Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 08:50 AM
Yesterday, Google launched their own Web browser. Since this is pretty big news, I decided it was worth posting network-wide. Do we really need another browser? Before yesterday, my answer would have been no - I'm a very satisfied Firefox user, and Internet Explorer 8 is shaping up quite nicely. But after watching the 90 minute Google Webcast yesterday, I was very interested in with what Google had created. There's a great online comic that walks you through why Google created the browser, and what kinds of things were important to Google when creating Chrome. I think this comic is also how the browser was leaked before Google was ready to announce it.
The features list is pretty impressive for a beta, but the real proof is in using it: I just started doing that this morning, and I have to admit, the speed differeces that Google talked about really do make a difference. I have a fast cable modem connection (10 mbps, but I just tested it and it benchmarked at 25.2 mbps) so I don't usually think of the Web as being slow in general, but after hitting a dozen or so sites with Chrome, everything really does seem faster. Web pages seem to snap into place quicker, and Chrome itself is extremely responsive. The work that Google has done focusing on speed seems to have paid off in a big way.
Beyond speed, the way that Chrome works from a stability standpoint is fascinating: each tab is actually a separate running process. That means that if one Web page crashes your browser, it only takes down that one tab, leaving the rest intact. I've lost more work than I care to admit through Firefox and Internet Explorer crashes, so this is hugely appealing to me. Being a beta, there are some bugs and quirks, but I found that with the import of all my Firefox bookmarks, usernames, and passwords, I was up and running really quick. It includes an install of Flash (or maybe it's using what was already installed on my computer), so I was able to see and interact with everything on the Web easily.
The user interface and design of the browser is typical Google: minimalist, but well-thought out and quite effective. I really like the "Omnibox" which is a combination of address bar and search box. You just start typing something, and it quickly gives you options for searching Google (or whatever search engine you have configured) or going to that Web site. Chome still needs more polishing, but it's shaping up to be quite impressive. Check it out for yourself.