The Chrome Web Store, Google's mechanism to bring online services and features to users of its browser products, appears likely to launch shortly.
The online service is designed to let Chrome and Chrome OS users find, install, and potentially buy Web applications, similar in concept to what Google has done with its Android Market and to what Apple has done with its App Store. Chrome 8, which is in its final stages of development, is the first gateway.
"Chrome 8 is the first version that supports the Chrome Web Store," a Google programmer said in a discussion about Chrome 8 documentation. One element of that support likely will be a Chrome Web Store icon on the new page that appears when Chrome users fire up a new tab; it wouldn't be a good user experience, if the icon were there but were wired to an inert or missing Web site.
Google had hoped to launch the Chrome Web Store in October, but that didn't come to pass.
Here's how Google describes the Chrome Web Store on its Chrome Web Store developer pages: "The store's primary purpose is to help Google Chrome users find apps. It'll do this by supporting search, by providing browsable categories of apps, and by displaying lists of various kinds, both curated and autogenerated. User ratings and reviews will be used to rank apps."
There are three types of apps. First are "installable Web sites," which are regular Web sites augmented with some meta data; they can be run either as hosted apps located on a server or as packaged apps that are downloaded and installed.
Chrome is gaining in its share of browser usage overall. The software, while free, is not unimportant to Google's business. The company sees it as a vehicle to advance its agenda of making the Web faster and more powerful. The Chrome Web Store adds a new facet to that work, potentially making Google a gateway people use to find services on the Web.
One other feature you can expect in future Chrome versions is a built-in Adobe Systems' Flash Player that on Windows will be tucked into a sandbox where problems and security vulnerabilities are more confined.