Chrome browser set to become 'wicked fast'

A new feature expected next year for the Google Chrome browser will have Web pages ready before you need them.

Earlier this fall Google promised that hardware acceleration advances were going to make Chrome 7 as much as 60 times faster than its predecessor, and now the company is working on a new feature that could boost the browser's speed even more.

Specifically, a new page-preloading capability now in the works will allow Chrome to load Web pages before they're actually needed, according to a brief description on the Chromium issues tracker. The feature will work by preloading pages in "background tabs"; the result, according to the site's description, will be "wicked fast page loads."

The feature is expected to arrive in Chrome in February, the description says.

Which Pages, For How Long?

As with many browsers, Google's Chrome lets Web surfers have multiple pages open at once in different tabs. By loading select pages into background tabs not visible to the user, the browser will avoid having to load those pages from scratch when they're needed by the user. That, in turn, promises to make them accessible much more quickly.

Open questions regarding the new capability include how to accomplish it without taking up too much memory on the user's computer, which could potentially counteract at least some of the speed benefits. Also not yet clear is how Chrome would choose which pages to preload among all the many a user might want to visit, and how long it would keep them preloaded there.

Then, too, there's the question of how such a capability might affect analytics tools and their page-view statistics, as pointed out by Stephen Shankland in a recent CNET report. The advent of Safari's 3D interface for showing a thumbnail array of recently used Web pages created similar problems for analytics, as Shankland notes, so page preloading on Chrome could face similar difficulties.

All About Speed

Nevertheless, as Chrome vies with the likes of Firefox and Internet Explorer for market position, faster Web speed will likely be one of the key features to set the winning browser apart. Chrome also recently performed well on the World Wide Web Consortium's very early tests of HTML5 conformance, which could prove to be another distinguishing feature.

Meanwhile, Chrome's market share is on the rise. During the month of October, Chrome rose from eight per cent to 8.5 per cent of the worldwide browser market, according to data from research firm Net Applications. Market leader Internet Explorer dropped from 59.7 per cent to 59.2 per cent, while Firefox went from 23 per cent to 22.8 per cent. Safari held about 5.4 per cent, and Opera claimed 2.3 per cent.

Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk.

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Katherine Noyes

PC World (US online)
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