Google Chrome Now Lets You Install PWAs As Regular Apps on Windows 10

Posted on October 16, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Google, Windows 10 with 53 Comments

Google today started shipping Chrome 70 on Windows. The latest upgrade to Chrome brings a major new feature: support for desktop progressive web apps or PWAs.

With desktop PWA support, Chrome now lets users install PWAs as regular apps on Windows 10. You can, for example, install Starbuck’s PWA app as an app from the Chrome menu and it will then show up on the Start Menu in Windows 10. You can then launch the app as a regular app, add it to your desktop, or pin it to your taskbar for quick access. And with Chrome now using Windows 10’s native notifications and the Action Centre, these apps won’t feel any different from regular Windows 10 apps.

When you open a desktop PWA, it doesn’t have an address bar like Chrome — instead, it appears to be a native Windows app. As long as a PWA meets the “standard” criteria, these apps will work seamlessly once installed and look almost exactly like native apps in Windows which is pretty cool.

“Desktop progressive web apps can be ‘installed’ on the user’s device much like native apps. They’re fast. Feel integrated because they launched in the same way as other apps, and run in an app window, without an address bar or tabs. They’re reliable because service workers can cache all of the assets they need to run. And they create an engaging experience for users,” Google noted in a page outlining desktop PWAs. The support for desktop PWAs is expected to arrive on Mac and Linux with Chrome 72, with Google’s own Chrome OS supporting it since Chrome 67.

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Comments (53)

53 responses to “Google Chrome Now Lets You Install PWAs As Regular Apps on Windows 10”

  1. Atoqir

    Also love the native Picture in picture player when you click a YouTube video twice.

    I love this operati...euh browser :)

    This video also has a neat URL to get the Spotify PWA

    Just surf to and install it

  2. fbman

    Looks impressive, still will not use chrome though.

    I will stick to firefox.

  3. lalit12

    I think "win" is a bit of an exaggeration. It doesn't really add much value. As far as syncing PWAs is concerned, there's a big difference between syncing within Chrome or Chrome apps across multiple computers and sticking things in the Start Menu automatically across multiple computers.

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  4. lalit12

    <a href="">Funny WiFi Nammes</a>

  5. skane2600

    So what advantage does a PWA Starbucks app have over just using a browser on a Windows PC? Browser bookmarks seem to fulfill the same role as the Start Menu.

    In fact, unless these "installations" can be synced across multiple Windows PCs the way Chrome bookmarks can, it's actually a weaker solution.

    • nbplopes

      In reply to skane2600:

      PWA is more of a dev thing not a user thing. The benefit for the dev is flexibility and cross platform support. It’s more flexible than a regular web app tech as it allows the deployment of off browser web apps and access to system resources that could not within the web browser.

      in fact I think edge is better positioned to support PWAs as MS can provide devs access to inking and many other Windows centric features to PWAs devs.

      Entice them to build PWA apps that Engage user better in Windows than in any other OS. But MS as always seams to be way off base.

    • behindmyscreen

      In reply to skane2600:

      PWAs support the services provided by Windows, webpages do not.

    • SvenJ

      In reply to skane2600: They support the genre of people who prefer an app to do their business. Yes a browser bookmark/favorite works in much the same way, but if you are like many you have a ton of these, variably organized. If you just want to get that Starbucks order placed, tapping the app, recent orders, do this again, just like you would on your phone is convenient and familiar. Same with the State road conditions site, or your company time system, if they are created as PWAs. There is an entire demographic that believes if their isn't an app, it just isn't.

      • skane2600

        In reply to SvenJ:

        You fill up the browser with bookmarks, you fill up the Start Menu with PWAs and programs, it's essentially they same problem.

        Even on mobile, I doubt there are many people who say "There's no app so I guess there's no way to figure out what the State road conditions are. I wonder what this multicolored round icon with blue in the middle is for?"

        On Windows and the Mac, I think it's safe to say nobody takes this "app or nothing" approach.

        • Davor Radman

          In reply to skane2600:

          There is something to be said about loading speed as well.

          I believe PWAs should load faster?

          And there are notifications. For example, if there was a gmail pwa, I can have it minimized with notifications.

          If it was in a browser, I'd have to keep it open to have notifications, and it sometimes gets in the way.

          • skane2600

            In reply to Markiz von Schnitzel:

            PWAs either have to be at least partially running in the background or if not, have to be loaded from disk or RAM. Running in the background or preserved in RAM requires system resources be consumed. Whether that is faster than loading a web page depends on the specific "app".

            Gmail in the browser already supports notifications, so there's no advantage to PWAs in that respect. A gmail browser page can be separated and minimized so that it isn't "in the way".

      • anchovylover

        In reply to SvenJ:

        "They support the genre of people who prefer an app to do their business"

        Hasn't the lukewarm response to the MS Store taught us anything? On the desktop most users use traditional desktop programs to this day. It seems to this point desktop users aren't interested in apps.

  6. Davor Radman

    So what are some of those apps i can try? Any google services?

  7. Rob_Wade

    Well, there's no universe where I install Chrome.

