Google's plans to bring Windows dual-boot compatibility to at least one device operating on its Chrome operating system appear to have been brought to an end, based on a recently spotted change to the Chromium Gerrit. The changes center around "Alt OS," the codename given to the feature previously known as "Project Campfire."
More directly, Googlers have introduced new commits over recent days that begin removing not only the UI related to the dual-boot functionality — starting with interfaces to make picking either Chrome OS or Windows easy. They've also added a commit to 'deprecate Alt OS code'. That means the team is effectively preparing changes that will remove the code from the repository entirely.
Taken in combination, the alterations to the Chromium Gerrit seem to indicate that Google is halting all work on the project indefinitely.
Something to do with Chromium Edge?
The reasons Google might choose to remove Chrome OS code related to adding compatibility for its rival Windows are numerous. Past Chrome OS devices and all Chromebooks released after last week's Google I/O 2019 event have already supported Linux applications. That means that those who need to use 'full desktop apps' don't necessarily need a second operating system, to begin with.
Linux is becoming increasingly powerful too, with changes made to support audio, application development, and better file management with the most recent update to Chrome OS 74.
Android apps can already run on the platform as well and the fact that Android development via Android Studio on Chrome OS is now possible will help apps perform better on the platform since developers can easily test natively too.
Other shifts mean that apps should run better in the future such as the addition of a dedicated and complex Desktop mode in Android Q. Developers on the next generation of Android OS should be focused on making apps work better and use space with greater efficacy on larger screens, which should bode well for Chrome OS users.
Yet another factor in the projects death may actually stem from the introduction of Chromium's Blink Engine to the long-standing Windows-specific Chrome competitor, Microsoft Edge. That sets the stage for a more virulent competition between the two browsers and arguably for the operating systems.
The benefits of enabling the features now being deprecated would only apply to a small number of power-users operating on a fraction of the Chrome OS devices that are available. Allowing Windows to gain another foothold via Chrome OS — despite having only apparently been planned for the Google Pixelbook — could ultimately spell more trouble for Google than it would be worth.
A low-impact project death
Microsoft has, in support of its Chromium-based Edge browser, already put forward some of its best and brightest. Those developers have pledged to help to secure and improve Chromium itself at the same time. That's most likely been done in a bid to ensure that any issues in the Chromium code, outside of what's being used in Edge, don't seep over into Microsoft's browser. It will also serve to improve Chrome OS and other instances of Chrome.
As a result, the impact of removing the never-released dual-boot capability on Chrome is going to be minimal at best. As noted above, only a tiny percentage of users would have accessed the feature but Google also isn't exactly losing anything here.