Google is hard at work on a version of its Chrome browser that will work with Windows 8′s Metro environment. The Chromium blog recently announced that the next build of Chrome’s dev channel will run in both the Metro and desktop environments of Windows 8.
If you’d like to try it out a version of Chrome on Windows 8 once it’s available — most likely later today or perhaps over the weekend — you’ll need to switch over to the Chrome dev channel.
While Chrome will run in Windows 8′s Metro interface on desktop PCs, Google faces the same Microsoft platform restrictions Mozilla has spoken out against and as of now there will be no version of Chrome for WinRT, the version of Windows 8 designed to run on ARM processors.
Since WinRT is the most likely candidate for tablets that means any Windows 8 tablets will be Chrome-free.
Google has stopped short of being as vocal as Mozilla — which has called WinRT “a return to the digital dark ages. The Chromium blog merely notes that “Microsoft is not allowing browsers other than Internet Explorer on the platform,” though there is a link in that sentence to Mozilla’s original post decrying Microsoft’s restrictions.
The crux of Mozilla’s gripe — which Google seems to be tacitly endorsing as well — is that in Windows RT Microsoft gives its own Internet Explorer access to special APIs other web browsers can’t use.
Mozilla’s Asa Dotzler has previously pointed out that at least part of what makes this different than Apple’s iOS — which imposes similar restrictions on software — is that Microsoft still has binding agreements with the EU about browser choice on Windows, and Windows RT is still Windows.
It’s possible that Microsoft will change its mind about third-party web browsers on WinRT (or be legally compelled to change its mind) before any Windows 8 tablets arrive, but in the mean time at least you’ll soon be able to use Chrome with Windows 8 on desktop machines.