The Chrome Browser

Category: Browsers

Google is now in the browser business. Chrome is the name of Google's new web browser, aimed squarely at competing with Microsoft Internet Explorer. So how does Chrome differ from IE, Firefox, Safari and other browsers? Read on for details and the Chrome download link...

Chrome browser

Chrome - Google's Web Browser

Chrome is a brand new web browser, designed and built from scratch by the folks at Google. Why a new browser? Google says that today's browsers were not built with today's web in mind. But Chrome was designed to handle all the cool stuff web users want to do, such as watching and uploading videos, web chat, online games, and web-based applications like email, word processing, spreadsheets and photo editing.

Oh, and they also wanted to do something more to compete with their arch-rival from Redmond. Microsoft owns 90% of the browser market, and has been trying various tactics to funnel IE users away from Google services. Since Google owns two-thirds of the search market, they have a pretty good chance to gain traction with their new browser and lessen the potential impact of Microsoft.

The Chrome Philosophy - 4S

Chrome is built upon four basic deign pillars: Stability, Speed, Security and Simplicity. You can view this nifty cartoon to get an overview of how Chrome works, or read my executive summary below.

STABILITY - The software engineers at Google believe that since a browser is becoming more of a tool than a toy, it must be rock-solid. So they created an architecture that isolates each tab as a separate process. If a website locks up in one tab, or if a web-based program or plugin goes haywire, the entire browser (other tabs) don't go down in flames. Just close the tab with the problem, and continue on. This can help users see which sites are causing browser freeze ups, or consuming gobs of memory. They've also improved memory handling, so that when a tab is closed, all of the memory it was using is released. The same thing happens when you move from one site to another. As a result, Chrome should not be a memory hog -- a frequent criticism of Firefox.

SPEED - The Googlers also knew that they could make a faster browser. By building on the open source foundations of Mozilla and Webkit, changing the way that memory is managed, and completely revamping the processing of Javascript code, they've built a browser that loads quickly and displays pages faster. Interactive applications that run inside a browser will also benefit from smoother screen updates. My own testing of Gmail in the Chrome browser was impressive. The site loads quickly, and transitions back and forth from the inbox to individual emails were very fast.

SECURITY - The new architecture which makes each tab run in a separate memory space also benefits the overall security of the browser. Malware cannot access files or settings on your computer, since each tab runs in a "jail" which locks in your data, while also locking out keyloggers, access to your documents, registry changes and other nasties. Chrome also consults a list of known phishing and malware sites, so if you stumble into a potentially harmful site, lights and sirens will go off. There's also a nifty feature for stealth surfing -- you can open a page in a read-only tab, which works the same, except no history, caching, cookies will survive once you close the tab.

Chrome browser tabbed interface

SIMPLICITY - Chrome was designed with tabs in mind, so the first thing they did was to flip the interface upside down, putting the tabs on top, with the location box and other controls down under. A unified "omnibox" handles urls, searches, and when you start typing, makes gentle suggestions to help you find a previously viewed page, or another page that might be helpful. And instead of a blank page for new tabs, Chrome keeps track of the pages you visit most often and puts links to those pages on the newly opened tab. Of course it's highly customizable, and every thing is open source, so other web developers can view the code, learn from it, and borrow ideas to make other web applications cooler.

Where Can I Download Chrome?

The beta (public test) version of Chrome is slated to be available on September 2, 2008 at 19:00 UTC. You can try this Chrome download link or download Chrome here, but neither link will work until the code is released. The beta version is for Windows only, but Google says that Mac OS X and Linux versions will follow soon.

Will Chrome rock the boat, or change the world? Post your comments below...

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Most recent comments on "The Chrome Browser"

Posted by:

03 Sep 2008

it might have a chance-- some still firefox is not that great it does have it problem and one guy even has a site clain all fact a bout firefox speed over IE are untrue. but then IE has it share of problems too. if some of the other browser wants to kick IE butt-- maybe they should work together not against each other- it seem all the other are doing is hurting the other not IE.

