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September 2, 2008

Google's New Browser -- Chrome

This post is coming to the blog via the new Google browser, Chrome, almost.  See below.  When AT&t decided to build a browser, many commentators wondered why.  When Google builds one, the online world is filled with intrigue and speculation.  As most people know, Microsoft's share of the browser market is on a par with Google's share of the online advertising market.  So what does a Google browser mean?  Google's own statement is that the company wanted a browser that was optimized for running web applications.  From Google's perspective, the browser is less a piece of software than a place to run applications coming from the web.  Applications such as word processing, spreadsheet, or presentation software, perhaps?  Microsoft take note.

Chrome has some interesting features which it details in an interminably long online comic book hosted by various Google staffers.  The most interesting features include running each web tab as a separate process.  This means if one tab crashes, it doesn't take the entire browser down.  Chrome has a privacy mode similar to that in the IE8 beta.  It's accessible via a tiny wrench icon in the upper left hand corner of the screen.

Chrome takes the application base seriously by eliminating the traditional home page.  The opening page collects thumbnails of most recently viewed sites and pages.  In fact, there is no icon that takes one back to a home page.  It's just the browser.  The problem is that there is no way to edit this list, meaning that duplicate pages or page no found links will sit there just as much as any other page.  One assumes that these will disappear over time as other content takes their place.

Another big change is that the address bar and the search box has been combined.  Type an address, go to a page.  Type a search, get search results from Google and go a link from the list.  Chrome is not locked into Google, by the way.  It defaults to Google but asks if you want to change to another search engine during installation.  It's not as if key words in the address bar are anything new or unavailable in competing browsers.  The integration with a specific search engine is fairly tight in this implementation.  One other feature that will be noticed by those who enter text in online apps such as web mail is that misspelled words will be flagged through the traditional red underlining.  This feature shows up in IM messages as well. 

The browser is written in the open source WebKit, which underlies the Safari rendering engine.  The pages come up fast and accurate, or at least the ones on the sites I have mostly visited show no problems. One exception is Typepad, which hosts this blog.  As I attempted to insert links, they did not format in the text as I had expected, which forced me back to Internet Explorer for the final post.  We'll see what else shows up.

More on Chrome as I use it.  [MG]

Get Chrome here.

September 2, 2008 | Permalink

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