Google Chrome: the first true Web 2.0 browser

Computerworld takes an in-depth look at Google's new browser.

Google's Chrome Web browser

Google's Chrome Web browser

Google's just-released Chrome takes the same approach to browser design that Google takes to its home page -- stripped-down, fast and functional, with very few bells and whistles.

That's both the good news and the bad news about this browser. Those who like a no-frills approach to their Web experience, and who want the content of Web sites front and center, will welcome it. But those who want a more fully-featured interface with extras will prefer either Internet Explorer or Firefox.

That being said, keep in mind that this is a first beta, and Google may well introduce new features in future versions. For example, this beta does not have a true bookmarks manager, but it would be quite surprising if one didn't show up in future betas.

In fact, there's a very long list of features this browser doesn't have. There's no built-in RSS reader, as there is in Internet Explorer, or that's available as an add-on for Firefox. You won't find a good bookmarks manager, such as you'll find in both Internet Explorer and Firefox. There are no add-ons as you'll find in Firefox. Be warned -- the list of what's not there can go on for quite some time.

That was all by design, though, and it's why Google calls this browser Chrome. The frame of a browser is called its chrome, and Google set out to reduce the browser to just the "chrome." In a comic book that gives technical background about the browser, Google explains its design philosophy this way: "We don't want to interrupt anything the user is trying to do. If you can just ignore the browser, we've done a good job."

If that was the goal, Google has succeeded. Chrome has so little interface, the content area of the browser is larger than with other browsers -- it almost feels like full-screen mode. Nothing gets in the way of the content of the browser window itself. In the same way that Google puts search front and center on its home page, this browser puts content first.

Designed for consumers or enterprises?

A great deal of what makes Chrome different from other browsers is not what you see, but what you don't see. Chrome appears to be designed in great part to run AJAX and Web 2.0 applications. It's the only browser that has been built from the ground up for a world in which the browser is a front end to Web-based applications and services like those that Google provides, and like those that are used increasingly by businesses.

To that end, Google has made dramatic changes under the hood. Google has chosen the open-source WebKit as its rendering engine, and it built its own JavaScript virtual machine called V8 for running JavaScript faster, with more stability, and more securely. Each tab in Chrome runs as its own separate process, so if one tab is busy or bogged down, it won't affect the performance in other tabs. Google claims that designing a browser this way will also cut down on memory bloat.

Also important is that Chrome comes equipped with Google Gears, which is a kind of glue that ties together Web-based applications and your own hard disk.

The effect of all this should be -- says Google -- a browser able to run Web-based applications with the same speed, interactivity, and stability as client-based applications. This means that Chrome may be aimed as much or more at Microsoft Office than it is at Internet Explorer. By providing a superior platform for running its Web-based applications, Google is giving itself a chance to supplant Office with Google Docs.

Seen in that way, the ultimate success of Chrome may be measured more by how many enterprises switch from Office to Google Docs than by how many consumers switch from Internet Explorer to Chrome.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Preston Gralla

Preston Gralla

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Logitech Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?