Pixelbook on fluffy
Pixelbook

Chrome OS is becoming quite the contender in the laptop and 2-in-1 arena. Although it may not be as full-featured as a Windows or Mac, it’s operating system is seriously trim. But unfortunately, one feature that’s missing is Chromebook’s version of virtual desktops.

It’s two older brothers, Microsoft Windows and Apple’s macOS, have had virtual desktops for ages. macOS had its first stable version (named “Spaces”) released in August of 2009. Microsoft released its virtual desktop counterpart (called “Task View”) with Windows 10 around July of 2015.

And now, it’s Chrome OS’s turn. At Google I/O’19, in the Building Apps for the Chrome OS Ecosystem talk (around the 8 minute mark), Stefan Kuhne gives us a date: Chrome OS 76. This is exciting news – it’s one of the polished pieces of an operating system that just seems essential. Especially given the fact that most of the Chromebooks in the wild are of the smaller variety. It’s a brief moment, but it’s what we’ve been waiting to hear.

Chromebook Virtual Desktop – History

If you want to get technical, it’s called Virtual Desks according to the commit log. But who cares, we’re just glad it’s coming!

Back in November, Android Police talked with the senior product manager for Chrome OS, Kan Liu. While no dates were specified, he did confirm it was on the roadmap.

Then, in February of 2019, this video dropped demoing some of the Chromebook virtual desktop goodness. You can tell it’s still very early, as the New Desk button doesn’t work.

Afterwards, this video surfaced showing more progress. The New Desk button works! It looks like it could limit us to 4 “Virtual Desks” – which makes perfect sense. Built to be fast, Chrome OS runs on low-power, low resource machines – it’s optimized as hell. And Google wants to keep it that way. Therefore, limiting us to 4 virtual desks helps keeps system resource usage in check.

Conclusion

It’s high time Google recognizes that Chrome OS and Chromebooks are ready for prime-time. I’ve grown tired of lugging around my “desktop replacement” laptop – it’s awkward, heavy, and runs hot. The Chromebook virtual desktop feature will be what drives me to leave the old laptop at home in favor of my lightweight Chrome. And that’s exactly what Google wants.

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