|Do you know where your variables are?|
t/51-mech-links.t rightfully fails because on your system, you have a weirdo search engine or malware installed which injects a search engine link into the page:
This is not the fault of WWW::Mechanize::Chrome, but it's still a problematic Chrome installation. See WWW::Mechanize::Chrome::Troubleshooting for further information.
As to your other questions:
Do others have this much difficulty installing it on Windows?
Personally, I develop under Windows and don't experience such problems, but I have AnyEvent installed and Log::Lo4perl as well..
Is there a sequence that works to reliably install it on Windows (preferrably with cpanm) without resorting to multiple attempts, and --force? Does my detailed description below provide enough to give hints, if I'm just doing something wrong
For me, the tests pass on my machine without problems. The tests fail on Travis CI from time to time due to timeouts and/or weirdo interactions between the VM and Chrome and (nonexistent) desktop environment, but I don't consider that problematic.
Does corion know that the cpantesters results "lie" about a successful windows install, due to not finding chrome.exe? Is there a way to make chrome.exe a prereq, so that cpantesters reports will be more useful
As I wrote the test suite so it skips the tests when the Chrome executable is unavailable, I guess I'm aware of that the tests get skipped when Chrome is not available. I wouldn't consider that a lie, especially when the tests themselves in the skip message say that they skipped the tests due to Chrome being unavailable. No, you cannot make non-Perl components a prerequisite. If you want more useful reports, see the Travis CI and AppVeyor reports where WWW::Mechanize::Chrome is tested on as well.
Is the failure i found in t/51-mech-links.t real, or an artifact of my problematic install? If it's real, is it a bug in the test suite, or a bug in the module itself?
As discussed above, it is a problem with your system and setup of Chrome. This is already discussed in the WWW::Mechanize::Chrome documentation, and while I think about making the test suite more resilient against such setups, you should still clean up your system and remove whatever plugin/malware injects new search links into your web pages.
If my failures end up being invalid, is there a way to delete/override the failing reports to cpantesters? (added)
Why would you want to delete that test run from CPAN testers?