Just last week, Google made a rather bold and forceful stand that would be echoed by other software developers in the industry. It said that it would put Chrome and Chrome OS releases on hold during the COVID-19 crisis, a move that Microsoft would follow both for the Chrome-based Edge and even Windows 10 to some extent. In another surprising move, however, Google is now announcing that releases will be pushing through though with a few changes along the way.
Google’s primary reason for pausing Chrome releases is to ensure that users will have the latest proven stable Chrome release, currently version 80. Chrome updates happen in the background so most users are likely unaware of what version they’re on, much less that the browser is actually being updated. At a time when the Web has become even more critical for information, communication, work, and even entertainment, the last thing users need is a browser that suddenly breaks or becomes vulnerable to hacking.
It then comes as a surprise that Google is suddenly unpausing its releases. It will, however, adjust the schedule to make up for the delays. Version 81, which was supposed to roll out this week, will take another two weeks to bake in Beta. Version 82 is completely scrapped and Version 83 will be released in mid-May.
In the meantime, version 80 will continue to receive security patches and critical bug fixes in the two weeks leading up to April 7’s version 81 release. It’s uncertain what prompted Google to suddenly change course, perhaps for certain business considerations or at the urging of business partners.
Hopefully, this won’t turn into a mess, though Google has admittedly handled its rolling releases better than some other major software developer. It promises to closely monitor the situation and to keep Chrome and Chrome OS stable during this critical period.