For reasons unknown at this point, there is cause to believe that work on the long-dead effort to bring Windows dual-booting to Chrome OS has been brought back to life. Spotted by Chrome Story, there is clearly work being done on Project Campfire (Google’s internal naming for the dual boot setup that was never released to the public) on the ‘Eve’ baseboard – A.K.A the original Pixelbook.
Below, I’ll list the seven commits that have appeared since just yesterday and you can decide for yourself what they mean. From the looks of it, there is clearly work being done to add a few working hardware elements to the Windows-on-Chromebooks mix, but that’s not really what is interesting. Instead, it is more thought provoking to ask the question of why this is being done at all. After shutting down the entire project back in June of 2019, why is a new, fresh effort underway to do anything with Project Campfire?
Recent commits for Project Campfire
- Campfire: HID for Eve sensors Alt-OS mode
- ec_commands: EC in alternate OS mode constant
- common: Add i2c over LPC nuvoton protocol
- npcx: Add support for Alternate mode for Nuvoton
- eve: Add Alternate OS mode to eve
- common: Add config to include HID sensor code
- npcx: send vwire IRQ via PM channel module
That part is unclear for now. All these commits are by a single individual, so perhaps the entire thing is just a pet project or something that needs to get sorted out for the upcoming arrival of Windows apps on Chromebooks via Parallels. It doesn’t feel like that second theory holds much water, however, since the Parallels container is really responsible for software/hardware integration between the two separate operating systems. In much the same way, Android and Linux run on Chromebooks with no need of anything like this, so I’m not sure anything gleaned from a true dual boot setup would help Google in any way here.
So why, then? Why are we seeing Project Campfire get any attention? For now, we can’t say. We’re definitely keeping a keen eye on this again, however. I personally think the container method of delivering Windows apps on an as-needed basis via the Parallels container is 100% the right way to go for G Suite users that need just a couple Windows apps to make the move over to Chrome OS full-time. Having to go through a shut down and reboot every time you need a single Windows application frankly sounds clunky and terrible and not something Google would be too excited to be delivering. We’ll let you know when we learn more.