Windows 8 users may now try out an early version of Metro-style Google Chrome by installing the browser’s developer build.
To access the Metro-style browser, users must installChromethroughthedevchannel, then set Chrome as the default browser. Once they do, the Chrome icon in the Windows 8 Start menu will change to show that it’s a Metro-style app.
The Metro-style version of Chrome is similar to its desktop counterpart, but it has larger tabs that are more conducive to touchscreens. Unlike Internet Explorer 10, Chrome shows all open tabs at all times — IE hides them until the user right-clicks or swipes upward on a touchscreen — so it’s a good option for users who need to quickly switch between tabs. The browser also supports Incognito mode and all Adobe Flash content, whereas Internet Explorer uses a whitelist of approved Flash content.
Chrome also supports some of Windows 8’s Metro features. Through the charms bar, users can share links with other apps, but the universal search function in Windows 8 doesn’t seem to work. The browser supports side-by-side snapping of other apps, so you can keep an eye on Twitter or e-mail as you surf the Web.
But as EdBottpointsout, Chrome violates Metro design principles with the browser’s right-click functionality. In Windows 8, right-clicking is supposed to do the same thing as swiping upward on a touchscreen, but that’s not the case in Metro-style Chrome. Swiping upward toggles full-screen browsing in Chrome, while right-clicking shows a pop-up context menu, as it does in the desktop browser.
I don’t have a tablet for testing Windows 8, but when using Splashtop’s Win8 MetroTestbedapp on the iPad, scrolling didn’t work in Chrome. If this is a problem with all tablets, I’m sure it will be fixed with future versions. But I also hope Google goes back and follows Metro design principles for right-clicks and upward swipes.
A few other nitpicks: There’s currently no way to send a Web page from Metro-style Chrome to the desktop, and the “New window” command opens a new tab instead. (Some sort of windowing function for Metro-style Chrome would be great for tab junkies.) Metro-style Chrome also has a “Pin to Start Screen” button that, at the moment, only crashes the browser.
If you’re running a preview version of Windows 8 and want to give Chrome a try, keep in mind that only the default browser may run as a Metro-style app, so Internet Explorer will only run on the desktop once you switch. To switch back to Metro-style IE, you must open the desktop version, go to “Internet Options,” click the “Programs” tab and click the link to “Make Internet Explorer the default browser.”