Chrome: Google's New Browser Launches
Google introduced a Web browser today, a piece of software that the company has secretly had in the works for two years.
"There have been a lot of advances in the browser space," said Sundar Pichai, Google's vice president of product management in a news conference earlier today as he showed off the software, called Chrome, and its features. "[But] we believe that browsers should evolve a lot more to keep pace with how the Web is evolving."
One feature that Google is pitching as compelling for the new browser is the way it can let people surf the Web with multiple tabs open, even after one tab has frozen or even crashed. Ever have to restart your browser software after one tab got stuck loading a site? Chrome, says Google, doesn't do that.
Google also touts the browser as having "one box for everything" -- meaning that there's only one box users need to go to to type in Web navigation or search commands. If a user frequently visits Amazon.com, the browser will remember that user's habits and offer to open up the e-tailer's Web sites as soon as he or she types in a letter or two.
An "Incognito" mode will let users surf the Web in a private mode that prevents information from being saved to the computer.
Pichai said that Chrome is "kind of an ironic name" for the browser. The name, it turns out, refers to the window frames, menus and toolbars that browser users are accustomed to seeing as they surf the Web every day. Google's intention with the project was to keep such distractions as unobtrusive as possible. "The goal was to make people forget they are using a browser," he said.
To explain to techies its arguments for why Chrome is an improvement on other browsers, Google has published a comic book online that drills into the some pretty dry aspects of the new browser's software and why it's an improvement on the competition.
Tech industry analyst Roger Kay said this morning that he sees Google's move into this area as partly a defensive play. The search engine giant wants to provide users with Web surfing software that it knows will work well with its other products and services, he said. That way, Google is in a better position to protect its business if Microsoft comes up with more ways to integrate its Internet Explorer browser with its own search service, for example.
Chrome is available for download here. This beta version of the software is only for Windows computers; Mac and Linux versions are on the way.
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