I have little love for the new generation of desktop interfaces, such as Windows 8 Metro. They use a smartphone/tablet like metaphor in which each application takes up the entire screen. So, why did I buy all these 20-inch and larger displays? Google, in the latest developer release of its Linux and cloud-based Chrome OS, has reversed this trend. This developer Chrome OS update adds a taskbar and support for multiple windows to its light-weight, desktop operating system.
This new interface, Aura, is both a new desktop window manager and shell environment. Aura is an optional replacement for last year’s Chrome OS single Web browser interface. With it you can have multiple, small browser windows, each with its own set of tabs, against a desktop screen background. These windows can be overlapped like the Windows on older desktops such as GNOME 2.x, Windows 7 or Mac OS X.
You also get, like OS X’s dock, a status bar on the bottom of the screen with icons for each of the open windows and system status displays for as the clock and battery. When you maximize a window to full screen, the task bar vanishes. You can always bring it back though by moving your pointer down to the screen’s bottom.