Google Chrome Or Should I Say Chromium

Written by:  Brian Nelson • Edited by: Rebecca Scudder
Updated Sep 16, 2008
• Related Guides: Google | Google Chrome | Open Source

Google's release of its new browser Chrome made a lot of waves in the computing world. Now, that the novelty has worn off, people are taking a serious look at what makes it tick. Turns out that is easier than you thought. Microsoft isn't big on open source software, but is this the exception?

Pay No Attention to that Browser Behind The Curtain

It is not a secret. Google mentioned it in its press releases and in its introductory comic. But, most people don't know about Chromium. You see, Google Chrome is the Google version of an open source program called Chromium. Like other open source programs, Chromium is free to use. It is also free to look at the source code. In fact, it is free to look at the source code, find something you like, copy it, and use it somewhere else. Or, if you want, you could copy the whole thing and release your own version. That is what Google Chrome is, a Google branded version of Chromium. Theoretically, Microsoft could release a Chromium browser. I'm thinking, Chromosoft.

More likely, Microsoft has a team of developers slicing and dicing the code right now to see what can be easily incorporated (with a little modification, of course) into Internet Explorer 8.

Chromium Open Source

If the boys at Redmond are getting an inside peak at the code that runs Google's browser, why can't the average user? Because they would just mess it up. But, you aren't an average user. You are a Windows XP power user. You run more Windows utilities before 8:00am than most people do all day. You can handle a little browser if it starts causing trouble. Well, my friend, let's get us some brand new software.

The open source project that produces Chromium is housed, not surprisingly, on Google's Code site which provides free web space and functionality for tons of open source projects. There are tons of resources here for both user and developer. For starters, there is documentation for the browser both as a user, and as a potential developer or coder. There is also a blog written by the actual people who write the code for Chromium. So far, the blog seems to have toed the company line rather tightly, but interesting developments may appear there before they do on any "official" Google site.

But, what is really cool, is that you can get the latest version of Chromium / Chrome here. Keep in mind that Google Chrome is in beta. That means that Google is saying that you can test the software and see what you think, but it is not fully supported production software. In other words, they aren't guaranteeing that it is perfect, or even that it is good for all computers or environments. It also means that the developers are still fixing it and working out the bugs. As data comes in, the developers will analyze it and then if necessary tweak the software code in order to fix any issues. When they complete a fix, they roll out a new release. The catch is that there is no way to know if that release will be better or worse than the one before it, and there is no way to know if the new code will actually fix the problem. Because of this, Google won't bother releasing every new version or even updating the ones out there via Google Update. But, you can get them anyway.

If you go to the Chromium website at you will find a link to download Google Chrome. That is the official latest release. If you want the very latest, paint is still wet, release you won't find an easy link to it, but it is there. Go to

It isn't even a real webpage, just a directory listing, probably to scare off the curious. Just click on the highest numbered directory, and that is the latest build. If you just want to install it on your computer, you just need the mini-installer.exe. Download and run, and now you have the very latest Chrome. If it freaks out, uninstall it and go get tomorrow's version.

Keep in mind, this is a Windows XP game. Vista is already a little bit sketchy and you can bet that the Chromium guys are focused on market share. That is why there is no Mac or Unix versions. Windows XP is still the dominant operating system, so that is step one. Vista is step two (or maybe three, who knows.)

Enjoy the cutting edge, my friends.

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