world... not so much. Try to purchase a Pixelbook in Germany, it is just as expensive as a Porsche or Audi S6.... All the while the USA is showered with discounts and availability galore.

  12. Chaoticwhizz

    While I still play PC games on my WIndows desktop, my next laptop will likely be a chromebook. Chromebooks do just about everything I would care to do on a laptop. About 80% of my IT work can be done on a CHromebook. THat number will only get higher as linux containers become more common. ALso, I want a more secure portable device that I can take just about anywhere. Windows still isn't very secure while still being able to do much with it.

    ALso, I loathe the idea of having to manage yet another WIndows device in my personal life. WHat will the next Windows Feature update break while STILL ignoring the things that I care about? I don't have to worry about that with a Chromebook. Google is actively working on adding features to Chromebooks that people actually care about. When was the last time you could say that about Windows?

  13. Michael Goff

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  15. dnation70

    chrome 68 beta

  16. Bats

    I have to admit. This post made me laugh. It was as if the situation with Chrome 67 and PWAs is comparable to the NoKo and nuclear weapons. 

    Chrome is a clear and present danger to Windows? I don't think so. PWAs, in general, represent THE clear and present danger to Windows. Neither Microsoft or Google control the web and the last time checked the "W" in PWA stands for web. A Windows machine is all about installing software and working offline. I know that PWAs have offline capability, but you still have to eventually go online. Also PWAs are platform agnostic. Any kind of electronic functionality, absent from Windows OS, is a clear and present danger to Microsoft.

    As for the Youtube PWA, I can do that now with my Windows PC via the Chrome browser. I don't see the big deal here. 

    I don't see how this moves the needle for Microsoft at all.

    People kinda/sorta use Chrome OS everyday. EVERY.DAY. It's called the Chrome browser. People don't actually need a laptop to run the full the Chrome OS experience. As long as they run the browser, a Windows PC can assimilate a Chromebook.  

    • DaddyBrownJr

      In reply to Bats:

      Except that by running Chrome on Windows you have to endure the pain and frustration of using Windows. After the last few years of broken/non-functional updates and exasperating performance issues, I'll never again buy a Windows machine for home use. Chrome OS is lean and unobtrusive, and lets the user get the job done without all the useless horse shit that comes with Windows.

    • Chris Hedlund

      In reply to Bats:

      Paul is right about this one. These things don't change over night, but one day computing online with PWAs or whatever it might be will be the norm... Windows will be irrelevant...

      • curtisspendlove

        In reply to Chris_Hedlund:

        Windows will be irrelevant...

        It will be, and it will happen sooner than most people think. There are already a swath of people who are perfectly fine using their phone for everyday consumer computing.

        For those that want a larger screen, tablets are quite good. For those that want a clamshell, a Chromebook is an obvious answer. Especially if they are already using Google / Android.

        Apple’s answer is “iPad”. (Yes, I know. *You* can’t do your work on an iPad. And neither can most people, but most people aren’t reading this website. And most people do work, at work, on a device purchased by their employer. They don’t need a “work” device at “home”.)

        Microsoft doesn’t have an answer. This is a problem for them.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to curtisspendlove:

          . . . And neither can most people [use anything other than Windows PCs] . . .

          Depends on the size of those people's employers. Most large commercial enterprises provide Citrix, VMWare or similar remote desktops. Anyone working for such an enterprise and allowed to use remote desktops could use any type of device with the appropriate connection app. I know I can do everything I need to do with a Chromebook and Citrix with the sole exception of one Excel add-in which uses an authentication procedure which disallows using server-based Excel. Less than 5% of my job, FWIW.

          • curtisspendlove

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            I know I can do everything I need to do with a Chromebook and Citrix with the sole exception of one Excel add-in which uses an authentication procedure which disallows using server-based Excel. Less than 5% of my job, FWIW.

            Honestly, this sounds horrible. As a programmer, if I were in your organization and aware of this, I’d be pushing to replace that with something more modern.

            I know that costs money, though, and for 5% of a job probably isn’t worth replacing yet.

  17. RobCannon

    What is the link for the YouTube PWA?

  18. PeteB

    Now release it for x86 so I can start replacing user-hostile Windows 10 on friends and family laptops.

    • VancouverNinja

      In reply to PeteB:

      Chrome OS is nasty agressive - it is Google and Google treats customer data like it belongs to them. Microsoft actually is the only house looking out for users today. Not to mention it is so simple to use now. I feel sorry for the few friends you have that trust you.

      • PeteB

        In reply to VancouverNinja:

        Anyone kool-aid free understands that if MS was "looking out for it's users" then telemetry would have an opt out, and there would be an opt out for the forced, featureless full reinstalls multiple times a year that reset all settings and programs back to MS defaults

        Let me know when that happens.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to PeteB:

          Semantic pickiness: no telemetry opt-out can still be consistent with MSFT looking out for its users, as in its poor ignorant users who just don't comprehend the benefits of that telemetry. OTOH, it is an indicator that MSFT doesn't take user privacy as fully as if could.

  19. dgloff

    Wonder if the entire OS will be as horrifically slow as the Chrome 67 browser. We're actively rolling people back to 66 and disabling automatic updates because of the massive drop in productivity people are experiencing on 67. But even then some curious folks still go to Help-->About and hose themselves all over again.

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