Chrome OS & Windows Dual-Booting Comes Closer To Reality

Project Campfire long thought to be bringing a Windows dual-boot option to Google's Pixelbook has recently taken some substantial steps forward, according to a series of recent commits spotted by AboutChromebooks in the Chromium Gerrit. The changes remove quite a bit of the project's ambiguity during the testing process on 'Eve'  -- the codename been behind Google's Pixelbook -- and refer to more direct tests of the tool itself. Among those changes, the term 'alt os' has been swapped out for 'dual boot' in strings on the user-facing side, meaning that it will be the term Chromebook users are faced with in the UI. Further testing has been completed with regard to the storage-level separation between Windows and Chrome OS too, beginning with the testing of Alt OS disk partitions.

From there, the commits move to deepen that separation through changes in how Campfire handles Chrome OS's TPM, clearing out sensitive data stored in the module and disabling it when switching into Windows. Those latter tests cover a range of dual-booting scenarios, referencing boots from Windows to Chrome OS, Windows to Windows, and checking whether Chrome OS login information is preserved, with varying operating system 'suspensions' in between. The tests will ensure that Chrome OS and Microsoft's Windows environments are kept well apart with the stated goal of preserving security on the Chrome side of things.

Background: The concept of a dual-booting option for Chrome OS and Windows is by no means new. While Project Campfire appears to be picking up and the switching mechanism between the two operating systems seems to be undergoing some finishing touches, the latest changes build on additions added several months back. Initially, that was thought to be bringing support for both environments to a wide range of Chromebooks and Chrome OS hardware due to the inclusion of a reference to different 'variants' of Campfire. At that time, references to the project were also more open to interpretation since commits only vaguely pointed to 'alt os' and a partition of internal space equating to 30GB. That left around 10GB dedicated for Chrome OS according to the commits, equating to a 40GB minimum for Chromebooks with dual-boot enabled. Later changes suggested that only the Pixelbook and other devices built on the Eve platform would support Project Campfire -- indicated by comments suggesting that the dual-booting option would always be an "Eve-specific thing."

Impact: The collective above-mentioned changes could mean that Windows will be arriving at some point in the near future for Pixelbook owners and possibly for the new Google Pixel Slate Chrome OS tablet since that was also based on Eve. At a minimum, the team behind Project Campfire appears to be well into finalizing the method by which users will switch between the two. But there are still plenty of details that aren't provided via the commits themselves and which may still need to be worked out. One of the more obvious examples is how, exactly, users will download and install Windows to run it alongside Chrome OS. If the project is nearing completion that will probably have already been worked out and an announcement should be forthcoming to explain that. Otherwise, there may still be several steps that need to be completed to ensure the tool is actually usable outside of a heavily controlled test setting.


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About the Author

Daniel Golightly

Senior Staff Writer
Daniel has been writing for AndroidHeadlines since 2016. As a Senior Staff Writer for the site, Daniel specializes in reviewing a diverse range of technology products and covering topics related to Chrome OS and Chromebooks. Daniel holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering and has a background in Writing and Graphics Design that drives his passion for Android, Google products, the science behind the technology, and the direction it's heading. Contact him at [email protected]
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