Posted by:

03 Sep 2008

That is simply fantastic! I use google for darn near everything. I've even switched a lot of my documents into google docs to have easier access to them. The only thing I don't like about google docs is it's limited support of file types. I wish I could drop .pdf files in there, at the least. But with a new browser, built with today's internet in mind, I'm willing to bet it's smooter, faster, more convenient, and doesn't require you to download a million plug-ins for everything you want to do. I'll be downloaded that today, if it's out yet, and testing it ASAP. Google rocks in everything else, it stands to reason they would rock the browsers as well. Thanks Bob!

Posted by:

03 Sep 2008

I was going to download the beta today, but it requires Windows Vista, which I don't have and am steadfastly resisting. So I'm a bit frustrated that I can't test it!

I use Firefox right now. It's too bad Google couldn't have collaborated with the Firefox people. If Chrome succeeds, it will more likely be at the expense of Firefox than IE. For example, I work in government, using a network and hardware provided by the powers-that-be. Unless you have admin privileges, you're stuck with what they install, unless you make a good business case for getting a new program. We don't even have Google toolbars. IE is the browser we use. I can't see my employer switching to Chrome any time soon.

I will watch with interest, but won't be able to beta-test without resorting to the RAM-hogging Vista. (Does anyone else find it ironic that Chrome seekst to reduce memory-hogging but requires VIsta?????) Guess it's time to think about Linux again.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I have XP and Chrome is running fine for me. I do agree that it will probably cut into Firefox as well as IE. But it's also likely that Firefox will adopt some of the cutting edge (open source) code from Chrome. It doesn't hurt to have a 3rd strong contender.

Posted by:

04 Sep 2008

I find it mildly interesting - and in some ways it's very interesting - it may offer some exciting new ideas. I do feel, however, that webkit is not news - using linux I have been exposed to webkit browsers. Right now I'm using Safari, but I have the option to use Opera or Firefox, Epiphany or Midori. It's nice to have tools to hand, and also that none of my tools come from Microsoft. I am aware that Safari comes from Apple and Chrome comes from Google, however, and this makes me a little uneasy - so I will support Firefox - but I do really love Opera.

The reported 'amazing speed' doesn't really amaze me - all browsers seem to work fast enough, and the main limit is my connection speed/servers. It's a little bit like arguing about turning on your TV, my picture appears 60ms after I turn it on, so should I throw my TV out to get one that starts up in 6ms?

It's an interesting option to have web based applications - but I'm not so sure I want all of my applications shoehorned through a browser.

Linux gave me an escape - and I think Chrome is exciting for people because underneath their zealous relationship with Microsoft (a real 'wow, I hate this - but I'd hate anything new, and I hate it when everything changes') they have a child that's saying 'let's go outside to play, we haven't been outside this microsoft box for ten years!!! I want to LIVE!

Firefox is no stranger to webkit, they have been thinking about it, and made decisions to be where they are. Are we all sure that everything should be webkit? Do we think there aren't any other possible futures?

Posted by:

06 Sep 2008

I tried it and was not impressed so it's back to Opera which remains faster, smaller and has more useful features than Firefox.

Posted by:

26 Mar 2009

My son turned me on to Chrome. I love it compared to IE. I did use Firefox for a couple of years while I had a mac and also liked that better than IE. The only issue I have with Chrome is that it often tells me a known link is broken and I have to click on it a second or third time. But that may also have to do with my internet connection as the problem seems to come and go. The one bar search/url is fabulous.

Posted by:

23 Apr 2009

I would like to suggest you all read the TOS and Privacy links BEFORE you download Chrome. I did. And I didn't download it then.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Any particular reason???

Posted by:

14 May 2009

I downloaded Google Chrome about 30 days ago and love it! I was using Mozilla Firefox, but Chrome is so much faster! The only problem I have noticed is it's not compatible with watch instantly movies on Netflix. I highly recommend Chrome if you want a fast browser!

Posted by:

25 Sep 2012

I have uninstalled chrome and have lost hyperlinks in MS Word and MS Outlook. I know this has been a problem with others as well because there are posts in Windows Forum. I don't understand how they fixed it I have Windows 7 Outlook 2003.Any suggestions for a fix. Apparently the hyperlink is broken when the uninstall happens.

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