Google joins Windows 8 browser war with plans for Metro Chrome

Google joins Windows 8 browser war with plans for Metro Chrome

Summary: Google has confirmed that it plans to join Mozilla in developing a next-generation browser optimized for the Metro style of Windows 8. It's an important validation of the Windows 8 platform from the developers of two of the most widely used Windows apps around.


First it was Mozilla. Now Google has tipped its plans to produce a version of its flagship Chrome browser built specifically for the Windows 8 platform.

A Google spokesperson confirms the report (originally published in Mashable) and says the new version of Chrome will be based on its desktop browser:

Our goal is to be able to offer our users a speedy, simple, secure Chrome experience across all platforms, which includes both the desktop and Metro versions of Windows 8. To that end we're in the process of building a Metro version of Chrome along with improving desktop Chrome in Windows 8, such as adding enhanced touch support.

Microsoft has a head start in this browser battle, with a version of Internet Explorer 10 that’s baked into Windows 8 and has been under steady development for a full year. The Windows 8 Consumer Preview includes the latest public release of IE10, which offers two views of the same browser engine: an immersive, plugin-free app (Metro style) and a traditional desktop app that supports Flash and other third-party plugins.

Mozilla says it is in the very early phases of “a very large project” to build Firefox for Metro. Product Manager Asa Dotzler said last week, “We’re working in stages. We have a proof of concept now. … I do not anticipate that we will get beyond a late stage Beta this year.”

Around the time of the launch of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Microsoft published a white paper, “Developing a Metro style enabled desktop browser,” with formal guidelines for developers:

A desktop browser that chooses to participate in the new Metro style experience when the user has expressed preference for the browser to do so. Such a browser can provide HTML5 rendering for webpages and service HTTP / HTTPS requests. By definition, such a browser has full access to Win32 APIs for rendering HTML5, including the ability to use multiple background processes, JIT compiling, and other distinctly browser-related functionality (like background downloading of files). Desktop browsers typically run at medium or low integrity level.

For Google, building a Metro style browser is a logical step that ensures it remains competitive as Windows evolves. Many of its signature services—Gmail and Google Docs in particular—are optimized for use with the Chrome engine. It’s hard to imagine that it would leave those users on their own when Windows 8 ships later this year.

For Microsoft, the decisions by Mozilla and Google provide an important validation of the Metro platform and Windows 8. On one level, the entry of two fierce competitors weakens Internet Explorer. But the fact that all three next-generation browsers will be available on the Windows 8 platform sends a signal to third-party developers and increases the likelihood that next-generation web-based apps will get an early foothold.

It's unclear whether either of these alternative browsers will be able to find a foothold on the next generation of tablets running Windows on ARM (WOA). The Microsoft guidelines say, "Metro style enabled desktop browsers may be distributed via existing channels, for example, web download, network share, OEM pre-install, or systems management software." Apps for WOA, on the other hand, will be distributed only through the Microsoft-run app store.

Microsoft would have to approve the distribution of an alternative browser through its store, and you can be certain that it would insist on perfect adherence to its app guidelines before allowing a third party in.

Topics: Windows, Browser, Google, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

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  • Google joins Windows 8 browser war with plans for Metro Chrome

    Interesting, for a UI that supposedly is ugly and no one wants there sure are a lot of developers making apps for it. Metro is here to stay, better get used to it.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Who thinks it's ugly?

      Metro is gorgeous. Most of the complaints I hear about it are that it doesn't blend well with desktop, which are spot on.

      It is the combination of Metro and desktop that is unseemly.
      x I'm tc
      • The problem...

        is Metro works fine and looks great on handheld devices. On a desktop, with large displays and users to require multiple windows Metro is not so hot.

        As long as developers take the approach of Mozilla and Google, providing desktop and Metro versions of their applications, I think Windows 8 has a lot of promise. If developers develop purely for Window 8, as opposed to Windows 8, then things aren't so rosy.

        This is certainly good news.
    • Google joins windows 8 browser war with plans for metro chrome

      I love Metro's interface, it's clean, sexy and I like the speed of the apps. Metro is definitely here to developers learn to embrace it I think there is going to be a lot of satisfied people. MS is supplying the's up to developers to make it work better in our daily lives.
      • Who are you kidding?

        I have been running Windows 8 for months on my NON-touch PC and find the Metro apps to be poor cousins of any regular Windows program. I very quickly changed ALL my default apps to NON Metro versions and have been otherwise happy with Windows 8. Metro is only good for tablets or touch PCs, which 99% of us do not have nor will we in the near future, so why all this Metro crap?
  • I don't think...

