Google delivers Metro Chrome preview

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

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Both would presumably bounce Chrome from Metro if the browser was distributed through the Windows Store, rather than as it is dispensed, as part of a download package to the Windows 8 desktop.

Microsoft's Metro app certification agreement -- which developers must follow to get the green light into the Windows Store -- specifically bans some of the things that the Chrome preview currently does.

"Your app must adhere to the Metro style app model," that agreement states.

But Google's deviations won't keep Chrome from Metro because Microsoft has given browser makers -- and only them -- a free pass.

Microsoft has allowed rival browser developers, including Google and Mozilla, access to the desktop's Win32 APIs (application programming interfaces) from within Metro on Windows 8.

The deal also lets browser vendors package the Metro versions with their desktop editions -- the former is more of a wrapper around Win32 code rather than a start-from-scratch Metro app -- which lets them sidestep the curated Windows Store, the sole distribution portal for Metro apps.

So while Microsoft's guidelines for Metro apps might bar Chrome from the store, Google doesn't have to follow those rules.

Google may also extensively modify Chrome on Metro before it declares the browser finished.

"Over the next few months, we'll be smoothing out the UI on Metro and improving touch support," said Carlos Pizano, a Google software engineer, in a blog post last week announcing the impending release of Chrome.

Google first acknowledged it was working on a Windows 8-specific version of Chrome in mid-March, about a month after rival Mozilla said the same about Firefox. But Google has now not only caught up, but also passed its rival; Firefox on Metro won't show in any form before mid-July, when Mozilla rolls out Firefox 14.

Users who want to try out Chrome's Metro browser can switch to the Dev channel by downloading the Windows edition from this page. They must also set Chrome as the default browser for it to show up on the Metro Start screen.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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