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Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Google Chrome Has Potentials But Still Needs Work

Google's first beta version of the Chrome browser looks useful, lightweight and ergonomic, although the early version needs some improvements under the hood.

Pros and Cons

Let's start with the first impressions we got when playing with Google's new offering. Chrome borrows liberally from other browsers running open-source software code, including Apple's Safari and Firefox.

Looking at the GUI you may think that it looks quite simple, with a light blue background framing the tabs, browsing area and the toolbar. Don't expect to see any menu bars or windows titles, just tabs placed under the toolbar. This simplistic approach could be welcomed by any user who needs not to be obscured by overloaded designs and focus on daily tasks.

The available tabs can me moved effortlessly and fast; you can grab a tab and drag it out into own individual window. Chrome also gives you the option of starting up in any tab configuration you want--whether a custom setup or the set of tabs you had open in your previous session.

Google's focus on handling JavaScript is also very convenient. Javascript usually consumes your processor resources, and in cases a web site has not correctly used Javascript, it may bring down the browser. With Chrome, this would just means that you are losing just the affected tab, and not the whole program. When something go wrong, Chrome's task manager enables you to kill those threads that causing problems. In addition, Chrome's V8 scripting engine runs web applications at very fast, since the compiler turns JavaScript programs into executable machine code that runs directly on the CPU, according to Google.

Talking about speed, the multiprocess approach of Chrome allows you to click to another tab or window as soon as a slow site drag down your browsing. Or if a Java ad banner loads slowly, the rest of the page won't be affected and will load.

Forget about the old address bar. Chrome's Omnibox is an integrated bar at the top of the browser. You can type in a URL or a search term and Chrome takes you to the right place. When you start typing in the address bar, it will suggest popular sites, searches and pages you already visited that contain your search term. In addition, site-integrated search engines are accessible directly from the address bar.

Chrome also offers a private browsing option called Incognito. You can open a special type of new window and rest easy knowing nothing you do in it will be logged or saved on your computer. The Incognito window is isolated from the rest of your browsing experience, so you can have your private window open alongside your regular windows. Internet Explorer 8's recent beta release also features a private browsing option.

On the other hand, the beta version of Chrome lacks third-party add-ons programs. For now you'll have to make do without your AdBlocks, Better Gmails, and BugMeNots--or you'll have to switch between browsers to use the add-ons.

Chrome Beta also seems to allow sites running Flash take over your computer's resources. Unlike with Firefox, there's no way to stop Flash from running. Of course, this could be fixed in future updates of the software.

Compared to Internet Explorer 8 released just last week, Chroma seems to need some time to catch up. We played the same Youtube video using the same PC with Firefox 3, Chroma and IE8. During playback, Firefox 3 consumed the 60% of the CPU, Chrome came with 50% and IE8 took up just a few percent. Of course, the test was done in an old PC.

The same happened when we fired up 15 loading pages. Firefox was slower and the more CPU hungry, with Chrome and IE8 to be equally fast although it ended with way too less CPU load.

Summing up, we may say that Chrome is promising but it is very true that a great deal of work can be done before the final release.

Google Vs Microsoft

Chrome is definitely a defensive move due to Google's fear that the upcoming Internet Explorer 8 could be used to lock out Google. Google's core business of Web search and related advertising depends on browsers. A potential success of Chrome could give Google total control over the users' experience from the time the browser opens to the time it shuts down. DoubleClick, Google's advertising branch, could find this kind of information very useful.

In addition, Google said Chrome was designed to address the shift to using software from within a Web browser rather than as locally installed computer applications running inside Microsoft Windows or some other operating system. This means that Chrome could equally be called a challenge to Microsoft's Office software suite, because what Google really wants to do is to make the browser a stable and flexible platform that can do practically everything we want to do with a computer, from word processing and e-mail to photo editing.

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