Windows 8: Google Chrome app advancing

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 23, 2012
Google Chrome, Windows 8

Before I start looking at recent advances that Google implemented into the Windows 8 version of its Chrome web browser, I'd like to take a moment to point out that I'm still not entirely sure how apps that run on the startpage but not installed from the Windows Store are called. Do I simply refer to them as apps? Or are they called Windows Store apps regardless of the fact that they have no connection with the built-in store?

Anyway, Google like Mozilla, is working on an app version of its Chrome browser that works directly as an application on Windows 8's startpage. Before you can use the app version you need to make Chrome the default web browser on the system.To make Chrome the default browser load the settings using this url chrome://chrome/settings/ and locate the default browser option there to do just that. Once you have done that, you can use Chrome both on the startpage directly as a fullscreen application and on the classic desktop.

First thing that you may notice in the most recent dev version of the browser is an option to switch to the "other" version of the browser. You can switch from the desktop version of Chrome to the app version (Google calls it Windows 8 Mode) and vice versa taking all open tabs with you in the process.

google chrome windows 8 mode

Please note that you can only run one Chrome version at the time. If you have configured Chrome to launch in Windows 8 mode, the browser will launch in that mode even if you launch it from the desktop.

The two Chrome versions on Windows 8 previously were using different user profiles which Google in a recent version changed. Google Chrome on Windows 8 is now sharing the user profile, so that extensions, the browsing history and other data are available in both versions of the browser. This puts Google one step ahead of Mozilla who recently announced that add-ons synchronization between both browser versions is not included in the initial release.


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  1. trt said on April 8, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Thank you so much! I can resize the Chrome window now, and even the bookmarks are larger/easier to see.

  2. Tim said on November 14, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    How do I turn off Windows 8 mode?

    1. Anonymous said on January 9, 2014 at 6:56 pm

      Same place as were you can turn it on, smarty ;-)

  3. Peter (NL) said on September 23, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Martin, what is then the difference in appearance and usability of Chrome desktop version and Windows 8 mode ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on September 23, 2012 at 9:19 pm

      Well the core difference is that the Windows 8 Mode version of Chrome is always running in fullscreen, while you can easily resize the desktop version exactly the way you want it to be. And before someone corrects me on that, yes, I know that you can have apps displayed on 1/3 or 2/3 of the screen, but that is hardly what I’d call freely resizable.

      1. Joo Yoon Chung said on November 10, 2012 at 2:52 am

        Thanks for the article. Another difference is this: In Windows 8 mode, because the top edge of the screen is reserved for the … what do you call it? the function which allows apps to be moved to the left or right? because the top edge is reserved, the Chrome tabs will not sit flush against the top. This makes it more difficult to click the tabs in the Window 8 mode versus full-screen Chrome (in Windows 7 mode).

  4. Roman ShaRP said on September 23, 2012 at 5:33 pm


    I think with extensions like IETab it’s possible to switch not only to other browser (Open in other application), but to another copy of browser too (install Pale Moon and Firefox or Firefox and Firefox portable and switch from one to other).

    This doesn’t require both of them to be default browsers.

    Soooo… where’s the advance?

    It’s more not like the advance, but “Let’s do with Metro/Modern UI what we can do without it”

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