Google delivers Metro Chrome preview

Ignores Metro design guidelines, but Microsoft has given browser makers a free pass

Google yesterday released its first preview of Chrome that runs in the Windows 8 Metro environment, making good on a promise from last week.

The browser, labeled 21.0.1171.0, shipped Monday to Google's "Dev" channel.

Google maintains multiple "channels," or versions of Chrome, with escalating levels of stability and reliability. Dev is the least stable and earliest public build, but others include "Beta" and "Stable," the last being Google's tag for a final, production-grade edition.

The company announced it would ship a Metro version of Chrome last Thursday, but at the time would not pin itself to a date.

After the new Dev version is installed, Chrome will run in both Windows 8's traditional x86/64 "desktop" mode -- the half that resembles Windows 7's user interface (UI) -- and in the tablet-, touch-centric "Metro" mode, where apps run in a full-screen, or at best, split view, with minimal UI gewgaws.

Under Microsoft's rules, a browser must be chosen as the operating system's default browser by the user to run in Metro.

Chrome in Metro also includes Flash, courtesy of Google's long-bundling of the Adobe software with the browser. That puts Chrome in the same category as Microsoft's own Internet Explorer 10 (IE10), which in Metro can also render Flash.

Even though Metro is supposed to be plug-in free, both Google and Microsoft have circumvented the rule by integrating Flash Player with their browsers.

Mozilla, which is working on a Metro-ized version of Firefox for Windows 8, and has blasted Microsoft for giving itself an unfair edge on Windows RT, had mixed thoughts on the trend.

"We think there should be equal access to platform capabilities and while we encourage healthy competition, believe there should be no circumstances that give any browser an unfair advantage," said Asa Dotzler, director of Firefox, in an email reply to questions about IE10's use of Flash last week. "[But] if other browsers can bring Flash or plug-ins in general to Metro, then it doesn't seem to be a problem. But that isn't clear at this time."

Dotzler comment was made before Google rolled out the Metro preview of Chrome with Flash included.

Chrome's deviations from the norm also include a decidedly different take on the Metro UI.

As others reported Monday -- including ZDNet blogger Ed Bott -- Google has seriously strayed from Microsoft's Metro design guidelines for Chrome, to the point where it puts up a desktop-like context-sensitive menu in lieu of the standard Metro app bar, and adds a full drop-down menu accessed by clicking on an icon in the upper right.

Chrome for Metro
The preview of Chrome on Metro supports the Windows 8 'Snap' feature, but deviates from the usual Metro UI.
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