written by: Keshav Pai•edited by: Brian Nelson•updated: 9/17/2009
The public release of a new web browser developed by Google called ‘Chrome’ happened in December of 2008 and was based on the WebKit application engine and layout engine. Soon after its launch Chrome gained approximately 1% of the market share, but by September 2009 this percentage had jumped to 2.8
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Chrome’s user interface has been developed to be minimalist, something quite different from other web browsers. Moreover Google Chrome promises to vastly improve stability, speed and security of web browsing as compared to its competitors, though independent analysis suggests WebKit and Mozilla have recently come out with faster web browsers.
Some of the special features of Google Chrome, that give it an advantage over other web browsers include:
Security – 2 blacklists with the latest updates (for phishing and malware) are regularly downloaded off the internet and the system keeps informing users whether the sites they want to visit are harmful. In addition, Chrome attempts to ensure that malware on one tab does not infect another, nor does it install itself. Chrome allows a plug-in to operate in a different process while itself running under very low privileges to increase safety. Also, it avoids embedding of ActiveX controls and its ‘Incognito’ feature does not allow the browser to store any cookies or historical information from the sites. visited
Stability – Chrome uses a multithread browser while a separate process is allocated to each site and plug-in, which allows for isolation for each tab whereby failure (or a breach) in one tab does not affect another tab. Another advantage is that overall memory allocation is less in this scenario. The ‘Task Manger’ actually allows Chrome users to see each tab site’s downloading details, memory usage, etc.
Interface – While the user interface is similar to other web browsers, the tab bar is flush with the top of the title-bar when the window is maximised, but appears below it when minimised. Chrome allows building of web applications as it includes ‘Gears’. The new tab page is different from most other browsers as it shows thumbnails of the 9 most visited sites. The ‘Omnibox’ functions both as a search and URL box and the tabs appear at the top of the window instead of the bottom as in most other browsers.
Extensions – Chrome supports some extensions featuring gesture recognition, additional development tools, etc, but these must be installed separately.
Tracking – Chrome allows Google to track usage details through mostly optional mechanisms, such as client ID, page not found, bug tracker, etc. Regular updates to Chrome are also available automatically, unless specifically excluded.
Overall reviews show that Chrome has lived up to its reputation and proved a success for Google.