Chrome will become a new application distribution platform for any operating system - over time

What if a browser-based application can act in a desktop computer the same way as any regular application? Typically, browser based applications stay within the browser, and are launched inside the browser, while regular applications are launched through the regular desktop menubar or file system browser. Typically these worlds don't meet, but what if they did?

Over on Google+ a senior Chrome developer has announced a test feature for Google Chrome which will do exactly that. When this feature is ready for general use by everyone, this will be HUGE.

Why? Browser-based applications are easier to develop and can run across platform fairly easy. It means Google is creating a whole new channel through which developers can sell/provide applications. Through this channel, a developer can reach users on any computing platform where Chrome runs, and their application will run as a first-class citizen on the platform. The platform mix includes Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Chromebooks/Chromebox, and perhaps Android/iOS devices.

What the Chrome developer showed is that a Chrome app will now be able to associate with file types on Mac OS X. With the feature enabled, a Mac OS X user will be able to right click a file and see Chrome app's listed as an application with which to open the file.

The feature is only available in the developer-test build of Chrome (Canary), and to enable the feature you have to set a flag. Ergo, this is an experimental feature meant for developers and isn't (yet) ready for prime time.

While the feature is under limited distribution, and may seem like it's minor, this is a huge step. It's a significant step towards making Chrome applications a first class citizen, appearing in the application menu, appearing in the Finder, etc.