Chromebooks Will Soon Have Native Network Connectivity with Windows PCs

Posted on September 11, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Chrome OS, Chromebook with 20 Comments

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.

 

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Comments (20)

20 responses to “Chromebooks Will Soon Have Native Network Connectivity with Windows PCs”

  1. RamblingGeek

    Paul whats the best Chromebook to purchase ? less than £500?

    • sgbassett

      In reply to RamblingGeek: I realize you asked Paul, but if you can find the 2017 Samsung Chromebook Plus in stock at your local Office Depot, it is on sale for just $199.93. Unfortunately, all were gone from my local stores. It has the nice 3:2 screen ratio that you find on Surface devices. The 2018 version goes back to widescreen, which is a shame.


  2. digger4445

    I use my chromebook to logon remotely to my headless windows machines.

    I use Googles remote desktop support tool. I open tabs devoted to a windows 7 machine, a windows 10 machine and a mac mini and it is just like a i am on the machines. I just close the tabs when I am done.



  3. Chaoticwhizz

    I probably wouldn't use this on my chromebook but I can see it being useful to some people who do work on their chromebook.

  4. MikeGalos

    It's incredible that a device that's supposed to be network based wouldn't support SMB networks. And it's not like Samba hasn't been around for years and years longer than Chrome OS so it's not like the Google engineers had to actually invent something or reverse engineer a proprietary format.


    SMB networking has been around since the days of Windows for Workgroups and OS|2 in 1990 and Samba has been available since 1992.


    This was either just lazy or a management decision so they could keep their ecosystem closed and incompatible with public standards. I'm betting the latter.

    • curtisspendlove

      In reply to MikeGalos

      It's incredible that a device that's supposed to be network based wouldn't support SMB 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 plugin from the Chrome Store].


      Right there in the article, man. ;)

      • skane2600

        In reply to curtisspendlove:

        Not sure if the existence of a plugin really qualifies as support in the way it's typically understood.

        • curtisspendlove

          In reply to skane2600:

          Not sure if the existence of a plugin really qualifies as support in the way it's typically understood.


          So...it has to come on the installation CD to count then?


          It is a plug-in straight from Google.


          By that logic Windows doesn’t support much of anything, since almost everything you can do with Windows is some sort of a plugin or app or third party library.


          I think it was kinda silly that it was a plugin rather than part of the standard install...but the comment above reads as if it wasn’t an option at all.


          I’m also entertained by the thought that network file sharing is something the common purchaser of a Chromebook would likely do.


          If my sister called and said “I bought this fancy new Chromebook but sadly can’t get my old windows files on it” I’d tell her to copy all her crap from her Windows PC to GDrive and throw it out the window.


          Normal people don’t turn on two computers and try to get them to communicate anymore. (A possible exception might be turning it on and waving their phone around it for a while, hoping something magical will happen.)

    • MikeCerm

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      Chrome OS was designed so you could use Google's browser to access Google's services on the web, not so users could access local files stored on network-attached servers. They very intentionally didn't create a general-purpose Linux distro because they wanted something very lightweight with limited capabilities by design. Due to the lack of locally running applications, you won't be able to do a whole lot with network-attached storage other than play certain media file types, or upload those files to "the cloud."

    • Tony Barrett

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      SMB was inherently insecure, so Google were wise to wait. It's only recently that MS finally depreciated SMBv1! Sure, Chromebooks need to be able to talk to other devices, so this change is welcome, but it was never a top 5 requirement for ChromeOS and Windows to talk! Google made the right decision here.

  5. chrisrut

    Technological Convergence is a beautiful thing.

  6. dontbe evil

    wow that's amazing /s

  7. IanYates82

    Interesting... I'm a software dev so it's no good for me, but I think the Chromebooks are now at a point where I could recommend them to my customers (healthcare) to use instead of Windows PCs.

    Anyone know if they have a decent Remote Desktop Services (aka Terminal Services) client? That'd be the only remaining issue for a majority (albeit shrinking) of my customers.

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