    ... It's so much Windows 8 Metro in general, but I think this was a reaction to Mozilla developing Firefox for Metro. It's a win-win either way, but Google hasn't really had Windows users in mind for a while now. After all, they're the ones who continued to use XP in such a ridiculous manner, that got themselves hacked by China, and still blamed Microsoft for it.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • I wish that more than one Metro-enabled browser were possible

    I don't use a single browser: I tend to prefer each for certain things. I hope Microsoft decides to change their "only one metro browser at a time" policy, as I switch back and forth quite a bit.

    I can't imagine how there could be a pure Metro Chrome or Firefox for WOA. Each would have to be written for WinRT to get through the guidelines.
  • This video from Chris Perillo says it all

    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • That was hilarious

      Chris Perillos dad trying to get back to the tiles, funniest part was when he said they trying to drive me to Mac.

      Thanks for the laughs Microsoft.
      • Looked maded up to me.

        Though it does reminds me of the Ellen Degeneres skit in which she showed how complicated the iPhone was to use, and Apple tried to sue her over it. :)
        William Farrel
      • Pretty funny

        Of course the guy made a complete fool out of himself, it didn't even occur to him to go to the part of the screen where the startmenu has been for bloody 17 years ! It displays a pretty big start screen icon.
    • The Hell?

      Why should I take a made up looking, YouTube video from a smug sounding 10 year old seriously? The guy looks as if he never even touched Windows before.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • You should watch more of this videos

      You'd realize his father was carefully led to the conclusion that OSX is better. I doubt that any of his videos are unbiased. Just pay attention to the interaction, the dialogue.
      Michael Alan Goff
    • Windows 8 needs minor tweaks to make it's functionality more obvious.

      The UX problems demoed in that video could be addressed in about 2 minutes of coding. I'm not giving Microsoft a pass if they don't address those issues by adding visual cues, but I think you have to remember that this is a beta release intended for tech enthusiasts, not intended for the masses. I would hope Microsoft realizes that when this operating system ships they're going to have to make menu trigger points much more obvious AND also teach users how to use the new OS. The fact that you have to teach users a new interface doesn't mean that the interface should never change. Once you learn how to use Windows 8 it is pretty easy to use even for amateurs. The learning curve in this beta is bad though, no question about it.

      If the suggestion is that they should throw the baby (Metro) out with the bathwater then I have to strongly disagree. The majority of what they created is excellent and modern. The OS is ready for the computers of tomorrow or more precisely the computers of Q4 2012, it's not merely built for the computers of today.
    • Hmmm... a build intended for those....

      who at the very least know that tapping the F1 key will open a help menu, not some smug twat's grandad... WTF? Considering every new Windows install (be it a new/upgrade install from disk, or a brand new PC) opens up to a Welcome screen and offer to take you through how to use said computer, including any new features.... what exactly is your point?

      In fact, do you EVER have a point, or are you forever limited to weary platitudes?
  • Desktop Browser with Metro Style Experience!

    These will be Desktop browsers with Live Tile support and not Metro Style Applications!
    As such they will not ship on WOA tablets/devies which does not allow thrid party desktop applications.

    A Metro Style Browser would need to support WinRT only and not Win32 and no plugins! With HTML5/JS built into WinRT what would be the point of alternative browers if they don't allow plugins and all have the same performance.
    • Lack of 3rd party apps

      [i]These will be Desktop browsers with Live Tile support and not Metro Style Applications! As such they will not ship on WOA tablets/devies which does not allow thrid party desktop applications.[/i]

      I see lawsuit in the making. Unless Microsoft brands these tablets under it's own name.
  • It's simple that major app developers will be buidling Apps for Windows 8

    With over a billion users using Windows it a matter of numbers. Windows 8 will begin being sold on PC's and Mozilla and Firefox don't want to be left behind. Other developers would be crazy to not want to tap this market and this is a clear sign that Windows 8 will have a good App selection on Metro on launch and a vastly growing store going forward.
  • Hopefully Apple and Opera will follow suit. They're the big two left.

    Hopefully Apple and Opera will follow suit. They're the big two left.

    This shows a stark contrast to Apple's tablet approach whereby third party browsers are locked out. Safari is okay but Chrome and Firefox are so much better.
    • Opera

      I expect. Apple.... Not so much. They can't even properly code desktop applications, why would they bother with Metro?
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion