Google’s Web browser, Chrome, is headed to rival Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 8 Metro—sort of. Google began work on a Metro-style enabled desktop browser, a version of Chrome that will run in both the Metro and desktop environments of Windows 8 on x86, back in March. The company didn’t offer a specific release date for Chrome, only noting users will be able to test it out in the next Chrome Dev channel release by setting it as the default browser.
The company also pointed out Chrome won’t run in WinRT (Windows 8 on ARM processors), as Microsoft is not allowing browsers other than Internet Explorer (IE) on the platform. “The initial releases of Chrome in Metro mode will include integration with the basic Windows 8 system functionality, such as charms and snap view,” Google software engineer Carlos Pizano wrote in a blog post. “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.”
Microsoft has a lot riding on the latest version of its Windows 8 Metro operating system, which is expected to launch sometime this fall. The design aesthetic, user interface, currently found on Windows Phone and the latest Xbox dashboard, has profound influence on Windows 8: In place of the “traditional” desktop that defined previous editions of Windows, the newest operating system will open with a Metro start screen of colorful, touchable tiles linked to applications. In theory, this will help port Windows 8 onto tablets and other touch-happy form factors; users will have the ability to download Metro apps to their machine via an online storefront.
Google and Microsoft are locked in an escalating battle for browser market share. Google unseated Microsoft as global usage of the Chrome browser passed that of IE for the first time, according to a May report from StatCounter, an independent Website analytics company. Data from more than 15 billion page views (4 billion from the United States; 850 million from the United Kingdom) for the full month of May shows Chrome took 32.43 percent of the worldwide market, compared with 32.12 percent for IE. Microsoft still holds a comfortable lead in the United States with the IE browser, however, capturing 38.35 percent of the market in May, while Chrome trailed with 23.66 percent.