Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008
The tech news that has people buzzing today is the release of a new general purpose browser by Google, called Google Chrome. It is meant to be a cleaner, faster browser than current mass market browsers like Microsoft's Internet Explorer or Mozilla's Firefox. And, because it was developed by a web company, it sets its sights on re-engineering the browser experience to work seamlessly with web applications.
I played with Chrome a bit this morning and it feels quite light and simple, as Google chose to remove features for the sake of simplicity. It has put a premium on security and stability via both tab design and how things work behind the scenes (multiple-processes, sandboxes). I think one of its nicest features is that you can take a web page like, say, Yahoo Mail and turn it into an “application shortcut” that puts an icon on your desktop. Click the icon and a new Chrome window opens without any toolbars — making the web app feel a lot more like a standalone desktop app. This is both a boon to web app users and, ahem, to people who do a lot of tech support for non-technical family members (”just click on this big red icon to use email!”). What it really does is to help Google in its efforts to make the browser more prominent than the operating system.
The product is open-source and in beta at the moment (which given Google's track record on beta products, may mean that it will be officially released in 2013 ). The key for Google will be to create a strategy that gets Chrome in the hands of non-technical users, who are likely their core market. Since Chrome doesn't support extensions, it will be particularly tough for many people to give up Firefox. Or, if you are a data analyst, Kirix Strata™.
Overall, Chrome offers some new, clever concepts for the web browser which should make the competition and resulting innovation that much better in the years to come. If you want to check it out, you can get a free download of Google Chrome here.