Chromebooks and other Chrome OS devices will soon be able to make use of Server Message Block (SMB) network file sharing protocol natively, based on a new Chromium Gerrit commit shared to Google Plus share by Googler François Beaufort. The commit notes that a hidden flag menu item is being set to default in order to bring the support natively in the Canary Channel and that Network File Shares will be made widely available in Chrome OS 70. For clarity, it has been possible to use SMB via a Chrome Web Store extension and with a hidden flag menu item for quite some time. However, those variations on the services were always very buggy and in some instances really only served to crash the File Manager.
With that said, the fact that it is still in the Canary Channel implies that most of the issues associated with it have been solved but that there's still testing to be done before it is ready for widespread use. Once it is, the functionality will not only support users connecting to the file server or printer they need for work or enterprise use cases without the hassle of dealing with extensions or downloading new Android applications. The protocol will be fully supported across popular SMB-based and more user-friendly network file system and print sharing services such as Samba. So it will effectively provide a way to join file systems across Windows, Linux, and other platforms, now including Chrome OS, for a huge variety of purposes.
In the meantime, getting the protocol set up for network files is fairly straightforward. Users simply need to navigate to the settings menu and find the "Network File Shares" sub-menu. Clicking "Add File Share" will bring up a window where information about the file share URL and login information can be put in. Once set up, the new file appears in the File Manager app. Conversely, they can also be added by navigating to the File Manager and scrolling the left partition down to "Add new services." SMB options should appear there in the Canary Channel, whereas the button previously only provided an option pointing to the Chrome Web Store.