Google sneaks Chrome OS interface secretly into Windows 8

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 6, 2013
Updated • Oct 6, 2013
Google Chrome

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.

google chrome os windows 8

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.

Closing Words

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.


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  1. Charles said on October 7, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    You CAN do anything you want in life. Should you? Now theres another story. Someone needs to bomb Google and get rid of thier crappy software. People like you keep posting idiot blogs like this and corrupting the world with stupid code.

  2. Coyote said on October 7, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    I think this is a brilliant move by google, not only do they get to show off chrome OS they show what 8 is capable of without having to cowtow to microsofts own arbitrarily set rules. Perhaps google realized that yes, there are people that still use a screen larger than 10″ or perhaps like to have several pages up for comparison. And the little clock in the lower corner, absolute genius! Why didn’t windows have that before(/sarcasm)?

  3. iron2000 said on October 7, 2013 at 3:13 am

    This article should have come after the one explaining the Aura build since it started since then.
    Or perhaps earlier in other channels.

  4. Karl J. Gephart said on October 7, 2013 at 1:43 am

    It’s innovative, but too aggressive of a move by Google, which is typical for them. Wonder if this is coming to Win 7?

  5. mma173 said on October 7, 2013 at 12:08 am

    Somehow, this reminded me of an old Mozilla project– Webian Shell “”

  6. KK said on October 6, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Just great. An OS inside an OS.
    Mass confusion ahead!

    Actually, this is very “virus like” behavior. Google wants to get Chrome OS in front of eyeballs “by any means necessary”.
    A “Trojan Horse” marketing stunt….inside of Windows itself.

    No thanks.

    People shouldn’t hand all their data and browsing/online habits over to this company.
    It will not end well.

    Some wise advice from a guy 2000 years ago:
    Don’t use Caesar’s coins (or his free cloud software services/products).

    Hand them back to him.

    1. JohnP said on October 6, 2013 at 7:27 pm

      And just look at what happened to that guy…;)

      1. KK said on October 7, 2013 at 6:17 am

        They can kill ya…but…the stronger meme always wins.
        GoogleRome will fall on it’s own sword sometime in the future.

        It’ll wind up taking it’s “citizens” with it.

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