Google’s attempted invasion of the Windows desktop is now officially over. The Chrome-maker recently announced that the Chrome app launcher will be removed from Windows, Mac, and Linux in July, though it’ll stick around in Chrome OS. Google says it’s dumping the app launcher in the name of streamlining the browser after discovering that most Chrome users “prefer to launch their apps from within Chrome.”
The app launcher was one of three Chrome browser features that appeared to be specifically designed to turn Chrome into a “platform within a platform” on Windows. In addition to the app launcher—which sat in the taskbar and allowed users to fire up Chrome apps just like a normal desktop program, miming Windows Start menu functionality—Google killed Chrome’s notification center in October. That feature was replaced with native web push notifications, a standardized feature that sites can use across all browsers.
Beyond those two features, Google also created a modern UI version of the browser for Windows 8 that essentially put Chrome OS inside Windows. Microsoft’s decision to do away with Windows 8’s ill-advised dual UI for a more traditional desktop in Windows 10 killed Google’s attempt at “Chrome OS for Windows.”
The impact on you at home: If you’re one of the few fans of Chrome’s app launcher, Google may still provide a way for you to launch Chrome apps from the taskbar. Right now, you can create a desktop shortcut for Chrome apps by typing
chrome://apps into the Omnibox, right-clicking an app, and then selecting Create shortcuts. The shortcut can then be dragged from the desktop onto the taskbar. We’re confirming with Google that this functionality will remain once the app launcher goes away and will update this story should the company respond.