  8. Angusmatheson

    It seems to me that PWAs hurt windows as much as helps it. True that PWA will allows windows to have modern apps written and updated that work on it. Given the problems with poor app development for windows phone and universal windows apps it makes sense for windows to want this. It does give windows a foothold in the future. However, the reason people choose windows are 1) legacy programs written years ago and not rewritten 2) familiar to many users 3) general ubiquity and assume chioce as a “real computer.” (And PC gaming - and interesting group who has been the loudest defenders of windows but until recently all but ignored by Microsoft). I don’t see how PWA help stop windows decline. 1) as legacy programs are rewritten they are not being rewritten in x86. But even if rewritten in PWA - they can be used on ChromeOS, Linux, iOS, MacOS, Android and whoever else comes along after. The more PWA and adopted, the less the windows lock in is. 2) PWA work the same everywhere so familiarity with Windows from the past will become increasingly unimportant as PWA from all platforms look and work the same and 3) if PWA take off al devices from iPhones to chromebooks will run the same programs as the windows “real computer” My EMR is a Webapp and it’s is brilliant. I believe the PWA are fantastic for users and developers because they break down lock-in. I suspect that directly writing to the OS will always make a faster cleaner program - but for most things in the modern computing age I don’t think that will matter. I suspect that wide adoption of WPA will only speed the decline of Windows as a computing platform. If only Microsoft had a modern OS like windows phone 7 that could fully take advantage of this PWA future.

    • skane2600

      In reply to Angusmatheson:

      "PWA work the same everywhere"

      They said the same thing about Java. They said the same thing about web apps. Perhaps we should wait until PWAs have a significant presence before concluding that they are truly cross-platform or that they are going to eliminate Windows "lock-in".

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to skane2600:

        . . . They said the same thing about web apps. . . .

        From the POV of a user, I haven't seen any differences using Google Sheets under Windows, Linux or Chrome OS (other than path naming and existing directories, but that's to be expected under different OSes). Nor using IE, Chrome, Firefox, Waterfox or Opera as the browser in which it's running.

        Seems close enough to use the word same to describe it.

      • nbplopes

        In reply to skane2600:

        Web apps work the same everywhere.

  9. Skolvikings

    My daughter logged into her Chromebook last night and pulled up Spotify in a browser. Out of curiosity, I asked to take a look at it... sure enough, Spotify's web player is a PWA. I installed it on her Chromebook and now she has a Spotify app. It's pretty cool actually.

  10. mruszczyk

    Is anyone seeing this work for Tweetdeck? I am not seeing the install option.

  11. thespecificocean

    It's baffling that Edge has not added this feature yet. Again, MS is already behind :/

  12. Silversee

    Embarrassing that Google beat Microsoft to delivering this feature on Windows 10, especially with Edge aggressively supporting PWAs. Microsoft's approach seems to be about getting these apps into the Store. When this works it can be briliant (see Twitter), but they are going about it so slowly. Microsoft seems to have lost the ability to evangelize developers.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Silversee:

      How aggressively is Edge supporting PWAs if Google Chrome is 1st to support them?

      As for developers, I figure they have their own assessments of just now necessary or not the MSFT Store is, and it's probably not lost on them that most enterprises block users from the MSFT Store, so figure by Windows 7 EOS only about half of Windows users would be able to access the MSFT Store, and fewer than that would actually visit it even once a month.

      As for PWAs specifically, how many of them are Windows-specific rather than able to run under Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS, Android, iOS? How many PWA developers would limit themselves to focusing on Windows? Or consider usage: would a given PWA be more likely to be adopted by 10 million Windows users or 10 million Android users?

      • SvenJ

        In reply to hrlngrv: I think it is more correct to say MS and Windows 10 are aggressively supporting PWAs. As mentioned, there are PWAs in the store already, but the average user would be hard pressed to recognize them as such. If Edge had the facility to visit a site and install/load/convert that site to a PWA, that would have been a significant win. Now, it's also ran.
        PWA's are sort of by definition cross platform. While not having the chrome of the browser, they essentially run in the browser engine. So the Twitter app is running using the Edge engine, while looking like an app. It theoretically should be able to run in the Chrome engine as well, since it is web 'code'.

    • anchovylover

      In reply to Silversee:

      Edge still flounders at 4% despite being the default browser of around 700 million W10 devices.

      Surely it's time to disregard Edge in any serious discussion regarding W10. Edge is an utter embarrassment for MS.

    • FalseAgent

      In reply to Silversee:

      what the fuck? The Twitter app in the store is a PWA, has been for MONTHS. How did Google "beat" Microsoft to it in any sense?

    • behindmyscreen

      In reply to Silversee:

      huh? Windows 10 supported PWAs in the spring. That means Edge supports them. Installing them from Edge vs the store is what you are talking about and it doesn't even matter.

  13. Ron Diaz

    Is it true that Windows 10 is going to be rebranded as Microsoft Chrome Launcher?

  14. Stokkolm

    This is how Google migrates people to Chrome OS. They're literally a Trojan Horse within Windows. I would bet in a years time, Chrome "apps" will be more popular than any app from the official MS App Store.

  15. lordbaal1

    That Starbucks app looks likes crap.