Has anyone ever been to the Chrome Web Store lately? I know that it is the default method for installing applications on a Google Chromebook, but did you know that the Chrome Web Store can be used to install applications within the Google Chrome browser on a PC, Mac, or Linux machine? Google is even experimenting with developing stand alone applications that run outside Google Chrome, though it is unclear whether those applications still need Chrome to be installed on a machine for them to work.
While a Google Chromebook is a cheaper computer to purchase than your average PC, Mac, or Linux desktop, laptop, or netbook, for most users the Chrome Web Store offers them to explore the possibilities of what Chrome OS would look like without spending $199 on a new computer. At the same time, the Chrome Web Store is a good look at the future of software distribution; app stores in which software is centralized, developers can sell new software for a few dollars, the company who developed the app store can make a profit and software works on a different “engine” than traditional computer software does, in the sandbox of a web browser.
App stores for the desktop are the primary means through which software is distributed on Linux computers, and Android Market, the initial implementation of Google Play, was a natural extension of those early efforts. However, the Windows Store for Windows 8 is the first true implementation of an app store on Windows outside of efforts supported through web browsers like Google Chrome, Opera and Firefox .
In Google Chrome, apps downloaded through the Chrome Web Store appear as another instance of Google Chrome in the task manager. Some apps show up as an extra tab in Google Chrome, as they merely invoke websites one could type in the address to and access directly but other apps show up as their own application outside of Google Chrome. Close Google Chrome, and the applications are still open and maintain complete and total functionality.
App stores also detail the ways in which computing has changed from the days of the full fledged applications that were installed into the kernal or registry of computers several years ago. Web applications leave an extremely small footprint, and are virtually “invisible” to the operating system, whereas applications that are installed on the computer (as opposed to being installed within a browser) can take up a lot of room on the hard drive and utilize a lot of resources.
Without app stores, users would have to navigate to web pages and attempt to install software that may or may not be compatible with their computer. With app stores, users are only shown applications that are compatible with their system; the Windows Store will not show applications that are incapable of running on a user’s computer. Some of the apps in the Chrome Web Store are actually useful, many of them are not; one thing that is for certain, Microsoft should open up their own app store to users running versions of Windows other than Windows 8, to show users what they can expect from Windows 8 apps before they make the purchase. The last three versions of Windows have the same memory requirements, so there is no reason why apps from the Windows Store could not work on Windows Vista and Windows 7.