Chrome OS: Yo dawg, I heard you like desktops so we put a workspace in your workspace

So you can work on something while you work on something


Google has added virtual desktops to its Chrome OS, used in Chromebooks, enabling users to create multiple workspaces and switch between them.

The virtual desktop feature is the biggest of several updates. Once the update is installed, a New Desk icon appears in the top right corner of the desktop. You can display virtual desktops full screen or side by side, and drag windows between desktops. These operations can be done with touch, mouse, trackpad or using keyboard shortcuts.

Virtual desktops have been available in Windows 10, macOS and Linux for some time so Google is catching up with these established operating systems.

Another new feature is the ability to right-click a phone number in Chrome and send it to an Android phone. This requires enabling sync between the Chrome browser on both devices.

A printer auto-detect feature means that compatible printers will automatically appear in a printer list without needing setup.

Google's Chrome OS has moved some distance from its original concept of a browser-based operating system when launched in 2011. The biggest changes were in 2016 when Android app support was added, and in 2018, when Linux application support appeared.

Chrome OS uses container technology to run Android and Linux in order to keep the operating system isolated and protected. With Microsoft taking a similar approach to running Win32 applications in Windows 10X, the gap between traditional PCs and Chromebooks is narrowing. You can even run some Windows applications on a Chromebook via the Wine compatibility layer.

Chromebooks have a small market versus traditional PCs. Chrome OS accounts for around 1.6 per cent of active operating systems, according to Statcounter, up from 1.2 per cent a year ago.

That said, Chromebook sales increased by double digits in the first quarter of 2019, according to Gartner, and the devices are particularly strong in education, where the combination of low price and a locked-down operating system is appealing. In early 2018 Google reported over 60 per cent market share in North America and over 30 per cent in the UK.

Less attractive is that a Chromebook is tightly bound to a Google login, raising concerns about privacy and data collection, and devices lose support automatically after a pre-defined period.

Still, with both Apple and Microsoft also increasingly insistent that you sign into their cloud accounts in order to use macOS or Windows 10, Google's approach is more absolute but, regrettably, no longer so distinctive. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • DuckDuckGo tries to explain why its browsers won't block Microsoft ad trackers
    Meanwhile, Tails 5.0 users told to stop what they're doing over Firefox flaw

    DuckDuckGo promises privacy to users of its Android, iOS browsers, and macOS browsers – yet it allows certain data to flow from third-party websites to Microsoft-owned services.

    Security researcher Zach Edwards recently conducted an audit of DuckDuckGo's mobile browsers and found that, contrary to expectations, they do not block Meta's Workplace domain, for example, from sending information to Microsoft's Bing and LinkedIn domains. Specifically, DuckDuckGo's software didn't stop Microsoft's trackers on the Workplace page from blabbing information about the user to Bing and LinkedIn for tailored advertising purposes. Other trackers, such as Google's, are blocked.

    "I tested the DuckDuckGo so-called private browser for both iOS and Android, yet neither version blocked data transfers to Microsoft's Linkedin + Bing ads while viewing Facebook's workplace[.]com homepage," Edwards explained in a Twitter thread.

    Continue reading
  • Despite 'key' partnership with AWS, Meta taps up Microsoft Azure for AI work
    Someone got Zuck'd

    Meta’s AI business unit set up shop in Microsoft Azure this week and announced a strategic partnership it says will advance PyTorch development on the public cloud.

    The deal [PDF] will see Mark Zuckerberg’s umbrella company deploy machine-learning workloads on thousands of Nvidia GPUs running in Azure. While a win for Microsoft, the partnership calls in to question just how strong Meta’s commitment to Amazon Web Services (AWS) really is.

    Back in those long-gone days of December, Meta named AWS as its “key long-term strategic cloud provider." As part of that, Meta promised that if it bought any companies that used AWS, it would continue to support their use of Amazon's cloud, rather than force them off into its own private datacenters. The pact also included a vow to expand Meta’s consumption of Amazon’s cloud-based compute, storage, database, and security services.

    Continue reading
  • Atos pushes out HPC cloud services based on Nimbix tech
    Moore's Law got you down? Throw everything at the problem! Quantum, AI, cloud...

    IT services biz Atos has introduced a suite of cloud-based high-performance computing (HPC) services, based around technology gained from its purchase of cloud provider Nimbix last year.

    The Nimbix Supercomputing Suite is described by Atos as a set of flexible and secure HPC solutions available as a service. It includes access to HPC, AI, and quantum computing resources, according to the services company.

    In addition to the existing Nimbix HPC products, the updated portfolio includes a new federated supercomputing-as-a-service platform and a dedicated bare-metal service based on Atos BullSequana supercomputer hardware.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022