Google has pushed out a new version of its browser onto the developer channel, and with it we’re getting an interesting glimpse at the company’s next move to bring its Chrome-based operating system to a wider audience. Essentially, launching the browser within Windows 8’s Metro-style mode will bring up a multi-window interface, complete with a taskbar and app launcher that looks and feels a lot like Chrome OS.
As seen on the screenshot below, the bottom shelf contains an app launcher to the left next to Chrome, Gmail, Google, Docs, and YouTube icons for quick access. This shelf can also be snapped to the left or right of the screen while icons can be re-arranged or customized with other Chrome Apps. Once you launch an app you can have it run either in tabs or its own window, which you can move around or snap to the sides.
With the current stable release, launching Chrome within Windows 8’s Metro-style start screen simply brings up the desktop client in full screen mode. The upcoming version is still a full fledged desktop application; however, according to The Verge, it uses a special mode in Windows 8 that Microsoft has enabled specifically for web browsers allowing them to launch in the "Metro-style" environment providing they're set as default.
It’s unclear when the new feature will be graduated onto the stable channel but reports indicate it’s still a little buggy and it crashes occasionally. Google has yet to announce it on the official Chrome blog.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the company taking steps to extend its reach within Microsoft’s operating system. Back in July, it quietly launched its Chrome App Launcher for Windows, and with the introduction of packaged apps, desktop notifications and improved touch support for Chrome, Google is slowly building something that could be seen as a more serious threat to established desktop platforms.