Google released its first browser for Windows 8 today. This is a test launch, and it’s interesting because it doesn’t follow the Metro design conventions like IE does. But, will Chrome lovers care?
Google Chrome for Windows 8 beta released, ignores Microsoft guidelines
To unlock this new browser, you’ll need to be running Windows 8 Release Preview and you’ll need to have Google Chrome as your default browser. Doing this will change the Chrome icon on the start screen. It seems obvious that Google has either ignored the Metro design guidelines or hasn’t actually looked at them at all.
Although it claims to be Metro-style, Chrome 21.0.1171.0 doesn’t look much like Metro. Right-clicking or pressing Windows key+z should, in Metro, reveal the app bar at the screen’s bottom. Google has broken from this convention by replicating its browser menu in this area. If you right-click anywhere else on a web page you get more context menus. This is normal for desktop programs but doesn’t follow Metro guidelines.
Google promised, in its announcement of last week, that its first Metro release would include “integration with basic Windows 8 functionality, such as charms and snap view.” This browser delivers that promise, but the key word here is “basic”. You can, for example, use the Settings charm, but the Chrome-specific options just open settings pages or dialogs.
Also, a few Windows 8 specific options didn’t work at all until I’d signed out and back in after installing the new Chrome. The Search charm, as an example, seemed to allow the Windows 8 search interface to work with Chrome Metro-style, but in my test system, clicking “Search” didn’t work until I’d signed back in.
This new Chrome build resembles Internet Explorer in one way, though: it supports Flash playback with Flash Player 188.8.131.52. This player is available by using the built-in Flash code that’s integral to Chrome. Unlike Internet Explorer 10, Flash Playback in Chrome will play Flash content from any site, even adverts. It isn’t restricted to sites on a managed whitelist.
If this new build was a real Metro app, Google would have to channel it through the Windows Store, allowing Microsoft to nix it because of its various design deviations. However, because “Metro style enables desktop browsers” are a unique sort of hybrid, due to the code being delivered via external channels, Microsoft has no say in the matter.
Windows 8 designers will most likely be piqued by this style deviation from the usual Metro app template. Google has said that it will, over the next few months, be “smoothing out the UI on Metro and improving touch support”.