Google And Windows 8, Working Together

Summary: Microsoft and Google are archrivals on the business front, but they share a lot of customers. It's a classic example of co-opetition. Surprisingly, Google services and Windows 8 apps work well together. Here's what you can expect when you connect Chrome, Gmail, and other Google products and services to Windows 8.

Google services and Windows 8 work surprisingly well together, once you know how to get things connected properly. In the case of Chrome, recent versions support both the Windows desktop and the Windows 8 (Metro) interface 
When Chrome is set at the default browser in Windows 8, you can pin web shortcuts (like Google Drive) to the Start screen. The icons on the tiles at the top are Metro style; the ones on the bottom are desktop style. 
This instance of Chrome is running on the Windows 8 desktop (the taskbar at the bottom is the biggest clue). An option on the Chrome menu, available in Chrome version 23, allows you to switch into Windows 8 (aka Metro) mode with a single click. 
In Windows 8 mode, note that the browser occupies the entire screen and can't be resized (except to snap it alongside one other Windows 8 app). The tabs look the same as in the desktop version, and you can switch back with an option on the Chrome menu
When you're running in Windows 8 mode, you can pin a shortcut to the Start screen using this option. 
This dialog box should be familiar to any Windows 8 user. It's identical to the one you see when you pin a favorite to Start when Internet Explorer is the default browser.

Chrome remembers your choice of Windows 8 (Metro style) or desktop. When you click a shortcut on the Start screen, you go to the environment you used most recently. 
Beginning with version 23, you can install extensions in Chrome on the desktop or in Windows 8 mode, and they'll be available in both places. A single profile lets you share bookmarks and other settings as well.
When you install Chrom, it offers to make itself the default browser. Don't be fooled. That option doesn't work with Windows 8. After installing Chrome, you need to go into this dialog box and click the Set this program as default option to enable Windows 8 mode for Chrome.
After you install Chrome version 23 or later on the desktop, you can choose the Relaunch Chrome in Windows 8 mode option from the menu. When you do, the program pops up this Windows 8-style default menu. If you choose Google Chrome, it becomes the default browser and is available in both modes.
After installing Google Chrome and setting it as default, you'll find that it's available on the menu under the Search box. Enter a search term and your request goes to the default search engine in Chrome (which doesn't have to be Google). 
The Windows 8 version of Chrome responds correctly to the Windows Settings charm. Clicking that charm opens this pane, and clicking Settings here opens the familiar Chrome page on the left.

From the Windows 8 Mail app (or from People or Calendar) you can connect your Google account. Click the Settings charm and then click Accounts to see this set of options, which includes Google. (You can connect multiple Google accounts.)
After entering your Google account name and password, be sure to click the check box under it so that you can sync contacts and calendar items along with mail. 
The Windows 8 Calendar app on the left is showing items from the Google calendar. The Mail app, on the right, is snapped along side, showing available folders in that account. Click any folder to see its contents and read new messages. Useing the app bar, you can pin any Gmail folder to the Start screen for quick access. 

Afrter connecting a Google account to Windows 8, information from that account is available to tiles on the Start screen. The Mail and Calendar tiles here show new Gmail messages and upcoming appointments from the connected Google calender.
Pressing Ctrl+N in the Mail app opens this Compose window, where you can create, format, and send a Gmail message without having to use the web browser. The To and Cc boxes can pull names and email addresses from your Gmail contacts list. 
One advantage of the lightweight Windows 8 Mail client is that you can configure it to show only recent messages. Click Settingts and choose your Gmail account to see these options.

The default setting is 2 weeks, although you can adjust that to a few days, a week, a month, or your entire mailbox. Note you can also create a custom signature. 
One big advantage of the Windows 8 app model is that it allows apps to share information with each other, using the Share API. In this case, I've opened a web page in the Windows 8 version of Chrome. I then used the Share charm to choose Mail, which opened this pane on the side with a link and thmbnail entered automatically.

Enter a recipient name, add some message text, and click or tap send. If you have other Windows 8 apps installed, including Twitter and Facebook clients, you can use them to share as well. If Google opens the Google+ API, it would make sharing possible via this route as well. 
Third-party apps can support other Google services. In the Windows Store now, you'll find multiple clients for accessing feeds from Google Reader in a touch-friendly visual way that doesn't require a browser. This app is a bargain at $2.99.
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