The Chromium team is set to release its first a version of the Chrome browser for the Metro mode of Windows 8, the open-source project announced on Thursday.
The version will run in both the Metro and desktop environments that come with Windows 8, but it will only run on the traditional x86 flavour of the operating system. As has already been established to some consternation, third-party browsers are locked out of the ‘Windows RT’ version that is designed to run on ARM-based tablets.
The Chromium project is open source, but the code it produces forms the basis for Google’s Chrome browser.
“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 said 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.”
Those developers wanting to access the early versions of Chrome in Metro mode will need to set it as their default browser in the Chrome Dev channel, which releases new test iterations of the browser once or twice a week.
Microsoft’s decision to ensure the only browser on Windows RT is Internet Explorer has drawn criticism from rival browser-makers such as Mozilla, and European antitrust regulators said last month that they were keeping an eye on the situation.
Microsoft has famously clashed with these regulators before over the issue of browser choice, having been forced in 2009 to stop bundling IE with Windows.
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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.
Google announced this week that it will soon release a version of its Chrome browser for Windows 8 Metro mode.
Chrome for Metro will be available in the next Chrome Dev channel release by setting it as your default browser, Carlos Pizano, a Google software engineer and “Metro Gnome,” wrote in a blog post. It will work with the Release Preview of Windows 8, which Microsoft released last week.
Google first announced plans for a Metro-style Chrome browser in March. “Our goal is to be able to offer our users a speedy, simple, secure Chrome experience across all platforms, which includes both the desktop and Metro versions of Windows 8,” Google said at the time.
Pizano said today that the “initial releases of Chrome in Metro mode will include integration with the basic Windows 8 system functionality, such as charms and snap view.” But in the lead-up to the expected late-2012 release of Windows 8, Google will be “smoothing out the UI on Metro and improving touch support, so please feel free to file bugs,” Pizano wrote.
“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,” he concluded.
Google was sure to bring up the fact that the Windows on ARM version of the upcoming Windows 8 OS will not support browsers other than Internet Explorer. “Chrome won’t run in WinRT,” Pizano said simply.
Like the other versions of Windows 8, Windows RT will include two environments: the classic Windows interface and the more Windows Phone-esque Metro style option. Last month, however, Mozilla complained publicly that “Windows on ARM prohibits any browser except for Internet Explorer from running in the privileged ‘Windows Classic’ environment.” Google soon chimed in that it shared Mozilla’s concerns.
Microsoft has not commented on the controversy, but the Senate Judiciary Committee said it is examining whether Windows RT runs afoul of any antitrust regulations.
For more from Chloe, follow her on Twitter @ChloeAlbanesius.
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