Is there something wrong with the title of this article? May be. I am talking about Chrome running on Windows 8.1 metro mode. But it looks just like Chrome OS. It has the same user interface, and has Chrome Apps.
Meet Aura – The Magic Software that Turns Any OS in to Chrome OS
Allow me to use François Beaufort‘s little write up on what Aura is.
Aura is the (not so) new UI stack that we use in Chrome OS. It does not use native widgets for controls and it fully uses the GPU when available. Compared with the traditional UI stack as seen in Chrome 28 or 29, the only native element is the top level window. Everything else is drawn by Chrome, composited by the Chrome Compositor and uses Angle/GPU to present to the screen. Focus/Activation and in general input ins managed differently as well.
Q:Why are we doing this?
A:Because we want to unify the UI stack across platforms. The end result is that Windows, Linux and Chrome OS will use the same UI stack while today each have a different one. Along the way we gain much flexibility to do fluid UI animations; the kind you can see today in Chrome OS shell.
In short, it is the magic wand that turns Windows and Linux in to Chrome OS, making users feel like “Alice in Wonderland” (or Google land)
Windows 8.1 Metro Mode + Aura = Chrome OS on Windows
If you are running Google Chrome on Metro Mode on Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 (which I am using now), you get in to Chrome OS like environment, thanks to Aura.
Only thing missing (at least on the front-end) is the wallpaper. I don’t that is far away, because there is already a placeholder (grey color) for wallpaper. When Chrome OS starts syncing your Wallpaper, it will sync here too.
For now, I get:
- Multiple windows, including incognito
- Re-size windows and move them around just like Chrome OS
- Apps menu
- Apps shelf (or the task bar)
- Settings menu on bottom-right-corner (where I get a Chrome OS like “restart to update” message), and a power down (!!) icon.
- A nice feeling, because I love Chrome OS.
Aura has been in the works for more than a year now. I remember seeing this back in 2011. It makes complete sense now why Google has put in a lot of on this project.
Packaged Apps to Fill the Gap
When Google puts Chrome OS as a Windows 8 app, there will be things missing from the true Chromebook experience. There are a few things that they cannot do anything directly, like the insane boot speed and the instant wake up. But there are a few things that they can fix with packaged apps.
Take the example of the Files app in Chrome OS which works as the “My Computer” of Chrome OS. It is available only on Chromebooks. But if Google wants, they can do a packaged app for the Chrome platform and that will take care of it on Windows 8 too. They can use the Android strategy of publishing stock Android apps to Play Store to reduce OS fragmentation.
Things are getting hot. You guys will agree when you try this out for yourself. (Give it a few more weeks, and this will land on beta/stable channels.