Windows 8 Update: Google's browser offers toe-hold for Chrome apps to lurk inside Windows 8

Google has managed to let Microsoft customers get a taste of Chrome OS with a new version of its Chrome Web browser that is tailored for Windows 8.

Google's Chrome browser embraces Windows 8 and its use of touch while at the same time enabling an experience similar to that of Chrome OS.

+ Also on Network World: HP takes Android over Chrome OS for new Slate 21 Pro all-in-one | LG embraces Chrome OS, announces all-in-one desktop | Quiz: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said what? +

Once installed on Windows 8, Chrome makes it possible to run Chrome apps within the browser in multiple windows that can be stacked.

The browser includes an app launcher that fires up applications bought at the Chrome Web Store.

So Google has successfully opened up a showroom within Windows 8 where customers can run Google apps alongside Windows 8 apps and where they can experience the two side-by-side on the same machine.

Windows 9

Windows 9 is on the way, scheduled to be available in the spring of 2015, according to a reliable Microsoft watcher.

A vision for the next major release of the desktop operating system will be presented this spring at Microsoft's developers' conference BUILD this April, according to Paul Thurrott's posting on his Supersite for Windows.

Windows 9, if that is what the name turns out to be, will include changes to the Windows design language that will make it possible for Windows Store apps, also commonly called Metro apps, to run on a traditional Windows desktop, according to Thurrott.

It will also bring back the full Start Menu, the loss of which users have been lamenting since Windows 8 first came on the scene.He says development of Windows 9 starts at the end of April, after the next expected upgrade of the current Windows 8.1 is released.Code name for Windows 9: Threshold.

Thurrott is also buries Windows 8, calling it a disaster, saying, "Windows 8 has set back Microsoft, and Windows, by years, and possibly for good." He assigns Windows 9 make-or-break power over the future of Windows.

Surface discount sales encourage Microsoft

Microsoft is pleased with some of the stats coming out about the sale of Surface tablets over the holidays.

In particular it likes the factoid that for Black Friday weekend, Surface was the single largest selling item in Best Buy. That was the same weekend the Surface RT normally $350 was selling for $200.

The discount prompted interest in Surfaces that were not discounted and in peripherals such as keyboards, the company says.

Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at tgreene@nww.com and follow him on Twitter@Tim_Greene.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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