Google’s Chrome operating system is not exactly the company’s most popular product these days, but the search giant is working hard to change that. The latest developer version of Chrome OS is more than an ordinary maintenance update, heavily modifying the operating system to make it look more like a full fledged OS, like Windows or OS X, and less like a simple browser, as things were until now.
Aura is the name of Chrome’s new user interface framework and, aside from making the operating system look better, it also adds some significant features. You can now open an app through a Launchpad-like app launcher, and not by opening a browser tab and then looking for the app you wanted to start, as you needed to do in the OS’ previous versions.
There’s also a taskbar that looks extremely similar to the one found on Windows, which allows you to launch and monitor running applications in the latest Chrome OS version. Google is calling it a “shelf” in a somewhat desperate attempt to be original, but, as far as I’m concerned, this is an obvious effort to drive Chrome towards Windows’ look and functionality.
On the other hand, Google’s Chrome OS still doesn’t behave like a “regular” operating system and opens programs in browser tabs, unlike the stand-alone windows that Microsoft’s derives its name from.
Other updates include support for files compressed in the tar, gz, and bzip2 formats, as well as better support for multi-monitor setups. All in all, it seems that Google has decided to give up trying (at least to some extent) to make users “re-think what operating systems should be”, as they stated a while back, and try to draw more users towards Chrome OS by offering a familiar, yet slightly tweaked, experience.
It remains to be seen whether Google will manage to increase the operating system’s popularity with this update. For the time being, I, for one, think it looks better than before and that it’s a welcomed change, even though it might seem like admitting defeat in the battle against Windows.