Google Enters the Browser Wars

So, Google throws itself into the browser war. Introducing Google Chrome, AKA Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US) AppleWebKit/525.13 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/ Safari/525.13.

Google’s live webcast announcement was rather lengthy and included a pretty good Q&A session. I don’t have a lot of time right now to opine about every feature, but here are some of the notes I took during the webcast:

  • “Very simple experience with a sophisticated core.”
  • “Browsers should not be self-important.”
  • Chrome has no dialogue boxes you have to interact with the user.
  • Chrome has what they call an “Omnibox.” The Omnibox takes either web addresses or search queries so there is no longer a need for two separate text boxes in a browser.
  • Chrome has a completely new architecture. Web browsers have been based on the same technology since the very beginning of the web. Chrome is a completely new design instead of a bloating of existing code.
  • Chrome is not 100% standards compliant, but if a page renders correctly in Safari, it’ll work in Chrome.
  • Each tab runs in its own process. If one tab crashes, it doesn’t take the whole browser with it.
  • Since each tab runs its own process, each tab is sandboxed.
  • The rendering engine for Chrome is also sandboxed. This helps increase security by stripping the rendering engine of permissions to change the system.
  • “Tabs should be more than an element, but a main functionality.”
  • Chrome collects a LOT of data about you when you surf. I find this a little troubling. It’s got to be feeding a lot of great data into adsense and adwords to help display ads more effectively.
  • Chrome “phones home” to
  • Chrome has a feature called Incognito that is a separate window that records no information about your surfing.
  • Chrome can use “Application windows” that will allow you to load pages you use frequently into their own window to make them look more like a regular windows app. Works great with Pandora and Gmail. These windows have no navigation buttons and are also included in your ALT+TAB menu for fast switching.
  • Chrome notices built in site searches and will allow you to search them from the Omnibox.
  • Can just click to download or open a file on the web. No dialogue boxes.
  • Chrome does not currently support browser extensions.
  • Chrome has an element inspector similar to the Safari one.
  • Chrome, if it gets distribution, is a threat to FireFox.
  • Astute people noticed that Chrome was available for download about 15 minutes early.

During my hour of extensive “ahem” testing so far, I find the browser quite capable. I have some friends who are reporting problems getting the browser through their corporate firewall and some people reporting that the download isn’t working. Probably because they didn’t notice that Chrome was out there 15 minutes early and now it’s getting slammed for downloads. I’ll keep playing with the browser and see if I can break it. So far I like it a lot.