Google on Monday emphatically reiterated its commitment to its Chrome PC operating system in an attempt to squelch persistent rumors that the company plans to fold the OS into Android.
In a blog post, Hiroshi Lockheimer, senior vice president of Android, Chrome OS and Chromecast conceded that Google has been working on ways to meld the best elements of both operating systems. However, the company has no plans to discontinue Chrome as has been widely speculated, Lockheimer said.
In fact, Google has "plans to release even more features for Chrome OS, such as a new media player, a visual refresh based on Material Design user interface guidelines, improved performance and of course, a continued focus on security," he said.
Lockheimer added that Google remains committed to delivering Chrome software updates as it does currently on a six-week cycle. And, in 2016, Google and its partners will release dozens of new Chromebook laptop models, he said.
Speculation about Chrome's future surfaced in recent days following a report in The Wall Street Journal about Google planning to merge the operating system with Android. The report cited unnamed sources as saying that Google engineers had been working for two years to combine the two platforms.
The report cast the decision as being driven by Google's desire to put Android on as many devices as possible while eliminating the need for the company to maintain and manage separate operating systems for PCs and mobile devices.
Google also is betting that a unified Android for both PCs and mobile devices would help it attract more developer support while making its Google Play app store accessible to more users, the Journal report noted.
Google will continue to support the Chrome OS, but likely under a different name, according to the Journal. Other manufacturers would be able to continue using the operating system in their laptop products under open source. Google expects to have the new unified Android ready in 2017, but consumers should see early versions of it in 2016, the Journal reported.
Lockheimer’s blog post offered no details on Google’s ongoing effort to combine elements of Chrome and Android, nor did it offer any insight on the company's reasons for doing so. Instead it pointed to several new Chrome products that Google has slated for next year as evidence of the company's commitment to Chrome.
Since Chrome OS was launched six years go, the operating system has anchored Google’s plans to deliver simpler, faster computers for everyone, Lockheimer said.
Some 30,000 Chromebooks are introduced in U.S classrooms every single day, and companies like Starbucks and Netflix are using the technology because of how easy it is to deploy and integrate with other technologies, Lockheimer said.
Whatever the company’s plans for Chrome, Google certainly has a lot riding on the operating system. Gartner expects Chromebook shipments to reach 7.3 million units worldwide in 2015. Based on the technology’s performance in 2014, the education sector will again account for a major portion of Chromebook sales.
However, Gartner predicts that Chromebook will continue to struggle to win acceptance in the business sector despite growing interest from small and medium-sized businesses.