The Google exec running both Android and Chrome has tried to pour cold water on the story that Mountain View is merging its mobile platforms.
Hiroshi Lockheimer, senior vice president of Android, Chrome OS and Chromecast, has tweeted:
There’s a ton of momentum for Chromebooks and we are very committed to Chrome OS. I just bought two for my kids for schoolwork!— Hiroshi Lockheimer (@lockheimer) October 30, 2015
It was Lockheimer’s engineers who the Wall Street Journal reported are merging the mobile duo, with software to be demonstrated by the end of 2016. The decision was greeted with horror by many in the security world.
ChromeOS is a stripped-down Gentoo-derived GNU/Linux operating system built using Chromium OS. At its simplest, it’s a browser as operating system.
The operating system ships with Google’s Chromebook and has proved both stable and secure, albeit requiring a little brain re-orientation to get into. Also, because of its architecture, it’s required that ISVs such as Adobe develop versions of their apps especially for the operating system. Android runs a stripped-down Linux kernel.
Android and ChromeOS are poles apart on security, with the former a target of malware writers, the latter less so.
There’s a huge gap between the pair commercially, too: in a short time Android has gone on to run most of the world’s smartphones and a growing number of tablets. Chromebooks running ChromeOS have been a slow burner. They’ve been caught out by the move to tablets and the rather different desktop paradigm that they introduce. To that end, they’ve found a use mostly in education – a big market but not a mainstream PC market.
In a testament to the relative weakness of Chromebooks, Microsoft was panicked into releasing Windows 8.1 with Bing for low-priced devices in 2014 and began giving copies of the operating system away for free to manufacturers.
But Chromebook threat failed to materialise and a relieved Kevin Turner, Microsoft chief operating officer, said the free experiment would not continue with Windows 10.
Of course, the free experiment did not end entirely, with free downloads being available for a year after launch, but this was motivated more by a desire to kick everybody off the install base of Windows 7 and 8.1 than by a fear of ChromeOS. ®