For the past few years, a new Chrome release has occurred every six weeks, with changes coming to Chrome OS shortly afterward. However, the ongoing coronavirus outbreak has caused many companies to delay or scale back product releases, and it seems Chrome is no exception.
Google today announced on the Chrome Releases blog that future browser updates are on hold, but security patches will continue to roll out as minor updates to Chrome 80. "Due to adjusted work schedules at this time, we are pausing upcoming Chrome and Chrome OS releases. Our primary objectives are to ensure they continue to be stable, secure, and work reliably for anyone who depends on them. We’ll continue to prioritize any updates related to security, which will be included in Chrome 80."
This marks the first time in several years that the browser will miss its usual six-week release schedule, besides the occasional delay of a few days. Chrome 81 was originally set to arrive on March 17th (the beta arrived last month), with Chrome OS 81 arriving on March 24th.
Jason Kersey, director of Chrome's release management at Google, revealed today that Google will skip the stable releases of Chrome 81 and 82 entirely. The Beta Channel will remain on V81, but it will be updated straight to V83 once the update is ready.
As we adapt our future milestone schedules to the current change in schedule, we have decided to skip the M82 release to ensure we keep users safe and focus all efforts on maintaining stability. [...] Once M81 is cleared to release to Stable, we expect to adjust our future milestone schedules, including possibility shifting M83 forward to target an earlier branch and Stable date.
Simply put, the stable branch of Chrome will jump straight from V80 to V83.
That didn't last too long. A new post on the Chrome Releases blog states that the various branches of Chrome are now resuming updates, and V81 will actually make it to the stable branch:
M83 will be released three weeks earlier than previously planned and will include all M82 work as we cancelled the M82 release (all channels).
Our Canary, Dev and Beta channels have or will resume this week, with M83 moving to Dev, and M81 continuing in Beta.
Our Stable channel will resume release next week with security and critical fixes in M80, followed by the release of M81 the week of April 7, and M83 ~mid-May.
We will share a future update on the timing of the M84 branch and releases.
- Chrome Releases Blog