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Google reportedly merging Chrome OS with Android

Google is working to combine its two operating systems by 2017, according to a new report.

At present, Google has two distinct operating systems: Chrome OS for low-powered laptops, and Android for smartphones, tablets, and TVs.

Those two operating systems will be one within two years, according to The Wall Street Journal. This has since been confirmed by other media outlets.

Sources claim that Google engineers have been working on merging the two platforms for the past two years now. What’s more, they are said to have made progress of late. While the new combined OS won’t be finished until 2017, Google will apparently show off an early version next year.

One of the reasons for merging these two platforms, it seems, is the disparity in market penetration. Android is the most popular operating system of any kind in the world, powering some one billion smartphones and other devices. Chrome OS, by contrast, accounts for less than three percent of the PC market.

The report claims that Google no longer sees the different approaches of Android and Chrome as relevant. It has also decided that it wants to put Android on as many devices as possible, so adding laptops to the mix seems logical.

This would also help attract developers keen to write one app for multiple form factors – which is also what Microsoft is aiming for from the other end of the spectrum with Windows 10.

The new hybrid version of Android would potentially give laptop users instant access to more than a million apps straight off the bat, thanks to access to the Google Play Store.

The report cites a recent quote from Google CEO Sundar Pichai as evidence of Google’s thinking here. “mobile as a computing paradigm is eventually going to blend with what we think of as desktop today,” he told analysts last week.

Related: Toshiba Chromebook 2 review

In particular response to these latest claims, however, Android and Chrome OS boss Hiroshi Lockheimer has pledged the company’s continued support for Chrome OS. “There’s a ton of momentum for Chromebooks and we are very committed to Chrome OS. I just bought two for my kids for schoolwork!” he tweeted.

The WSJ report claims that Chrome OS will continue as an open source platform that other companies can continue to use on their laptops, and that Google engineers will continue to maintain it.

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