Technology

It looks like Google is readying the Pixelbook to run Windows 10

Enlarge / The 12.3-inch QHD display is equipped with large glasses for a better take in tablet mode.

Valentina Palladino

Google's Pixelbook is a beautifully constructed material but its use of Chrome OS means that for many people it will be too limited to be useful. Although Chrome OS no longer relies entirely on web applications, it can also be used to run Android applications and support for Linux applications is also under development: the lack of Windows support means that traditional desktop applications are unusable.

But this may change due to indications that Google is adding Windows support to its hardware. Earlier this year changes to the firmware of the Pixelbook indicated that Google was working on a mode called AltOS that would switch between Chrome OS and an alternative operating system, in a dual-boot configuration. Some candidates for this alternative operating system are Google's Fuchsia and, of course, Windows.

Recent changes suggest that it is Windows that Google is aiming for. The firmware of the Pixelbook is being updated to resolve issues detected in Microsoft's hardware compatibility tests. The changes refer to the Windows Hardware Certification Kit (WHCK) and the Windows Hardware Kit (HLK). The HLK is the Microsoft test framework that validates all driver and firmware behaviors to ensure that the hardware is compatible with Windows 10. The WHCK is the set of tests that corresponds to Windows 8.1.

Resolving HLK issues does not only mean that the Windows compatibility of the Pixelbook is improving, but it also opens the door for Google to have Microsoft-certified hardware compatible with the Windows®-based systems. operation of Redmond. Of course, the firmware is not the only part of this equation; Google should also make sure that there is an appropriate set of drivers to accompany it. And there's no guarantee that Google will actually ship this firmware: currently, most of AltOS's work is done in its own separate branch, and it's possible that it's never merged in the main branch of the firmware.

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