A browser with bling
Today Google stealthily released the beta version of an open-source web browser, Chrome, across 100 countries. Chrome is optimized for "web 2.0" applications and currently only Windows-compliant.
News of Chrome, in comic book form, was prematurely sent to German blogger Philipp Lenssen on Monday. Screenshots are currently available on his blog.
"We realized that the web had evolved from mainly simple text pages to rich, interactive applications and that we needed to completely rethink the browser," wrote Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management, and Linus Upson, Google engineering director, in a blog post.
"What we really needed was not just a browser, but also a modern platform for web pages and applications, and that's what we set out to build."
The release was intended to be secret, but someone in Mountain View "hit 'send' a bit early," they added, explaining Lenssen was notified a day sooner than planned. He then scanned the 38-page comic — Google's interpretation of a press release — and posted it on Blogoscoped, his Google-oriented website.
Placing the tab buttons on the upper side of the window rather than below the address bar will "prevent one tab from crashing another and provide improved protection from rogue sites," Pichai and Upson wrote.
And unlike tabs in Firefox and IE — which, when users close a tab, don't really disengage websites until the browser is shut down — closing a Chrome tab "ends the whole process," wasting less RAM.
A process manager eliminates unresponsive tabs and shows users how much memory and CPU each tab uses, so users can "look under the hood" and make informed decisions on what to kill.
- An "omnibox," or address bar, with auto-completion features, such as search suggestions, a person's most-visited and generally most popular pages, and searchability of individual websites.
- An "Incognito" window. Like IE8's InPrivate, activities inside Incognito will not be logged as user activity. All cookies are automatically deleted.
- Web apps can be launched in a separate browser window without an address bar or toolbar, and tabs can be put in "web app" mode, hiding the omnibar and controls so users can access the application without the browser in the way.
Like Android and OpenSocial, Chrome is an open source project. To build it, Google used components from Apple's WebKit and Mozilla's Firefox, among others.
The open source idea may be Google's way of defending against monopoly accusations, Lenssen speculated. The search giant "already owns a lot of what’s happening inside the browser, and some may feel owning a browser too could be a little too much power for a single company."
Microsoft, whose Internet Explorer browser remains the most popular way to access the web, released an updated version called IE8 last week. It made headlines for its zealous security features. And Mozilla, the next most-dominant browser, unleashed Firefox 3 earlier this summer. It was downloaded 8 million times in 24 hours.
Firefox uses Google as its default web browser. Mozilla extended that relationship to 2011 last week. The company plans to update Firefox again sometime in 2009.