Chrome sweet Chrome?

It's all Chrome, all the time, here on the InterWeb. Does Google's browser beta live up to the hype? Well, yes and no. Cringely has more.

Google finally enters the browser business (finally fulfilling years of rumors), and you'd think there was nothing else going on in the world -- no political conventions starring pistol-packing ex-beauty queens with pregnant teenage daughters, no hurricanes turning the weather over the southeast into the world's biggest daiquiri machine. Nope, nothing but all browsers all the time.

Everyone and their dog is doing back flips trying to review the browser before anyone else. So there's a lot of Chrome out there on the Web today, some of it more polished than others.

But first, a question. Before it made the Chrome beta available, Google felt compelled to publish a comic book describing its many technical wonderments. So: Why is it everyone feels the need to generate comic books to explain things to us? (Or, for that matter, why Hollywood would be dead without Marvel or DC Comics?) Have Americans grown into such dim bulbs that we need pictures to understand anything?

Having watched two weeks of political conventions on TV, I'm thinking the answer might be yes.

Now, the browser. I spent the first 10 minutes using Chrome feeling rather dim myself because I could not locate the friggin' "home" icon. Then I discovered why: Google hid it. You have to go to Chrome's Options menu to turn it on. So it seems the wattage coming out of Google isn't as high as it used to be either.

Otherwise, though, Chrome is amazingly nimble and stable, page loads are lightning fast, and it runs rings around Firefox and IE in terms of system resources. I opened 25 tabs at a time, trying to see when it would hit the wall. It didn't. And total memory usage was still under 100MB, though it's hard to tell exactly since Chrome seems to open separate executables for each tab. That also means if one page crashes, it doesn't take your whole browser with it (at least, theoretically).

I've never managed to open more than 10 tabs or windows inside IE without it bringing my system to its knees. I can do more than 20 in Firefox, but then it starts to waddle like Rosie O'Donnell carrying a 30-pound Butterball between her thighs. So Chrome lives up to the hype in that regard.

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Robert X. Cringely

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