I love trying out new software, particularly new operating systems. I’ve run every version of Windows from 95 to 8.1, dozens of Linux distributions, and even got OS X running on most of my machines over the years. There’s one big – and growing – OS that I haven’t been able to try, though – Chrome OS!
The lightweight operating system, based on Linux and built by Google as an extension of their Chrome browser, is harder to install than you’d expect. Now though, things are much easier – because Google has brought Chrome OS to Windows 8.
That sounds kind of weird, so let me explain. On Windows 8 you can run Chrome as a Windows 8 (“Metro”) application, or a normal classic Windows one; you can switch from mode to mode at any point. In the most recent update to Chrome, Google has essentially turned the Windows 8 mode into the full-blown Chrome OS.
You’ll get the Chrome app launcher in the lower left, and a shelf along the bottom of the screen with various Chrome apps on it (like Gmail, Play Music or Drive). You’ll be able to create multiple browser windows, snap them left or right, or maximise them. Chrome in the new mode is also pretty touch-friendly, too, making it ideal for use on a Windows 8 tablet or all-in-one.
It’s all basically identical to how Chrome OS operates on a bona fide Chromebook, which is a testament to both the simplicity of Chrome OS and the totality of Google’s efforts in bringing the OS to Windows 8. It’s nice enough that I’ve switched to using the Windows 8 mode full-time, which I’ve never before managed for more than a few hours.
If you’re interested in trying out Chrome OS before committing to a Chromebook or just to have a play, then it’s well worth a look. Just install the latest version of Chrome, then go to ‘relaunch Chrome in Windows 8 mode’ in the menu. Have fun!