Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Google Chrome - The Open Source Web Browser

Google Chrome (the new open source web browser from the people that brought you...erm...Google!) is due to launch its Beta testing version today.

To explain the reasoning for producing this browser, Google have created a little comic strip that describes the benefits of the new browser.

By having separate processing blocks, it means that if one tab is taking ages to load due to an image, flash or java heavy web-page, rather than freezing the entire browser, it will simply freeze that one tab. This will allow users to continue to use the browser normally, without it crashing or restarting. Of course, this means that the browser itself will be much more memory hungry when you launch it, but if you tend to open dozens of tabs then the browser will use less memory in the long run. In fact, if things start to run slowly, the Chrome Task Manager will tell you exactly what web-pages and plug-in applications you have open and how much memory each one is taking up.

According to Google, there is going to be plenty of new features that will make the user experience much easier. For example, the "new tab" screen will display boxes of the 9 sites you visit the most and a button for each of the 3 terms you most commonly search for! Of course, those that are worried about their privacy can select to have Chrome run "incognito" so that any browsing done during that session is not recorded in your history and no personal details are recorded by the program. So you can buy a surprise gift for somebody and not worry that if they use the computer next they will see the page you bought the item from!

Whether Google will be able to take on the might of Internet Explorer will have to be seen. Firefox has certainly shown that a browser can make large dents in IE's monopoly if the product is genuinely better and more innovative. I will certainly be one of the people giving the new browser a try and shall report my findings. It is hard to say whether a product like this will appeal to simply the "advanced" internet user that tends to be using Firefox anyway, or whether this will actually have a greater market appeal, due to the Google brand behind it, and attract the more casual user that may be scared to try something they don't know much about.

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