Google Chrome Browser to Challenge Microsoft

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-09-01 Print this article Print

UPDATE: One week after Microsoft captured headlines by posing Beta 2 of Internet Explorer 8 as a weapon to keep Google's search ad dominion at bay, Google is fighting back ... with a comic book.
It's not just any comic book; it's a super-creative introduction to Google Chrome, the company's long-rumored take on an open-source Web browser. Google Blogoscoped got the scoop and posted the comic book, which Google crafted with artist Scott McCloud, here today.

Google later confirmed in a blog post that Chrome would be released to beta in Windows tomorrow, with versions for the Mac and Linux to follow later.

The comic book, which includes Google software programmers as the characters, bemoans the current state of the Web browser, noting how today's Web demands for video and faster apps have hurtled past the abilities of current Web browsers such as IE, Firefox and Opera.

Because we spend so much time online, we began seriously thinking about what kind of browser could exist if we started from scratch and built on the best elements out there. 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. 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 engineers say the browser needs to be stable, fast, secure, clean, easy to use and open source. To achieve these goals, Chrome will have multiple processes to render multiple tabs, so that even though one tab is busy, or crashes, the rest are free to work for you.

There's a long, really well dumbed down explanation of this, but in short Google software engineer Brett Wilson said:

So as you browse, we're creating and destroying processes all of the time. If there's a crazy memory leak it won't affect you for that long because you'll probably close the tab at some point and get that memory back.

Chrome leverages the open-source Webkit, which Google's Android team uses for that mobile operating system, as its rendering engine. Moreover, Google had a software company in Denmark called V8 build a JavaScript virtual machine to speed up processing. Google Gears will be integrated with Chrome to allow users to leverage it offline.

Check out the comic book for the rest of the technical details, or check out Rafe Needleman's post for a solid summary of technical features.

I'm not sure we need another Web browser -- and didn't Google just renew its deal to float Mozilla? -- but if Chrome is better than anything else out there, I'll change that tack in a heartbeat. From what I've read in this graphic extravaganza, it appears more sophisticated than IE, Firefox, Opera or anything else out there now.

If Chrome really is an attempt to pry users from IE, which only Firefox has successfully managed to do in any fashion, Google has its work cut out for it. Simply by virtue of its PC tie-in deals with manufacturers, Microsoft is to the browser market what Google is to search -- a 70 percent-plus market leader.

Chrome better be something special if Google wants to gain traction. And if it does get big, look out, Microsoft and all with designs on Web services. Google + search + Web applications + browser = Internet dominance.


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