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While celebrating the fifth birthday of Google Chrome, the company has announced a new wave of apps to turn its cloud- and web-based service into one that could soon challenge the likes of Windows and other desktop operating systems. 

Its Not All About the Cloud

 Up until now Google's fast-and-light OS has had a distinct cloud-centric feel with all apps running through the browsers and most data residing in the cloud. All with very little that could be termed a desktop. However, that changes as the OS grows up with a new app store opening up to serve apps that work offline and can be run from the desktop. 

They also look more like apps, with less of the "web" look to them, with all the dedicated features and functions you'd expect from any app. Sure, they can sync to the cloud, so you can open them up and keep right on going from where you were, but this is a major new move for the company.

The Chrome blog highlights a few example apps with image editors, to do lists and so on, all triggered from a new app launcher on the Chrome desktop. There's games and other diversions too, all running full screen with just the elements you need for the app. A dedicated app store is up and running for these offline apps. There are around 50 at present, with few big names, but if the utility level is right, expect those to follow. 

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Making a Bang on the Desktop

While things are starting out small for Google, this long-term project could move those Chrome notebooks from a niche to an increasing base of productive devices. It also looks like Google is moving further into Apple and Microsoft territory with a growing range of smart devices, even as Microsoft struggles with Windows 8 adoption and Apple remains in its own niche. 

Even as Apple looks to the next generation of devices, and Samsung tries to wow users with a smartwatch, there are still many millions of desktop users getting increasingly frustrated with Windows, unwilling to pay the perceived Apple tax and looking for an alternative that isn't Linux. Could Google find enough of a market here to become a rising force? 

There's little guarantee that Google will make a big impact on the desktop scene, especially with mobiles increasingly threatening the traditional desktop market. However, with a simple desktop, low overheads and cool hardware, this move is certainly one that will refocus attention on the notebook market and give hardware makers another avenue to explore, as more makers turn to Chrome devices.