Chromebook owners running the dev channel version of the operating system have just gotten a very big surprise - a brand new window manager with a dock, launchers and other things common to desktop OSes but uncommon to Chrome OS. It's up to users to judge whether the surprise is a nice one or not.
Chrome OS 2046.20.0, with Chrome 19.0.1048.17, comes with quite a few changes and updates to the dev channel.
Chief among them is the Aura window manager, but there are also others, like better multi-monitor support, new archive types supported, the new settings page and so on. Most of these other features were already available in the dev channel though, so the big change is Aura enabled by default.
Chrome OS started out on a simple premise, the pure web. All you got was Google Chrome, a maximized window that displayed the web page and as little else as possible.
But with Aura, the new Chrome OS window manager, more desktop-like features are possible. Dev channel users now get a dock at the bottom, Windows 7 style. There's a list of app icons, the same ones that would show up in the new tab page, the apps section.
There's also a shortcut to a launcher page of sorts, which, again, displays the Chrome web apps installed. For the first time though, there are resizable windows, which means there are wallpapers as well
, the ones we showed you a while back.
With Chrome 19 almost ready to move to the beta channel, the new window manager should be available to a lot more Chromebook users soon. Unless you're using an old Cr-48
, in which case you're out of luck.
Chrome 19 won't land on Cr-48 and, while Google says this doesn't mean it's game over for the first experimental Chromebooks, it's hard to see much of a future for the underpowered device. Even if Google manages to create a way for Aura to run on Cr-48, with Chrome 20 maybe, the devices will be declared EOL sooner rather than later.