Let the games begin!

Every year, lots of people have fun tracking Santa as he takes flight around the world to deliver gifts. This year, Santa is getting some help from the Chrome Web Store elves who have already started delivering the gifts of gaming to more than 200 million Chrome users.

The first gift of the season is Bejeweled. Bejeweled is one of the most successful online games of all time; the brand new Chrome edition features Classic and Speed modes and flaunts impressive new visual effects created with HTML5.

For those of you who love action games, we have another special gift: Bastion, the award winning role-playing game (RPG) is now available exclusively in the Chrome Web Store. Featuring stunning hand-painted artwork and action-packed combat, Bastion has already destroyed the productivity in our office.

Bastion is part of a set of new games coming to the web for the first time, thanks to Native Client - a new technology that enables console-quality games on the web. You can check out Sleepy Jack, Pocket Legends, and more of these new and upcoming games in the video below.

Finally, several other Chrome Web Store favorites have holiday updates of their own. Angry Birds features many new holiday-themed levels and Cargo Bridge has released a special Christmas level edition.

Discover these and thousands of other games in the Chrome Web Store.

Posted by Christos Apartoglou, Product Marketing Manager

Eggnog, mistletoe and... pigs?

With the help of the Angry Birds team, we’ve cooked up a few early holiday presents for you.

Starting today, you can play a new episode of your favorite game, with 42 exciting levels. And if you are handy with the slingshot, you’ll also be able to find a few new hidden Chrome dimension levels.

In addition, you can check out the first of an additional set of 25 holiday-themed Angry Birds levels. A different level will be unlocked every day until December 25th. There are also three Chrome-exclusive holiday levels that you can unlock with a secret password.

The password will be hidden inside a few apps that can be installed from the Chrome Web Store: Astrid, Earbits, Elfster, Good Food, Google Books and Hipmunk. Follow us on Google+ for some useful hints on how to uncover these magic passwords ;)

And finally, don’t worry if you get stuck on a tough level; you can now summon the Mighty Eagle to the rescue from within Angry Birds. Just click the Eagle icon at the top and turn all pigs into bacon.

Not using Chrome but still want to play? Install Chrome with Angry Birds and make sure those pigs get only coal this year.

Chrome Web Store expands its borders

Nine months ago, we launched the Chrome Web Store in the United States. Since then, the store has gained a lot of momentum and is now home to an ever increasing selection of apps, extensions and themes.

Today, we’re expanding and making the store available in 24 more countries: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

If you are based in these initial 24 countries, you’ll find it much easier to discover and add new apps, extensions, and themes to Chrome, across a variety of categories—from games to news to productivity tools. In most countries, for apps that require a fee, you’ll now be able to complete the entire transaction in your local currency. Starting today, you’ll also be able to access a range of new applications from international developers and publishers. Enjoy viewing beautiful artwork collections from UK museums, get weather updates from Brazil or browse the latest film releases in France.

To try these new apps, as well as tens of thousands of items in the store, download Google Chrome and visit the Chrome Web Store.

The computer that keeps getting better...

One of the things that excites us about Chromebooks is that unlike other computers, the user experience automatically gets better over time. For instance, with this week's latest stable release of Chrome OS, users may notice their Chromebooks now resume even more quickly – 32% faster in most cases. For those of you who like watching movies and TV shows on your Chromebook, you now also have the option to do so using Netflix. If you'd rather enjoy a good read, you’ll be able to fire up the Amazon’s new Kindle Cloud Reader app, read your favorite books and even take them offline when you’re not connected. If you need to print, you can give trees a break and use the Print to Docs feature with Google Cloud Print instead.

For businesses and schools, we also have a host of new features launching this week. If you use Citrix in your organization, you can now install the Citrix Receiver Tech Preview app from the Chrome Web Store to access desktop software such as Adobe® Photoshop® directly from your Chromebook. In addition, this latest release brings VPN and secure Wi-Fi support (802.1X).

Along with these new features, our recent update delivers many bug fixes and improvements under the hood. Chromebook users should automatically get this release this week. As a consumer, business or school, all you need to do is relax and let your Chromebook do the work. We hope you enjoy the experience of a computer that keeps getting better.

Update 8/10: Added link to more information on Print to Docs feature

Update 8/11: Updated link to new Google Cloud Print site

Preparing for basketball madness with the Chrome Web Store

For those of you who follow college basketball in the US, today is National Bracket Day where millions are frantically filling out their brackets and preparing to follow their favorite teams' bids to the national college basketball championship. Luckily, I can use apps from the Chrome Web Store to help me follow the tournament like a pro.

