Google launches new internet software

With hindsight, its not surprising that Google finally launched its own browser software. The browser, named Chrome, will compete with existing products such as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple’s Safari and Opera.

Screen views of the new Chrome browser from Google. Picture by Google.

Screen views of the new Chrome browser from Google. Picture by Google.

Google argues that current Web browsers were designed eons ago, before so many of the developments that characterize today’s Web: video, scams and spyware,  viruses that lurk even on legitimate sites, Web-based games and ambitious Web-based programs like Google’s own Docs word processor.

As Google’s blog puts it, “We realized that the Web had evolved from mainly simple text pages to rich, interactive applications and that we needed to completely rethink the browser.”

What this early version of Chrome accomplishes isn’t quite that grand. With no status bar, no menu bar and only a single toolbar (for bookmarks), Chrome is minimalist in the extreme. At the moment, for example, there’s no way to e-mail a Web page to someone, no full-screen mode, no way to magnify the page (rather than just the text), and no screen for organizing bookmarks. Google says that these features are at the top of its to-do list.

Chrome is, nonetheless, full of really smart features that seem to have been inspired by other browsers – or ripped off from them, depending on your level of cynicism.

Also under the hood are what Google considers some of Chrome’s most important features – the security enhancements. Google says that each tab runs in its own “sandbox,” so that if there’s nasty spyware-type software running on one Web site, it has no access to the rest of your computer, or even the other tabs. Google asserts that this is much stronger protection than Internet Explorer 8 gives you, especially in Windows XP. (Internet Explorer 8 supplies its best protection only in Windows Vista.)

Released last Tuesday (September 2nd), the Chrome browser immediately grabbed 1 per cent of the market, according to Net Applications.

Internet Explorer accounted for 72.2 per cent of the browsers used in August to access the 40,000-plus sites Net Applications monitors. That was a drop of about 0.9 percentage points from July. Meanwhile, Firefox increased its share by about half a percentage point, climbing from 19.2 per cent in July to end August at 19.7 per cent. Other browsers also boosted their shares: Apple’s Safari went from 6.1 per cent to 6.4 per cent, while Opera’s share hit 0.74 per cent, up slightly from July’s 0.69 per cent.

Google’s entry into the browser software industry is seen by analysts as inevitable. Google relies upon the browser for its primary access path to users and the primary vehicle for delivering its ads. Not having control of the browser cedes control of this key element and its development path to competitors such as Microsoft.

An interesting and welcome feature of Microsoft’s new Internet Explorer 8 is its “privacy” mode. While the ability to browse privately is both a welcome development for consumers and also a feature of Chrome, it signaled a long-expected threat that Microsoft or Apple could interfere with software features critical to the functioning of the online advertising network/exchanges such as DoubleClick.

By developing its own browser Google can simply eliminate that threat.

Reports by: Macworld, International Herald Tribune and ZDNet.


2 Responses

  1. lol awsome

  2. google is too slow and does not give me my home page without my signing in with email name and password. i thought this was faster but it isnt. if you cannot connect me right away with my home page when i sign in then i will try another web site

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