Yesterday Venturebeat wrote an article about a Windows metro style version of Google chrome – and many other websites followed with enthusiastic comments. But is Google Chrome really a true metro-App? I’m in doubt.
Ok, to be fair, I also wrote an article about that thing (just in German) and explained the bells and whistles to enable chrome in metro. But after publishing I asked me “how could it be, that Google installed a windows application, and we also got a metro-app?”. And “why in hell they don’t support metro app-bar and other things offered by metro framework and run time system”?
First I thought “huh, the Google guys are pretty smart and found a way that MS doesn’t told us”. And then I stumbled upon an observation in winunleaked.info forum. A metro app with minimize and closing button?
Ups, Chrome a metro-app with closing button?
Time, to run my own tests. All I did, was login to my Google account, go to chrome settings and select a theme. And then I got this view:
Voilá, something like a ordinary Windows application, but shown in front of start screen (not as a windowed version on Windows desktop). Using the minimize button, I ended with this view:
Remembers me about Windows 3.1 minimized windows. I was able, to minimize, restore und close this “metro-app” – a feature, that wasn’t available in true metro apps.
Ask task manager
Then I launched a metro-app Mail and invoked the Windows task manager. Well, task manager showed on process tab several Google Chrome processes, along with my mail app process. The mail app and one Google Chrome process was suspended.
Then I opened the context menu of the suspended Mail app and selected the command to go to the details tab. Here is, what I got so far (all screenshots are taken with a German Windows 8).
The Mail app runs in address space of process WWAHost.exe – the host that controls execution of metro apps. That’s what I estimated.
In a 2nd step I switched back to process tab and selected the suspended Google Chrome process entry. After using the context menu to switch over to details tab, I got this view:
Obviously several Chrome tasks are running as windows processes – and not as childs of WWAHost.exe. In a next step I used Process Explorer from sysinternals to inspect all processes.
And then the nasty secrets came into light: Google Chrome isn’t a metro app – it’s a Windows application, that runs beside WWAHost.exe – but it comes with a look (not a behavior) like a metro app. Google developers was clever enough, to find out, how to act in this way.
But after that finding, it seems to me clear, why metro Google Chrome doesn’t support app bar or similar metro features. Maybe I misinterpreted things or I’m simply wrong. But what I’ve found so far, is a nasty and tricky workaround, that Google’s developers are using to run Google Chrome as a metro style app.
I haven’t analyzed it, maybe IE will use the same trick. It doesn’t matters – if this is the way things are progressing, it will be the end of Windows 8. Because as a user I won’t struggle with metro-style browsers and the fact, that only the default browser wins and will be useable as metro browser.
Update: I came just across this indian site, that expresses a few more thoughts. I’m eager to see, what Google has in stock during the next months – because, it’s odd, how they did it in the first shot.
Any other thoughts about that?