When a user downloads files from Google Chrome, status information and recent downloads are displayed in a status bar at the bottom of the window. Rather than a separate download manager window, Chrome displays a Web page with information on all recent downloads.
This page-based management style is also used to good effect for Chrome's history. This proved to be a good method for viewing history and the search function in this window is the best history search in any browser I've ever used.
Chrome's bookmark management is not anywhere near as good, however. A small star icon in the address bar makes it possible to quickly bookmark any site, but the bookmark management window is pretty basic and looks similar to those found in browsers from years ago.
A nice feature in Google Chrome is the integrated task manager. Accessed through the tool menu or by hitting Shift-Esc, the task manager shows all tabs, windows and plug-ins running and makes it possible to end any process, which proves useful when a single Web site hangs, letting users close just that tab rather than the entire browser.
However, I wish more attention had been paid to more traditional user setting and management options. The option window in Chrome provided pretty basic options for customizing the browser, especially when compared with Firefox and Opera Software's Opera browser. And the lack of anything like an about:config in Chrome made any kind of power use of the browser nearly impossible.
Standards support for Chrome, which is based on the excellent WebKit browsing engine, is overall very good, and the current version of Chrome scores a 79 on the Acid3 standards test.
In general, I had very few problems with Web sites not displaying properly in Chrome. A bigger problem is that some sites don't identify Chrome as an acceptable browser and will tell the users they need to use another Web browser (even though most likely Chrome will run the site fine).
Adding to this problem is that, unlike most other browsers, it is very difficult to configure Chrome to display its user agent information as another acceptable Web browser. In fact, the only information I could find on doing this involved using a hex editor to change a .DLL in Chrome, something typically outside of the capabilities of all but the most capable tech users.
Still, in most cases we aren't talking about the browser being even a full second faster than other current browsers, and in my opinion, at least for now, speed is not a major factor when choosing a Web browser.
All in all, despite some hiccups and obvious shortcomings, Google Chrome is an impressive new Web browser and should be tried by any serious Web user (that is, any serious Web user on Windows, for now).
To download Google Chrome, go to www.google.com/chrome.
Chief Technology Analyst Jim Rapoza can be reached at [email protected].