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Chrome: Google's New Browser Launches

Mike Musgrove

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.

By Mike Musgrove  |  September 2, 2008; 4:02 PM ET  | Category:  Mike Musgrove
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"vise"

Posted by: Glen | September 2, 2008 5:00 PM

"vise president "? Really? He must be holding on tight to that job title.

I'm looking forward to getting home and downloading the new browser, but I don't know if I can live without my Firefox extensions, specifically AdBlock Plus and NoScript. Since Google seems to have kept this new browser secret, one wonders if they divulged anything to the developers of such popular add-ons, meaning we might get Chrome versions sooner than later.

Posted by: LarryMac | September 2, 2008 5:01 PM

Nice clean and quick browser, but some functionality still lacks.
1. Unable to open up Citrix applications
2. When zooming in and out, pictures/thumbnails stay the same size.
3. Not sure if downloads are accelerated using multiple connections. Would be a great feature.

haven't found many other flaws though, so Chrome is off to a good start.

Posted by: Jag | September 2, 2008 5:03 PM

I like it. The sandbox idea is great. Anything to crimp MS works with me.

Posted by: Joe Rex Tillery | September 2, 2008 5:12 PM

I already uninstalled it, not enough I can do to it to make it the way I like it...EI8 is much easier to use and more functional....seems that Google would have made thier toolbar work with thier browser.

Posted by: e9zx | September 2, 2008 5:20 PM

A couple of things that make me nervous.

1. Google is not a security company, (athough I am quite sure they have a security staff), as new technologies emerge for better securty connections, will their use of "open source" leave an "open door" for "black hats" to find exploits?

2. Google is in the information gathering business... "If a user frequently visits Amazon.com, the browser will remember that user's habits..." So, what if I don't want this machine to remember I've been looking at a devorce procedures website" or "living with aids .com" or some other socially stand-offish or medical treatment sites?

3. If they are going to charge advertisers for use of the demographic data they are collecting about us, shouldn't they pay us to use their web-utilities?

Posted by: Pokey Joe | September 2, 2008 5:26 PM

no Homepage button? no dropdownbox for back page? ability to make incognito the default setting??

Posted by: danny | September 2, 2008 5:27 PM

I downloaded it this afternoon & used it for a while & liked what I saw. Since there's no Mac version yet, I launched Parallels running XP & gave it a test drive on the PC side of my Intel Mac. I visited most of the usual sites I go to on a regular basis & had no problems with any of them. I missed the Stumble! button when I got bored so I put it away until later.

Posted by: DaviDC. | September 2, 2008 5:39 PM

I don't trust google. Too big and intrusive. I don't use google unless I want to see a babe's pic. That's about the only area where google really outshines yahoo.

Posted by: mikee | September 2, 2008 6:16 PM

Google Chrome is very limited. I have a Java application in my software and Chrome states there is no plug-in available to run the applet. Chrome is not as good as Netscape 2.

Posted by: George11 | September 2, 2008 6:27 PM

I just downloaded the exe for Google's new browser to check it out but it won't install. It's supposed to be small but the exe was only 474kb and that doesn't seem right. I'll just have to wait

Posted by: Curt | September 2, 2008 8:32 PM

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