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Google Calendar Notifications: Alerts vs Desktop Notifications, and making Alerts work

I've been playing around with the Google Calendar settings and I'm a little confused about the possible meanings of the following setting:

Google Calendar tab -> Settings -> Event settings -> Notifications

It can be "Alerts" or "Desktop notifications"

With "Desktop notifications" chosen, if you're using Chrome on Mac OS, you get a persistent notification in the upper right hand corner of your screen. I think it is OS-based, it is very similar to the notification you get for an iMessage text message, and many other things in Mac OS.

If you're using Chrome on Windows 10, you get a persistent notification in the lower right hand corner of your screen, using the "notifications for websites" functionality Chrome has now (not sure what to call it).

Sometimes you also get a pop-up in any tabs that have open but it doesn't seem to be consistent.

With "Alerts" chosen you still get a pop-up in any tabs that have open, but that seems to be it.

Should I be seeing additional functionality for "Alerts"?

To avoid confusion: I believe both of these options describe "what to do for an Event that has a Notification reminder." Events can also have "Email" reminders which are handled separately, by having an email placed in your Gmail account. For a given event you can have BOTH "Notification" AND "Email" reminders. You can also have none in which case none of these things would happen.

As a side note: How can you guarantee you will receive the desktop notifications? Do you have to have open in some tab in Chrome when the notification is set to go off? Do you have to be signed in to your Google account in some tab? etc