updated 08:00 am EDT, Tue April 10, 2012
Chrome OS Aura drops pure web metaphor
Google's latest developer channel release for Chrome OS has revealed pressure to bring it back to more of a traditional desktop. A new window manager, Aura, now gives it a Windows-like taskbar ("shelf") and multiple windows, much like the conventional operating system it was hoping to avoid. A button on the taskbar now invokes a full-screen app launcher much like Apple's Launchpad in OS X Lion.
Some elements of the Chrome OS experience persist, such as the web app focus and opening new apps in tabs rather than windows. The update is also meant to improve some core experiences, such as better multi-display setups and opening less common compression formats like BZIP2, GZ, and TAR.
The software is likely to get a more public outing at the Google I/O conference in late June, likely alongside new Chromebooks.
For Google, the inclusion of Aura may be an acknowledgment that Chrome OS hasn't resonated with the public as it first hoped when the OS was launched in 2011. Neither Google nor its hardware partners have outlined sales, but rumors have surfaced of particularly slow sales in early days and of generally low uptake. The inability to do certain basic tasks associated with a desktop OS, such as running two apps side-by-side, has led to some seeing Chrome OS as a worst-of-both-worlds where users neither have the flexibility of a conventional Mac or Windows notebook nor the portability and intuitiveness of a tablet. [via TechCrunch]