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Google Burnishes Chrome for Browser Battle

Google Burnishes Chrome for Browser Battle

Google has launched a beta version of its open source Web browser, Chrome, which is specifically designed to handle the demands of today's Web-based applications. Chrome enters a browser market crowded with competitors jostling to unseat Microsoft's Internet Explorer from its dominant position.

By JR Raphael TechNewsWorld ECT News Network
09/02/08 12:11 PM PT

Google is getting into the browser game with its first beta release of Chrome. The long-rumored open source project is scheduled to become available to users in 100 countries Tuesday, starting a new battle for loyalty within the Internet Explorer and Firefox user bases.

Chrome boasts a slew of features designed to improve stability and speed. The question, though, is whether the company that revolutionized Web search can make a dent in the already competitive browser market -- or whether its offering will fizzle in comparison to the offerings already up for grabs.

Browser Breakdown

One of the most noteworthy features of Chrome is its "isolated sandbox" approach, Google VP of Product Management Sundar Pichai and Engineering Director Linus Upson wrote in their blog announcement Monday. Put simply, the software opens every tab in its own individual compartment, so to speak -- so if one site crashes, your whole browser won't go down. Behind-the-scenes features such as this seem to be the focus of Chrome -- as opposed to flashy interface-based options.

"Like the classic Google homepage, Google Chrome is clean and fast. It gets out of your way and gets you where you want to go," Pichai and Upson explain.

The tool will also operate with a custom-built JavaScript engine called "V8," which Google promises will improve performance and be able to "power the next generation of Web applications." Other unique features include a top-of-window tab configuration (compared to the typical within-window look), an all-purpose search and navigation bar dubbed the "Omnibar," and a "favorites" home page that'll show snapshots of your most frequently visited sites. Chrome will also have private browsing options similar to those offered in the latest Internet Explorer release.

The initial beta will be Windows-specific, though Mac and Linux versions are currently under development.

Conversion Questions

Intrigue aside, whether Chrome can win crowds over may prove to be iffy. Ultimately, basic human nature could get in the way.

"One of the things that's going to work against Google a little bit is that typically, browser users don't change browsers unless the browser they're using is causing them some kind of problem," Rob Enderle, principal analyst with the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld. "They will try other browsers out, but they won't necessarily stick with them because they are creatures of habit," he said.

The first time isn't always the charm, either. As with any initial beta release, Enderle cautions users not to set expectations too high.

"I'm not expecting it to be a complete disaster, but generation one products do tend to have a certain amount of pain associated with them -- and that should be taken into account," he noted.

If any companies have reason to fear, Mozilla and Microsoft are certainly the ones that come to mind. Executives at both corporations have expressed only encouragement so far, welcoming the added user choice and expressing no worry. Still, there's bound to be some apprehension over the launch, even if it's not being publicly expressed.

"It's going to stir things up a bit," Enderle predicted.


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