Vanished. Poof. Gone. Just like that, the method for testing and trying out the new, split-from-ChromeOS version of Chrome that has been available for users to try on their Chromebooks is simply no more. From what we can tell at this point, the existing methods of enabling the Lacros browser on your Chromebook that have worked for months at this point are no longer valid.
And we’ve tried all the channels, too. From Stable all the way up to Developer (which is stuck on the same version of ChromeOS as the Beta Channel for the time being), the flags for enabling Lacros have been removed and there’s no simple way to get them back right now. There are definitely some more complex ways to enable flags that I’m not versed in; but for general users, the path to a detached Chrome browser on your Chromebook is no longer valid.
You won’t lose it via update
This is a nuanced development, however. If you had Lacros enabled before now, it will still be enabled. Even with the update to ChromeOS 120, you will retain the Lacros browser until you Powerwash your device. So, if you have Lacros and have started to rely on it, I’d stick to the Stable Channel for now and avoid a factory reset at all costs.
From what we can gather, the removal of these flags looks to be a server-side change. We have a Chromebook here in the office still on ChromeOS 118 and we know for certain that the flags needed for Lacros were there before. Now, looking at the flags on that device, we don’t have the ones needed to enable Lacros any longer, even though its not been updated.
Furthermore, Joe uses Lacros on a daily basis and took the plunge to update from ChromeOS 119 to ChromeOS 120 on the HP Dragonfly Pro; and even though the flags for enabling Lacros were gone both before and after the update, Lacros remained intact on his device. So it’s clear this is all happening on the server end of things and if you didn’t already have Lacros enabled before now, you may not be able to try it out at all for a while.
Could this mean we’re close to launch?
There’s a chance – not a sure thing – that this could be signaling an imminent arrival of the new Lacros browser on Chromebooks. Or perhaps at least the start of a proper, crowd-sourced Beta test that Google can control a bit more than they can with simple flags.
We’ve talked at length about the fact that Google has to absolutely nail the roll-out of this new browser and there’s little to no room for mistakes. And if they were getting closer to launch, pulling the flags on the server side would get them to a spot where they could begin collecting some clear and concise data for users who opt in to detach Chrome from ChromeOS a bit earlier.
But for right now, we simply don’t know what is going on. Once we hear something concrete, we’ll let everyone know. For now, however, if you’ve been waiting to enable Lacros and give it a try, it looks as if you’ll be waiting a while longer for that to happen. How long you’ll have to wait is the question, and as soon as we know something, you will too.