Chrome 32 takes Windows 8.1 way beyond any Windows 8 app

Greg Shultz describes how to use Google Chrome 32 in Windows 8.1 to perform as a desktop browser and a modern app browser.



If you use Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 and are a Google fanatic, you're going to love the latest version of Chrome. It's a standard browser for the desktop; it's a browser app for the Start Screen; it's the Chrome OS; it's an oddity and much more, all in a neat little package. You really have to see it to believe it. I'll describe how to download, install, and use Google Chrome 32 in Windows 8.1.

Get Chrome 32

You don't have to go to the Windows Store to get the new Chrome. To get started, launch your current browser and go to the Google Chrome page. On the Chrome site, click the Download Chrome button (Figure A).

Figure A



Click the Download Chrome button.

When you see the Terms of Service page (Figure B), the first thing you should do is select the Set Google Chrome As My Default Browser check box. Chrome must be set as the default browser in order to perform its dual act as a desktop browser and a modern app browser. (Don't fret, though: If you later decide to return your current browser to its prominent position, you can do so quite easily.) If you want to send statistics and such to Google, you would select the second check box on that screen. To continue, click the Accept And Install button.

Figure B



Make Chrome your default browser.

I downloaded Chrome 32 from Internet Explorer, so during the Google Installer portion of the download operation, I encountered an Application Run - Security Warning, which basically informed me that Google wasn't to be trusted. I clicked Run anyway, and the download proceeded as normal (Figure C). As if the first warning wasn't enough, I had to work through a User Account Control (UAC) dialog box.

Figure C



You have to acknowledge that you accept the consequences of downloading the Google Installer.

Once you get through the UAC, Chrome will begin to download without any interference (Figure D).

Figure D



The actual Chrome download proceeds without any interference.

Install Chrome 32

As soon as the download is complete, you'll see a Toast notification that you have a new app that can open webpages (Figure E). While you do have a modern app that can open webpages, you won't find a Google tile on the Start Screen; instead, you'll find a Chrome icon embedded in the Taskbar right next to Internet Explorer and File Explorer (Figure F). You'll also find a Chrome shortcut on your desktop. 

Figure E



A Toast notifies you when the installation is complete.

Figure F



You'll find a Chrome icon embedded in the Taskbar.

When you click the Chrome icon, you'll see a Welcome dialog box that prompts you to click Next to choose your default browser. After clicking Next, you'll see a little pop-up that shows your choices (Figure G). I thought this was a bit weird since I already specified that I wanted Chrome to be my default browser, but I clicked the Chrome icon again.

Figure G



You need to specify again that you want Chrome to be your default browser.

Use Chrome 32

Chrome will launch in standard desktop mode and prompt you to enter your Gmail credentials (Figure H), so that everything associated with your Google account can be accessible from Chrome. After that, you can use Chrome in desktop mode to browse the web just like you always have.

Figure H



After you sign in, everything associated with your Google account can be made accessible from Chrome.

To move Chrome into windows app mode, click the Menu button and select Relaunch Chrome In Windows 8 Mode (Figure I).

Figure I



Select Relaunch Chrome In Windows 8 Mode to move out of desktop mode.

Chrome will transform itself into a Windows 8 app like you've never seen; in fact, it becomes more of a Chrome OS-like environment than just a simple app. This environment consists of a number of unique components and features that take it way beyond any Windows 8 app that you've seen, and it does so without adhering to any of the standardized Windows 8 app guidelines. Chrome offers unique features such as its own Start menu-like control complete with a Taskbar-like control called the Shelf, and it even supports multiple windows with Snap-like controls. 

You'll see the Chrome browser appear in the center of the full screen environment (Figure J), but it's not stuck there -- you can click the Title bar and drag a window anywhere on the screen that you want. Key features in this Chrome OS/Windows 8 app amalgamation are identified with number icons in the figure and described below.

Figure J



This is more of a Chrome OS-like environment than just a simple app.

  1. Hover over the button at the top right and you'll see a menu that allows you snap the window to the right or the left, complete with shadowed animations, minimize the window, as well as maximize the window.
  2. Click the button at the bottom left and you’ll see all the Google apps that you have installed. You can even search the Google app store from this menu.
  3. Right-click any app icon and you'll see a menu that allows you to configure how the app is to open. You can even pin icons to the Shelf.
  4. On the Shelf you'll find the icons of the pinned and running apps. The icons of minimized apps have a silver shadow under them.
  5. While the Shelf appears on the bottom edge of the environment, right clicking on the Shelf displays a menu that allows you to reposition the Shelf to any of the other edges.
  6. There's even a clock that appears in the lower right corner. Hover over it and you'll see the date.

While you can open any of the Google apps as tabs in the Chrome browser as you would in the desktop, in this environment, you can open any Google app in a separate window that you can move anywhere in the environment that you want (Figure K).

Figure K



You can open Google apps in separate windows that you can move anywhere.

While the inside of the Chrome environment functions independently from Windows 8, the environment itself has the same functionality as other apps. For example, you use the same drag down operation to close it. You can also snap the entire Chrome environment to one side of the screen and access other Windows 8 apps (Figure L).

Figure L



The entire Chrome environment acts like a regular Windows 8 app.

Stop Chrome 32

When you close the Chrome environment, anytime you launch it subsequently, it will instantly appear as a Windows 8 app. If you want it to go back to being just a desktop browser, click the Menu button in Chrome and select Relaunch Chrome On The Desktop. You can also return Chrome to a desktop browser by launching Internet Explorer, which will immediately prompt you to make it the default browser (Figure M). If you click the Set Default Browser button, Chrome will immediately return to a desktop browser, and Internet Explorer will take over as the default browser for both the desktop and the modern UI.

Figure M



Internet Explorer will immediately want to take back control of browser duty.

What's your take?

Have you used the new Chrome in Windows 8 or Windows 8.1? If so, has been your experience? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.



By Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.