Whether you're a loyal fan of your alma mater or college basketball powerhouses, you can get the most current news, scores, videos and photos all in one place with apps like FanFeedr and LockerPulse.

If you're watching multiple games at once, don't miss an upset with Are You Watching This?! Sports. This app shows you a scoreboard of all games you care about happening right now. You can also create personalized TV channel lineups for local cable and satellite TV providers that are automatically adjusted to your time zone.

You can even relive some of the best plays of the tournament with photos delivered by the Sports Illustrated Snapshot and create your own channels around your favorite college basketball teams.

These are just a few apps to help you stay on top of your games and bracket. You can find these and more sports apps in the Chrome Web Store or learn how other Google products can enhance your game experience on www.google.com/collegebasketball2011.

A dash of speed, 3D and apps

Today, we’re excited to bring several new features from Chrome’s beta channel to the stable build, including WebGL, Chrome Instant, and the Chrome Web Store.

WebGL is a new technology which brings hardware-accelerated 3D graphics to the browser. With WebGL in Chrome, you can experience rich 3D experiences right inside the browser with no need for additional software. Curious about the three-dimensional possibilities? Try out these demos to experience the power of WebGL in the latest stable version of Chrome.

With Chrome Instant (à la Google Instant), web pages that you frequently visit will begin loading as soon as you start typing the URL. (“Look, Mom - no enter key!”). If supported by your default search engine, search results appear instantly as you type queries in the omnibox. To try out Instant, you’ll need to enable it in the Basics tab of Chrome’s options.

Lastly, the Chrome Web Store is now open to all Chrome users in the United States. As part of this, we’ve now added a link to the Chrome Web Store on the New Tab page, along with two sample apps. (If you don’t use these sample apps, they will automatically disappear after some time).

Some of the newest additions in the Chrome Web Store include BBC GoodFood, Autodesk, Sesame Street, nine King.com Games and Marvel Comics. There are also many apps that take advantage of the latest web technologies to deliver an immersive experience, such as Tweetdeck and The New York Times. While the store is currently only available for Chrome users in the U.S., we’re working hard to expand availability to users around the world soon, so stay tuned!

Living on the web with the Chrome Web Store (and the Cr-48!)

Since we opened the Chrome Web Store last month, I’ve made it a daily habit to check out the store for new applications. Each time, I’ve discovered new things I can do on the web that work just as well as and often better than software I had to install and maintain on my computer -- such as playing games, listening to music, or getting work done. Living on the web is much easier than you might think!

If you already live on the web and are itching to get your hands on a Chrome notebook, we’ve teamed up with a few Web Store apps for a chance to test-pilot the Cr-48. Check out blogposts from MOG, Box, LucidChart, and Zoho for more details. Then go ahead and rock out with 10 million songs, manage your files in the cloud, perfect your diagram drawing skills, or move your office onto the web. While you’re at it, you might also discover a new favorite app among the more than 2,000 apps in the Chrome Web Store.

Have fun!

Appy Holidays from the Chrome Web Store

The winter holidays are my favorite time of the year: I get to spend quality time with friends and family and eat lots of delicious food. However, between booking airplane tickets, sending greeting cards and looking for the perfect gifts, the pre-holiday season can be busy...and even a bit stressful. This year though, I feel much more in control thanks to the apps I discovered in the Chrome Web Store’s Holiday collection.

If you are looking for last minute holiday gifts, try Gilt for Chrome. Within the app, you can find the latest designer fashion items on sale and search for specific items and sizes like “men’s shoes size 11.”

I also recommend Amazon Windowshop. You can use the app to browse through millions of products in a slick way. For example my cousin really likes cupcakes: a search in the app shows me cupcake related products organized across categories like books, groceries and clothing, helping me find unique gifts.

For those of you still planning your trip home, check out Hipmunk. Hipmunk sorts all available flights to your destination by “agony” -- a mix of price, duration, and number of connections. You can see all the flights that meet your needs in a single view.

Finally, if you are late like I am in sending holiday cards, I suggest checking out Stupeflix Video Maker. In the app you can select a theme (my favorite one is “Celebrate”), insert pictures, text, and music, and create a free 60-second greeting that you can email or post on YouTube and Facebook. Or, you can simply create beautiful photo slideshows with DropMocks and comemories.

There are hundreds more apps to discover at the Chrome Web Store.

Happy Holidays!