Google teases upcoming release of Metro-enabled Chrome browser

Google teases upcoming release of Metro-enabled Chrome browser

Summary: Google is days away from delivering the first test release of Chrome with support for the Windows 8 Metro style interface. Here's what to expect.

TOPICS: Browser

It’s no secret that Google and Mozilla find themselves in the unusual position of playing catch-up to Microsoft in the race to develop a Metro-enabled browser that will run on Windows 8.

Back in March, Google confirmed that it had begun work on a Metro-enabled desktop browser. Today, in a post on the Chromium blog, Google’s Carlos Pizano announced that the Metro code will be available in the next Chrome Dev channel release.

The post doesn’t say exactly when the new code will be released, but Google’s documentation for the Dev channel notes that new builds are typically made available “once or twice a week.”

To test the Chrome version of Metro you’ll need to be running the Windows 8 Release Preview. In addition, enabling the Metro version requires that Chrome be set as the default. That’s a common requirement for all products in the unusual ““Metro style enabled desktop browser” category.

Google says its initial Metro implementation will improve over time:

The initial releases of Chrome in Metro mode will include integration with the basic Windows 8 system functionality, such as charms and snap view. Over the next few months, we’ll be smoothing out the UI on Metro and improving touch support, so please feel free to file bugs. We’re committed to bringing the speed, simplicity, and security of Chrome into Windows 8, and we look forward to working with you on it.

The post included a single screen shot, which looks remarkably similar to the current desktop release of Chrome:

And, of course, because this is Google, the requisite wacky job title is on display: Pizano listed his title as “Software Engineer and Metro Gnome.”

The post does contain one backhanded swipe at Microsoft. In an explanation of why this upcoming release is a desktop browser that includes Metro functionality, Pizano writes:

Chrome won’t run in WinRT, i.e. Windows 8 on ARM processors, as Microsoft is not allowing browsers other than Internet Explorer on the platform.

The link in that sentence goes to a post on the Mozilla blog, which offers a more nuanced (and accurate) interpretation of the problem with third-party browsers on Windows RT:

Windows on ARM prohibits any browser except for Internet Explorer from running in the privileged “Windows Classic” environment. In practice, this means that only Internet Explorer will be able to perform many of the advanced computing functions vital to modern browsers in terms of speed, stability, and security to which users have grown accustomed. Given that IE can run in Windows on ARM, there is no technical reason to conclude other browsers can’t do the same.

Why does this matter to users? Quite simply because Windows on ARM -as currently designed- restricts user choice, reduces competition and chills innovation.  By allowing only IE to perform the advanced functions of a modern Web browser, third-party browsers are effectively excluded from the platform.

Google and Mozilla can, if they choose, build browsers for Windows RT. But those browsers would lack the ability to execute JavaScript efficiently, they would be prevented from using plugins, and they would have to be approved by Microsoft and delivered through the Windows app store.

As I noted last month, "At this late date, the likelihood that Microsoft will change the architecture of Windows RT to allow Firefox and Chrome onto the desktop is zero." Google and Mozilla are, meanwhile, pressing on with their projects for traditional x86/x64 PCs running Windows 8.

See also:

Topic: Browser

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  • In short, much ado about nothing?

    All those folks that were up in arms about Google "being forced" to write using the Metro APIs were for naught? Good for Google. Let's hope Mozilla follows suit and writes to the API as well.

    I suppose we will find printed retractions from them around the same time that the Apple vulnerability deniers will retract their statement that only Filevault was affected.
    Your Non Advocate
    • Separate issues

      This is a desktop browser with Metro capabilities. The Metro-only browser for Windows RT is still very much in contention. See the end of the post here (which I added after initial publication, so you might have missed it).
      Ed Bott
      • Just to be clear here

        [i]the likelihood that Microsoft will change the architecture of Windows RT to allow Firefox and Chrome onto the desktop is zero[/i]

        Google and Mozilla are absolutely and totally free to create Windows RT versions of Chrome and Firefox as long as they use only server side rendering or they create a shell around Trident. I've never seen any quote from MS suggesting that any browser released by Google or Mozilla would be banned from the Windows RT app store. This is the way Apple works and there are dozens of "browsers" in iOS although none of them do any client side rendering using anything other than the non-optimized version of Apple's Webkit renderer.
      • " long as they use only use...Trident...or a shell."

        So, in other words, not free.
        x I'm tc
      • @x I'm tc Free, as in free

        You are free to come over to my house and have a beer and some food. You are not free to piss on my sofa and otherwise make a mess.
        Your Non Advocate
    • Chrome will still work better

      than native IE. IE has become a joke. I don't care about RT. It is a dead end before it even starts IMO. When a cell phone can browse pages faster than a state of the art windows machine, you know there are issues with windows.
  • Google teases upcoming release of Metro-enabled Chrome browser

    Its funny that Google would release a Metro enabled chrome browser when certain ZDNet bloggers labeled Microsoft Windows 8 a disaster. Perhaps this tech company sees more clearly than ZDNet does since they are investing the time to create the browser for Windows 8.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • not worth the effort

    windoze rt will have a market presence below 1%.
    The Linux Geek
    • So..... on parity with Linux Desktop market presence?

      So are you saying Shuttleworth is engaging in worthless activity?
      Your Non Advocate
    • You're losing your touch. I would've expected you to say -10% to -100%.

      market presence for "windoze rt".

      Isn't it about time somebody asked you what you get out of posting your ridiculous comments? I know you're having fun at the expense of the other ZDNet members, but, don't you get tired of the nonsense already? Shouldn't you get a life already?
  • Only IE on Windows 8 ARM

    I will never get one, that's for sure. No matter how many times Microsoft makes a new IE, it's always as bad as always. And in web developement it stills have some CSS3 issues.
    • HAHAHAHAHAHA. I see you forgot to mention that IE10 is the most css3 and

      html5 compatible browser there is. Lame of you.
      Johnny Vegas
  • Chrome?

    No thanks IE 10 is just fine. Working for me with no problems.
  • Google needs to find some new talking points for their gnomes

    Speed simplicity and security are all areas where IE10 already has them beat and are not reasons anyone would move to chrome. Also on the winrt side ms already provides them with a way to write a browser that takes advantage of all the native performance and security improvements. If they don't want to it's not ms's fault.
    Johnny Vegas
  • Interesting, Chrome on Metro is 100% better than Chrome OS

    I've read about Chromebooks in the last weeks and I'm very dissapointed (not because of their hardware, but because of the OS), Chrome OS doesn't has apps, just bookmarks for websites.

    So I'm thinking Windows 8 is better OS than Chrome OS for many reasons, the most important is you can run a Metro Chrome App which does exactly the same as the full CHrome OS does. On the other side, Chrome OS will receive lawsuits in Europe and maybe in US, since it's so closed you cannot run another browser using that OS (Ex. you can't install Firefox on Chrome OS, but you can install Firefox on Windows 8)
    Gabriel Hernandez
  • doesnt Chrome need to be

    chromeless in Metro?
  • android FTW

    in next 5 years android will rule the world..
    • and

      Pig's will fly there will be world peace, world hunger will be ended and we will all be drinking that free bubble up and eating that rainbow stew. Cant wait.
  • FOSS innovation all the way

    no one will care about windoze on ARM
  • To be frank..

    The only reason I use chrome or firefox is for the extensions / synch. Chrome and Firefox don't offer much other than that.