Chrome OS started out pretty much as a glorified Chrome web browser turned operating system but it has shed that identity a long time ago. It has almost become the one OS that runs them all, supporting Android and Linux apps and, indirectly, Windows as well. One thing that hasn’t changed is that Chrome comes built into Chrome OS and is its default browser. That might soon be changing and Chrome OS will soon use LaCros as its default browser which is really just a different version of the Chrome browser anyway.
It might sound like a ridiculous thing to do since Chrome OS and Chrome share so much in common that it makes more sense to have the latter as the built-in and primary browser. Unfortunately, that’s only true to some extent and the current setup has one very critical disadvantage. On Chrome OS, Chrome browser updates are also tied to the OS updates so when Chrome OS is no longer updated, neither will Chrome.
That means that users will be vulnerable to security flaws and bugs on Chrome that users on other operating systems are protected against thanks to continuous browser updates. In order for Chrome OS users to remain safe, Google has to strip off Chrome from Chrome OS, strange as that may sound, and use a different primary browser. That said, it naturally would still need to be Chrome anyway.
That’s where LaCros comes in, which is supposedly short for “Linux And ChRome OS”. Simply put, it’s a version of Chrome for Linux that was modified for Chrome OS. A recent change in the Chrome OS source code spotted by Chrome Story now allows some users to switch to LaCros as their primary browser instead of the built-in Chrome. This is still hidden behind a settings flag and is only available to users on the Canary channel so it might take quite a while before it becomes available to the public.
As the site says, this change in the way Chrome browser is distributed on Chrome OS could be a game-changer for the platform. In addition to long-term updates, it could also allow multiple user profiles to be used in the browser without affecting Chrome OS.