Google Gearing Up For A Chrome Web Store Launch (For Real This Time)

Back in August, at a conference in Europe, Google showed a little preview of the Chrome Web Store and noted that a launch would probably take place in October. While there were some hints of it coming along in October (including some pricing details that were apparently turned on by accident), it never came. And since today is the last day of November, I think it’s safe to say it’s not coming this month either. But it now definitely appears that Google is ramping up for an early December launch of the store, perhaps alongside a Chrome 8 release or a Chrome 9 beta release.

Earlier today, there was a flurry of activity in the Chromium Issues list. Specifically, there was a lot of activity surrounding the “ReleaseBlock” labeled items. And if you look them over, you’ll notice that most of these 16 issues are related to the Web Store or Chrome Apps in some way. Google appears to be tying up loose ends to get this product out the door as soon as possible.

So what’s being worked on? Well, first of all, as you can see above, Google has created a new logo for the Web Store. This logo has already made it into the latest builds of Chromium, and should trickle in the dev channel of Chrome shortly. Further, a Chrome Apps promo to be shown in the browser is now just about complete — they’re just fixing some bugs with it.

Meanwhile, Google is trying to finish updating the documents detailing what’s new with extensions. Extensions are going to be a part of the Web Store (alongside themes and apps), so the fact that they’re getting the documentation ready is another good sign that a launch is very close.

Another pretty big feature being worked on is the ability to create desktop shortcuts for apps. You would be able to right click on an app in Chrome and create a desktop shortcut for it. The coding work on this appears to be done and it’s now being implemented.

Google is also doing some last-minute work on some new API features for the Omnibox, including some sort of new Chrome Search extension.

A bigger change that is only going to apparently be enabled behind a flag in Chrome 9 is the ability to create apps without using the crx format. This is now slated as a M10 feature. One problem with crx (which current Chrome extensions use) is that they’re limited to 10 MB in size.

Given that these things are labeled as “M9” blockers, it’s not clear if Google will launch the Chrome Web Store as a feature of Chrome 9 in beta, or Chrome 8 in stable release. Chrome 7 is currently the latest stable release of the browser, while Chrome 8 is in beta, and Chrome 9 is in the dev channel. Again, you can probably expect the company to shift those all up shortly. This may even happen as soon as early next week, which would be in line with what MediaMemo reported a month ago.

The Chrome Web Store is also expected to be a key part of Chrome OS, so it makes sense that Google would want to get it out there first in Chrome, then roll out the first versions of Chrome OS, still slated to hit before the end of the year.