Chrome OS 70 will include native support for SMB file shares (spotted by Paul Thurrott), giving it built-in access to files stored on Windows servers. With this, Chrome OS users can add SMB file shares to the Files app and use them to store and load documents.
Currently, using these network resources requires the use of an extension that adds a similar ability to add file shares to the Files app. Google has been working to make Files a more capable application. As well as integrating support for networked files, the company is also experimenting with giving it more access to Android files, something that will streamline the use of Android applications by exposing their data files to Chrome OS apps.
The SMB support helps smooth a pain point when mixing Chromebooks with other systems: it makes it easier to use Chrome OS with corporate file servers, home networked storage devices, and of course, Windows PCs. Instead of needing the extra extension to be installed, these things will just work out of the box. That’s going to prove helpful as Chromebooks move beyond their K12 education stronghold, as it will mean that Chromebooks more seamlessly interoperate with mixed platform networks. In particular, networked storage intended for Windows machines will be instantly accessible to Chrome OS machines.
The built-in support might also prove a bit more reliable than the extension. The reviews for the add-on are atrocious thus far, with many complaints of poor performance or outright failure to function entirely, especially when handling large files.