A coming revision to Chrome OS will enable Windows-compatible network browsing by default. This means that Chromebooks will be able to connect with Windows PCs just as easily as other Windows PCs do today.
“Network File Shares (such as Samba) are now enabled by default in Chrome OS Canary,” Google’s François Beaufort explains on Google+, and referring to a pre-release version of the system. “This means you can browse another machine folder quite easily once it’s set up.”
If I’m reading the Chromium link that Mr. Beaufort links to correctly, most people will see this functionality appear in Chrome OS version 70, which is set for October 23.
The reason this is important is that it represents another small step by Google to overcome the blockers and pain points that customers may have as they adopt Chromebooks. In some cases, people are replacing a Windows PC with a Chromebook. But it’s probable that even more people are augmenting aging Windows PCs with a new Chromebook. Many of these will wish to access files across their home networks.
Chromebooks and other Chrome OS-based PCs have been able to connect to file shares on Windows PCs and other SMB-based devices (like NASs) using a technology called Samba for years. (This is true of Linux PCs too.) Today, however, that process is a bit manual: You need to add support for this technology via a File System for Windows service plug-in that Google makes available through its Chrome Web Store. And then you need to keep reconnecting to shares since it will drop the connection over time.
With this change, Samba/SMB support will effectively be native to Chrome OS. But I’m curious if this change will make the experience more seamless with regards to reconnecting to a previously-connected share.