Manage the Chrome variations framework

Applies to managed Chrome Browsers and Chrome devices.

As a Chrome administrator, you can use the ChromeVariations policy to manage the Chrome variations framework on Microsoft® Windows®, Apple® Mac®, and Linux and the DeviceChromeVariations policy to manage them on Chrome OS.

Important: We do not recommend disabling the Chrome variations framework. By doing this you can potentially prevent Google from quickly providing critical security fixes and significantly increases the risk of security and compatibility issues in your organization

Benefits

Using variations, Chrome can:

  • Give a small group of users previews of new features and gather feedback.
  • Slowly roll out changes to progressively larger groups of users and minimize the risk of incompatibilities.
  • Provide faster security and other critical updates.
  • Rollback features if a problem is discovered, without waiting for a new version of Chrome. The user only needs to restart their computer to get the new configuration.

Step 1: Review policies

Policy Description

Chrome​Variations

Specifies which variations are enabled in Chrome for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Unset: Defaults to Enable Chrome variations, as described below.

DeviceChromeVariations

Specifies which variations are enabled in Chrome for Chrome OS.

Unset: Defaults to Enabled, as described below.

What the policies manage

Setting these policies enables or disables the Chrome variations framework for deploying changes within your organizational units. You can also choose to enable them for critical fixes only.

Step 2: Set the policy

Click below for steps, based on how you want to manage these policies.

Admin console for Chrome on Windows, Mac, and Linux
Can apply for signed-in users on any device or enrolled browsers on Windows, Mac, or Linux. For details, see Understand when settings apply.
  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Devicesand thenChrome.
  3. Click User & browser settings.
  4. To apply the setting to everyone, leave the top organizational unit selected. Otherwise, select a child organizational unit.
  5. Scroll to Chrome variations.
  6. To enable or disable variations, choose an option:
    • Enable Chrome variations—Allows all variations to be applied.
    • Enable variations for critical fixes only—Allows only variations considered critical for security or stability to be applied, including critical rollbacks and security fixes. Disables all experiments and progressive rollouts. Useful for organizations that control Chrome versions manually.
    • Disable variations (not recommended)—No changes are deployed using the variations framework.
  7. Click Save.
Admin console for Chrome OS
Applies to Chrome devices that are managed from your Admin console.
  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Devicesand thenChrome.
  3. Click Device settings.
  4. To apply the setting to everyone, leave the top organizational unit selected. Otherwise, select a child organizational unit.
  5. Scroll to Device update settingsand thenVariations.
  6. Choose an option:
    • Enabled—Allows all variations to be applied.
    • Enable variations for critical fixes only—Allows only variations considered critical for security or stability to be applied, including critical rollbacks and security fixes. Disables all experiments and progressive rollouts. Useful for organizations that control Chrome versions manually.
    • Disabled (not recommended)—No changes are deployed using the variations framework.
  7. Click Save.
Windows
Applies to Windows users who sign in to a managed account on Chrome Browser.

Using Group Policy

In your Group Policy Management (Computer or User Configuration folder):
  1. Go to Policiesand thenAdministrative Templatesand thenGoogleand thenGoogle Chrome.
  2. Enable Chrome Variations.
  3. Set an option:
    • Enable Chrome variations
    • Enable variations for critical fixes only
    • Disable variations
  4. Deploy the policy to your users.
Mac
Applies to Mac users who sign in to a managed account on Chrome Browser.

In your Chrome configuration profile, add or update the following key and then deploy the change to your users.

Set the ChromeVariations key to <integer>value</integer>, where <value> is 0, 1,or 2.

Example code:

<key>ChromeVariations</key>
  <dict>
  <integer>1</integer>
</dict>

Linux
Applies to Linux users who sign in to a managed account on Chrome Browser.

In your preferred JSON file editor, add or update a JSON file and then deploy the change to your users.

  1. Go to your etc/opt/chrome/policies/managed folder.
  2. Set the ChromeVariations key to 0, 1, or 2.

Example code:

{
"ChromeVariations": "1"

 

Step 3: Verify policies are applied

After you apply any Chrome policies, users need to restart Chrome Browser for the settings to take effect. You can check users’ devices to make sure the policies were applied correctly.

  1. On a managed device, go to chrome://policy.
  2. Click Reload policies.
  3. For ChromeVariations and DeviceChromeVariations, make sure Status is set to OK.
  4. For ChromeVariations and DeviceChromeVariations, click Show value and make sure that the value fields are the same as what you set in the policies.
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