Google Chrome version 32.0.1700.76 has now been released and now those running Windows 8 may notice a new option that takes aim at replacing Microsoft’s Windows 8 desktop.
Recent updates to the Google Chrome browser have been relatively minor, but ver. 32 is much different. The Windows 8 mode of ver. 32 allows a user to run the browser as though it was a Metro-style app. Using Microsoft’s own rules, Google Chrome is able to side-step the requirements that normally apply to apps by forcing them to be distributed through Microsoft’s Windows Store.
The first Windows 8 version of the browser appeared in June or 2012 and aligned with the preview release of Windows 8. The latest ver. 32 is much more refined than Google’s first version and makes it known that the search giant is still aggressively challenging Microsoft’s UI guidelines for Windows 8 apps.
Running in the default desktop mode, users will hardly know the difference in the new Google Chrome updates. However, re-launching the browser from Chrome’s main menu in Windows 8 mode and everything immediately changes and a user can instantly see that Google is taking aim at Windows 8.
In order to have the ability at using the option on a Windows 8 machine, users will have to set Chrome as their default browser. Once launched into Windows 8 mode, the browser changes to full screen and covers the entire Windows 8 interface. Chrome offers its own taskbar which Google calls “the shelf.” An apps button that looks a lot like the Windows Start button is located at the lower left where one would normally locate the Start button. To the right of the shelf is a clock, where users would normally find a clock on a Windows-based PC. Once in Windows 8 mode a user can run any Chrome browser extensions and apps found at the Chrome store. The browser window also allows the user to resize the window just like any user can on the Windows desktop.
Overall, the look and feel of the Chrome OS is very similar to a bare-bones version of the Google Chrome OS. However, even though the browser runs as though it’s a Windows 8 app, it does not follow the Windows UI guidelines around their apps.
One of the differences from the Window’s apps is that there is no pinch-to-zoom support. Even though there is support for finger scrolling, selecting objects, and opening links, the browser doesn’t allow the resizing of windows through pinch-to-zoom. This can be challenging trying to read some web pages when the text is too small. Users have to go into Chrome’s Zoom menu in order to resize the unreadable text in that window.
Another difference is the Share charm. Using IE, Windows 8 users can share information and data between apps. As an example, a user can send a link from IE to Twitter, OneNote, Email, and EverNote. This feature is not available within Chrome’s environment and data from the Chrome browser is unable to be shared with the Windows 8 apps.
The third difference is that there is normally a bottom bar available in Windows 8 apps when swiped upward from the bottom. The bottom app bar usually stores extra commands but this function doesn’t work in Chrome.
The last big difference is that some web pages do not display correctly when a user engages the snap mode. Chrome will only snap to half-screen size only. Another downfall is that the content of that window will also not resize automatically. The results of what a user sees in this case are rather lacking.
Google Chrome has its own snap capabilities that allow a user to arrange windows next to each other.
Experts are split on whether Google Chrome ver. 32 has any real benefits when taking aim on Windows 8 with Chrome’s updated Windows 8 mode. Users may be split on the subject also.
By Brent Matsalla