Google Chrome – 3rd time lucky?

This summer has been a bumper season for new products and technologies.

At the end of July I told you about Google Knol and breakaway-from-Google Cuil.

Well, today (that’s the 2nd of September), Google have just launched their new Browser, Google Chrome, slated as “A Fresh Take on the Browser”, and I’m in the process of downloading and installing it (from here) as I write!!

You may remember that I was singularly unimpressed, both by Knol and by Cuil.

But Chrome? Now that (even though I obviously haven’t tried it yet) looks to be a completely different kettle of fish.

Why do I think so? Well, firstly, Google have blogged that “As you may have read in the blogosphere, we hit “send” a bit early on a comic book introducing our new open source browser, Google Chrome“. Yeah, as if anyone really believes that …

But the cartoon they’ve released, explaining why they developed Chrome, what it does, and how it does it, is nothing short of masterful. I urge all you techies to read through all 38 pages of it (don’t worry – it is, after all, cartoon). If you look carefully, you’ll also find the names of the people involved in the project, and their friends and family will find that the comic characters are amazingly alike their real-life counterparts (see the development team explaining it on the Google Chrome video) !!

And if you can’t be bothered to go to Google to see the whole cartoon, you can find it all on Kara Swisher‘s article at All Things Digital. Kara, according to Rafi Needleman for CNET, was first to pick up on Google’s official announcement: Chrome is real.

So What is So Special about Google Chrome?

Each tab will run in its own process. These processes will be completely isolated from each other, will be killable from the operating system’s process manager, and will be sandboxed to prevent them from accessing information on the user’s computer. This architecture should lead to a more stable and more consistent browsing experience–performance of the browser should not degrade over time.

Or, in laymen’s terms, when one tab decides to spontaneously commit suicide, it doesn’t take all the other tabs with it – AT LONG LAST !!!

How are Google testing the beast?  Well, automation is an absolute must here. And according to the cartoon, Google is using its search index to prioritize testing of the browser–the pages that are linked to the most, from Google Search, are getting the most automated hits to make sure Chrome doesn’t blue-screen on them.

The browser is being written with WebKit, the open-source engine at the core of Apple’s Safari and Google’s Android. The browser is also getting a new Javascript virtual machine, V8. It’s said to be a better solution for complex and rich Web applications–it should yield better performance as well as “smoother drag and drops” in interactive applications.

Search and user experience

In Chrome, browser tabs will take over the interface, becoming the primary navigational element. Each tab will get its own window controls. Users will be able to tear off tabs into standalone windows. 

The browser’s default start page will show thumbnails of the user’s most frequently visited pages and a list of their top searches. There will also be a private browsing mode, as IE 8 has.

(Credit: Gears)

Chrome’s multi-threaded, OS-like architecture lends itself to secure browsing. Each Web page, or tab, runs in its own process, and is blocked from accessing other processes on the computer. “We’ve taking the existing process boundary,” the comic says, “and made it into a jail.”

A database and API to access phishing and scam sites will be used in Chrome (and made public), which will hopefully reduce “zero-day” scam exploits. The browser will be constantly updated with this information.

The browser will be released as an open-source project. Also, Google will build the open-source local runtime Gears into the browser, and is hoping that it is taking up widely to “improve the base functionality of all browsers.” Using open-source is also a great way for Google to attempt to dissipate fears that they want to take over the whole internet.

So, how will it turn out?

It’s too early to tell. But while I was a bit scathing about the first 2 technology launches this summer, I’m hoping that this one will be worth the time it’s been in the making (and for me to write this!).

And one last comment – while I wrote the last couple of sentences, Chrome actually installed on my computer, and lo and behold, although it may not support Firefox (oops) Mac OS or Linux, it seems to have full support for Hebrew !! (now, how the heck do I get it to go back to English ????)

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10 responses to “Google Chrome – 3rd time lucky?

  1. “We are so, so happy with Google Chrome,” mumbled Mozilla CEO John Lilly through gritted teeth. “That most of our income is from Google has no bearing on me making this statement.” –

  2. It’s 1:30 am, and I’m on my way to bed with a smile on my face from that wonderful tone of voice!!
    But seriously, my Firefox, with all its addons and plugins, is still safe for now, even if they are supposed to work with Chrome too.
    The one in danger (in fact I’m not even running it now), is of course, IE…

  3. i’m willing to try it out just to see if it works more efficiently than FireFox… if it’s faster than Firefox, has tabs and isn’t IE, then it should be perfect

  4. Like the look of this – less than impressed by the mention of it’s accessibility and the commitment made by sending a totally image-based intro to my screenreader colleagues .

    I’ll give it a run and see whether Firefox has a serious rival – what’s IE? 😉


  5. Hi media boy,
    I’ve been playing with it all day, and it has its ups and downs. Sometimes amazingly fast, sometimes less so …
    It certainly seems more stable than Firefox and Explorer, and has included some very nice features from other browsers.
    I use Firefox almost exclusively because of its plugins, so I would have to see whether Chrome implements any of those things, before giving it up.

  6. Hi Kev,
    Ouch! I’ll admit that I didn’t look at the accessibility aspect of the intro. Although, if you noticed, they also have a video (with sound!) that goes along with it.
    Give Chrome a try, and let us know what you think of it.
    (and IE is Internet Explorer …)
    All the best

  7. chrome seems to be fast – and it runs Hartman Institute videos w/o problems, unlike FF. Generally, I like FF for its customizability (not really a word, but you know what I mean). Of course, it needs to work on Mac for me to really like it. and here’s a weird thing – i asked for chrome in english but it gave me a hebrew version, anyway – maybe bec the underlying OS I have at work is in Hebrew? Any suggestions on that? Not that there’s anything wrong with Hebrew, but….

  8. Yeah, Chrome did that Hebrew thing to me too, although i requested English. I would imagine it’s an OS thing, as mine is also Hebrew enabled.
    It’s not a problem to fix though – just click on the tool icon (spanner) on the top right, go to Options >> Minor Tweaks >> Fonts and Language.

  9. My problem with the Hebrew version is that it insists on using all the search engines as default search including Google and there doesn’t seem to be a way to chose your personal default search engines – you can only choose from the options they give you.

  10. Hi Esther,
    Sorry it took so long to get back to you, I didn’t see your comment till just now.
    Try the following:
    Click on the Tools icon (the spanner), go into Options, Basics, and then you have “Default Search” with a “Manage” button. Click on Manage, and you get a long list of search engines, plus an “Add” button for you to add your own search engines.

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