Google Chrome's notifications won't support Windows 10's Action Center

Google has valid reasons for Chrome to not support Action Center, but it's still the latest blow in a longstanding feud with Microsoft.

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Now that Windows 10’s slick Action Center provides a home for system notifications, it seems like a no-brainer for Google to slip notifications pushed out by the Chrome browser in there, right? Wrong.

The Chrome team has no plans to support Windows 10’s Action Center functionality, as first reported by Neowin. A Chrome support moderator named “Ho” updated a feature request for Action Center support to “WontFix,” saying the following:

“Thanks for the input and ideas! We’ve discussed this quite a bit and decided not to integrate with the system level notification at this time. It would create a weird state where Chrome behaves differently on Win 10 than on Win 7/8 and developers of extensions/websites wouldn’t know what they design for. Maybe we can revisit it in a few years when most users are on Win 10 :)”

The story behind the story: While the explanation seems reasonable enough on the surface, Microsoft and Google have been locked in a war regarding feature support for their respective services—with users all-too-often caught in the crossfire.

Microsoft’s native Calendar app removed Google Calendar support in Windows 8.1—though it returned in Windows 10—and in 2013 Google removed support for Sync, which threatened service for Exchange ActiveSync users with Windows Phones. (Google and Microsoft eventually hammered out an agreement to delay the shutdown until Windows Phone 8.1 added CalDAV and CardDAV support.) Google has also refused to release apps for its services on Windows Phone or in the Windows Store. Things got so nasty that Microsoft released its own version of YouTube for Windows, which led to a brief, but bitter slapfight with Google.

windows 10 action center

Windows 10's Action Center.

Push me, pull me

The Chrome team’s refusal to embrace Action Center reeks of more of the same, especially since Google's been stealthily sneaking Chrome OS in through Windows' back door for a while now, but Ho provided some additional context in a follow-up comment after receiving some push-back:

“To be clear, this is not a matter of just piping notifications to the OS for free. All notification (systems) are not the same. Chrome notifications allow to take actions right from the notifications, they come directly from an extension/website, they can require active dismissal, and so on.

On Win 10, using the native notification system would mean that all notifications could show briefly before disappearing but they could also not show, depending on a user setting. All notifications would show as coming from Chrome. They would not be actionable, and so on. As a developer, it makes quite a difference if I design something that allows users to take an action or something that merely informs them and whether it will be a pop up or a silent addition to the notification center.”

Well, when you put it that way, delaying support for Action Center sort of makes sense—though it’ll no doubt sit poorly with users already grumpy about the Microsoft/Google pissing match. Refusing to support a central system notification system that every other app uses seems pretty anti-user as well, sure to sow some confusion.

Google does have a point, though: Chrome's notification system is more fully-featured than Windows 10's. Though Microsoft's OS does support actionable notifications, they would all appear as Chrome notifications in the Action Center, and Chrome developers would indeed need to put in extra work to support both Windows 10's notifications and Chrome's Windows 7 and 8 notifications. Here’s hoping Microsoft adds more granular notification options in the future so Chrome ditches its reluctance to Action Center—or reveals its hesitance as truly being pettiness.

Editors note: The last paragraph was tweaked to include mention of Windows 10's actionable notifications.

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