Earlier today, Gabriel highlighted the packed feature update for Chrome OS that we knew would begin rolling out to users at some point in the next few days. For those unaware, Chrome OS and Chrome updates come out on a 6-week schedule and those release date targets are planned far in advance. As 2019 was wrapping up and we were moving into the early parts of 2020, the Chrome team was beginning to find themselves behind the curve with each consecutive update. Days – if not weeks – would pass as we waited on delayed updates left and right during that time and it simply felt like they couldn’t ever just get caught up.
As COVID-19 began to grip the US in March, however, the team decided to halt updates for just a bit as everyone figured out how to roll with the “new normal” that pandemic life presented. As that pause took effect, we lost Chrome and Chrome OS 82 altogether and jumped right to version 83. The regrouping effort seemed to realign things with the development schedule of both the browser and OS and, since that time, updates have been rolling out right on schedule. With Chrome 84, we saw a perfectly timed release last Tuesday and, just as advertised, we are now seeing the release of Chrome OS 84 exactly one week later.
This time around, however, the release feels more coordinated than ever. Yesterday, Google’s blog (The Keyword) posted about upcoming changes to expect in Chrome OS 84 and we also saw the official Chrome OS help forum get a detailed, pinned post that outlined all the updates we can all expect with this latest version of Chrome OS. These updates came perfectly aligned with the actual release today (rollout started around noon EST), giving off the vibe that Google is now in complete control of the Chrome and Chrome OS roadmap at this point in 2020.
To go from delayed releases with limited details and missing features just a few months ago to coordinated, timed releases like we are seeing today marks a worthwhile and notable upgrade to the entire development process for both the Chrome browser and for Chromebooks. Assuming Google can keep this momentum going, it feels like we’re on firmer ground than we’ve ever been with Chrome OS at this point. Instead of chasing its tail, it feels like Google has a clear plan and is now just sitting back and executing it. I’d expect this means many more update cycles like we’re seeing with Chrome OS 84, giving users lots of beneficial new features every six weeks while staying the course of timely, regular updates to the OS.
I’m a big fan of how this has shifted and I think the loads of new users to the Chrome OS platform will be comforted in the fact that Google feels far more focused with Chrome OS right now than it ever has. As we continue noting changes big and small on the way with future updates to Chrome OS, I’m excited to feel that Google has a plan and a focus that will deliver these new things to its users in a way that comes across as organized, stable, and thought out. It’s a change in direction that isn’t going unnoticed.