Windows 8 user can run web browsers on the desktop or in the Start interface as an app. There are not that many browsers that support the feature right now: Internet Explorer does right out of the box, all versions of Chrome do, and Firefox Aurora and Nightly do as well.
It needs to be noted that the functionality becomes only available if you set one of the supported browsers as the default system browser.
If you have installed the latest Chrome Dev version on Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, you may have noticed that Google has made a fundamental change to its Start app version.
Side note: You cannot make Chrome Canary the default browser, which is why you won't be able to use that feature on the system if you have only installed that version of Chrome.
When you start Google Chrome Dev on the Start interface of Windows 8 or 8.1, you will notice that it displays a Chrome OS-like interface instead of the full screen web browser that you may have used previously.
Chrome OS in Windows 8
While you will still get a Google Chrome Dev version in that window, it is no longer running in full screen at all times. Instead, you get a movable browser window and a task bar at the bottom of the screen that displays the time, links to popular Google services such as Gmail, YouTube, Google Docs and Search, and a grid icon that links back to the start screen.
You may notice several unique features of this implementation. First, it is possible to spawn multiple Chrome windows using the menu or keyboard shortcuts. Other Start browsers limit you to one browser window at a time.
You can drag and drop tabs around, to create new windows or move them from one window to the other, or spawn private browsing windows if you so desire.
The taskbar at the bottom of the screen is certainly an interesting feature. While it is currently limited to the services listed above, it is likely that Google will add customization options to it in the future. For now though, they only open the services in the Google Chrome browser window.
It is interesting to note that the grid icon links to the Start screen, and not to a listing of apps like in the Chrome OS launcher or on Google properties where it is used by Google to link to other services that the company owns.
The implementation shows that it is possible to display multiple windows at the same time in a single application environment. That's great because it shows to other app developers that it can be done. While it may introduce another interface layer to Windows 8, it is certainly more flexible than the operating system's own app snap feature as you can change the size of windows exactly, and display more windows next to each other if you so desire. Plus, you can also align windows horizontally on the screen if you so desire, which you cannot do in Windows 8's app interface.