Google Chrome – It is not the much-hyped Google OS but pretty close. And if it becomes popular the Google OS might not even be worth it. The browser WILL be the OS.
Google has a finger in every online service pie – it has a nearly complete suite of online services – check out Google Labs. From just controlling the server end of things Google Chrome is a very smart foray into controlling the browser side too. It is all about controlling the experience. If you are the browser maker you decide how it behaves, what elements are shown, how it behaves and what components are optimized. You drive essential standards and the ecosystem of web applications.
Google Chrome is full of new features, both user-visible and purely internal.
Chrome implements a one-process-per-application model. This means application behaviour (unintended or malicious) is localized, crashes are easier to deal with, debugging is easier and memory management is more efficient. This also makes the browser design more flexible and extensible.
The UI is minimalistic and stylish, a signature Google UI. Tabs are the central element in the user interface and therefore are at the very top of the browser. Less important elements of the UI such as the status bar and bookmarks are hidden by default. The default home page shows the 9 most visited sites plus most searched sites, a pretty sensible default and something I know I will get used to in a few days. The best part about the UI is that everything is better but in a subtle, non-distracting manner. All the (Firefox) shortcuts work as expected and everything is where I expect it to be. Google Gears is in-built and provides the interface to the user’s file-system and allows applications to behave more like native applications.
Security is built-in by design. Applications and plug-ins are sandboxed from each other and from the rest of the user’s system. Processes cannot write to the filesystem (no persistent cookies!) and cannot read from sensitive filesystem folders or files. Conventional browser anti-phishing mechanisms are also in place checking sites visited against a list of known malicious sites.
This is a major shakeup of the browser market. Chrome was announced around the same time as the IE8 announcement, this is probably a deliberate move intended to invoke comparisons and garner more publicity. Users shifting to IE8 from IE7 or to IE7 from IE6 might decide to give Chrome a try and stick with it. Users of the various Google services are also a primary audience, the browser has the Google brand and that says something for the users of those services. But most disruptive of all Google Chrome will probably take away a significant chunk of the Mozilla Firefox userbase.
IE is the OS’s browser. It is the default browser, the “e” icon that most users associate with the Web and the browser that renders almost everything nicely. Firefox was the “alternate” browser. It is the browser with a rich ecosystem of extensions and thus more flexible. It is the preferred browser for tech-savvy surfers, slightly more secure and of course available on non-Windows systems.
Google Chrome is all set to displace Mozilla Firefox and become the preferred “alternate” browser. Today it does most things that Firefox can do, eventually it will do ALL things that firefox can do and I am not sure what Firefox’s differentiator will be to make me choose Firefox over Chrome. Today Chrome lacks the plug-ins/extensions that Firefox has but that is just a matter of time before Firefox extensions are ported to Chrome.I am going to hazard a guess and say that Chrome will have a third of the browser market a year frmo now.
All in all very interesting times in the browser world