Google Chrome OS Now Updated to Version 25

The latest Google Chrome OS build includes a host of new features and security updates.

Google's Chrome OS has been updated to Version 25 and released through the open-source project's "stable channel," making it available for users who want to run the latest stable version of the innovative and lightweight operating system.

The latest version, 25.0.1364.87, is for all Chrome OS devices, except for Samsung Chromebooks, according to a Feb. 20 post by Danielle Drew of the Chrome team, on the Google Chrome Releases Blog.

For Samsung Chromebooks, this same version is listed as a Beta Channel candidate, meaning it is still undergoing beta testing with those Chromebook devices to ensure compatibility. An email request by eWEEK to Google was not answered by late afternoon Feb. 21.

Machines running older versions of the Chrome OS will be automatically receiving the new version over the next few days, wrote Drew.

Among the new features, bug fixes and security improvements in Chrome OS Version 25 are:

  • An update to Version 11.6.602.169 of Adobe Flash.
  • The addition of an HTML5 Content Decryption Module (CDM) with WebM support.
  • Multiple monitors are now supported under Extended Desktop Mode.
  • The App Launcher now supports re-ordering.
  • Intelligent Window positioning is now a feature, which means that the OS will automatically arrange windows to show more windows at all times if users don't manually move them on their own.
  • Tap dragging is now a user preference.
  • Encrypted Media Extensions are enabled by default.
  • Modifications have been made to the system tray to display accessibility options for users.
  • Improved accessibility controls for users.
  • Numerous crash fixes and stability improvements.

One known issue still has not been resolved, but now has a work-around, according to Drew's post. When connecting to a WiFi captive portal, logging out and adding a new user will show the captive portal overlay but will never hide it. To fix that, users must log out and then log in again.

At least one Chrome OS user posted a comment about the update announcement, sharing his displeasure that the latest version isn't yet finalized for Chromebook users.

"Samsung Chromebooks still stuck on [Version] 23... thanks Google!" user Andrew Rabon wrote in his reply to the post.

Chrome OS releases to the stable channel have been tested and approved by the Chrome testing team and are the versions that are recommended for use by Chromebook customers. The ChromeOS releases are updated regularly by their open-source development teams—about every two to three weeks for minor releases and every six weeks for major releases.

The Chrome OS project has been around since July 2009 when Google announced they had begun work on a lighter, browser-based operating system that was aimed at small portable devices such as netbooks or notebook computers. The consumer version of the product is Chrome OS, while the open-source development project where it is built is called Chromium OS, according to Google.

Since its introduction, Chrome OS has taken on a lot of competition in the consumer marketplace from existing device operating systems, such as Microsoft's Windows and Apple's iOS on devices.

The first Chromebooks on the market, from vendors Samsung and Acer, were unveiled in May 2011 at Google's I/O Conference.

Google recently announced a developer competition to help increase the security of Chrome OS for users. The company is putting up $3.1 million in prize money to be paid out to smart developers who help find serious flaws in Chrome OS's code.

The prizes will be awarded in $110,000 and $150,000 increments to developers competing for the money in the latest Pwnium 3 competition March 7 at the CanSecWest security conference.

The competition will be held alongside Hewlett-Packard's Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) vulnerability-finding event, which, along with the annual Pwn2Own competition, will be held at CanSecWest from March 6-8 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The awards for winning entries will be paid out at $110,000 for browser- or system-level compromises in guest mode or as a logged-in user, delivered via a Web page, and $150,000 for compromises made through device persistence, such as a guest to guest with interim reboot, delivered via a Web page, according to the post.