One of the more surprising Internet-related launches happened very recently when Google launched a free Internet browser of its own.
The news that they had been working on a browser called Chrome broke when a web-based comic, describing the new browse,r was published earlier than planned. Not long afterwards, Google announced that a Beta version of Chrome would be available for download the next day.
According to the comic, which you can find by searching on Google for “chrome comic”, Google felt that people were doing so much more on the web that a new browser was called for. One of the things that they wanted to was to create a browser that really could do more than one thing a time.
You might imagine that they could do this already but existing browsers do things one at a time, but fast enough to appear that they are not doing so. The one-at-a-time method worked very well, says Google, until the advent of today’s online applications, video and audio sharing.
The more tasks the user is working on and the more complex they are, the slower the browser is likely to work, and the more unreliable it is likely to be. Chrome was designed to be able to do a number of things at a time and to work more efficiently and neatly with the computer’s memory.
This improvements were supposed to make Chrome faster and more stable and so, curious to check it out, I downloaded a copy as soon as I could. I did this using the download link on the main page at www.google.com.
I don’t know exactly how big the browser file is but it downloaded onto my computer pretty quickly and installed itself without any fuss. Chrome’s interface is very clean and uncluttered, giving priority not to itself, but to displaying the content of the web page you’re viewing.
It has the now usual tab arrangement where each site you’re browsing is represented by a tab at the top of the page, and not by a host of windows in your task bar. One nice innovation is that there is one space into which you can enter the address of the website you want, or just keywords, as you would in a search engine.
I would say that my initial impressions of Chrome are pretty good and that it does seem a bit faster than either Internet Explorer or Firefox. It worked perfectly on nearly every page that I viewed with it, except Adobe’s online wordprocessing package.
The thing that you have to bear in mind is that Chrome is still in its Beta version and, therefore, still on test. The public is, in fact, helping Google with the test and Chrome even has a feature which allows you to report bugs you find in it.
Chrome is still lacking a number of features including the ability to send pages or links by e-mail. Another missing feature is that, while it can import Internet Explorer bookmarks, it still cannot import from Firefox, which is what I usually use.
Its too soon to form a definitive opinion on the merits of Chrome but, knowing Google, it will be a very capable contender in the browser wars. The only niggly naggly doubt that comes into my mind is just how it will fare in the those very same wars.
It may be a slight improvement on other browsers but there is not yet, to my mind at least, a compelling reason to change to it. The fact that it is not sufficiently differentiated from the opposition may be its major problem going forward.
Please note Google developers, that if it suddenly acquired the ability to download and keep a copy of my Gmail on my computer, I’d convert in a flash.
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