We’ve seen before Google’s smart move bringing the Chrome App Launcher to Windows 8 to take advantage of the missing Start button in the operating system, but the latest “dev channel” version of Chrome shows that the company is doing a lot more by incorporating Chrome OS to the mix, strongly hinting that the search giant has planned an extensive agenda to get Windows users to use its own OS.
When you launch the latest (non-stable) version of Google Chrome in Windows 8 mode, you’ll find a new environment that is identical to Chrome OS, but it also resembles a lot to Windows 7 and Windows 8 (desktop).
You’ll notice this in the taskbar (Google calls it “Shelf”), which features a “start button”, apps menu, and a clock in the bottom-right corner. (By the way, you can move the Shelf to the bottom, right, or left side of the screen, and there is also an “Autohide” option. You can get access to these options by right-clicking the Shelf or an empty area in the background.)
The Shelf also holds your favorite apps, by default you’ll see Google, Gmail, Docs, and YouTube, you can add and remove them as you please, but you cannot pin websites to this “taskbar”, only apps. Hopefully this changes in a later release.
It’s really weird, launching the Windows 8 mode of Chrome is like being inside of another operating system. You can interact (minimize, maximize, close, and snap) with the windows, like if you would in the desktop. Snapping windows to either side of the screen is an interesting feature, but it’s not quite the same as Snap View in Microsoft’s OS.
During my test, the browser behaved pretty well with every page I visited, but of course this is a pre-beta software. For example, clicking on the clock brings up a menu with a few options, however these functionalities still don’t work — clicking the power button didn’t shut down the browser and the help button didn’t take me anywhere.
It’s not a second OS
Although, you may read in many websites that this is Google’s Chrome OS, this is not the case. If it was truly an operating system, you’ll be running it on a virtual machine. This is just the Chrome browser software with some extensions of the operating system.
Now, if you think about it, this is genius, looking closely you’ll notice that Google has been slowly introducing Windows users to a new operating system, one feature at a time. Let’s just do a simple recap: First, it was simply a web browser, soon after extensions and apps came along, then Google gave birth to the app launcher, and now completing the transition, we’re getting the real Google Chrome OS experience inside Windows 8.
I do believe this is intentional and Microsoft should key an eye on it, because this seems to be a real trojan horse to get Windows users to switch to a new OS. So this is why Windows 8.1 has to really change the game and be better. The software giant has got a lot complaints in Windows 8 with features disappearing (e.g., Start button and Start Menu) and for being too difficult to use for some people, and if the forthcoming update doesn’t deliver, many users may just consider switchover, perhaps to a Google Chrome OS based laptop, because they’ll know how to use it.
Also Microsoft received many feedbacks in the past from blocking third-parties web browsers in Windows RT, and now seeing what Google is doing, I really don’t see the company changing this policy anytime soon.
Remember that everything you’re seeing today still under development, which means that the new environment may or may not make it to the final stable version of the web browser. If you want to give it a try, you can download and install the dev channel bits for Windows 8. The installation will erase your previous version, but it will keep all your bookmarks, passwords, and settings.
As you will probably notice you cannot re-launch Chrome in Windows 8 mode like in previous releases, you’ll need to set Google Chrome as your default web browser and re-launch from the Start screen.
Share your thought about Chrome being like a second OS in your Windows 8 machine in the comments below. Thanks!