Windows users can now download and enable the Chrome App Launcher, giving them instant access to common Web-based Google services such as the Chrome browser, Gmail, Google Drive and the Chrome store.
It’s essentially a shortcut to the landing page on the Chrome browser, which shows a horizontal grid of large, brightly colored icons for accessing extensions and other useful Chrome apps. The new launcher, spotted by Engadget, was originally built for Chrome OS as a way of promoting Google’s own services and replicating some of the functionality found in the taskbar or dock of a traditional desktop operating system.
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Given Google’s expansion of Chrome as a wider, more fully-featured platform, as well as its desire to move more users into the cloud, its subsequent expansion onto Windows is therefore justified. While many users still choose native Windows apps over Chrome apps – services such as Google Drive and TweetDeck spring to mind – the new Chrome App Launcher certainly removes some of the perceived friction.
It works as one would expect; a square icon resides in the taskbar, on the start page and as a desktop icon for Windows 7 and Windows 8. A single click brings up a small tray of installed Chrome apps and services, and there’s also a search bar at the top for power users.
Google is working on porting the App Launcher to OS X too, given that it showed up in a Chromium release back in May. Before that, the launcher was spotted in the Chrome dev channel for Windows in February this year, confirming that a version was also in development for OS X and Linux.