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September 02 2008

Google Chrome - The real IE killer?

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Google Chrome LogoI recently installed both IE 8 beta and Google Chrome (Google’s first entry into the web browser market).  Installing IE 8 was a painful 6-7 minute process (IE 8 beta  nuked my Internet explorer 7 install).  In contrast, Google chrome installed in about 1.5 minutes and was a pretty simple process.

The main focus of Google Chrome is to provide a standardized browser interface for accessing web applications.  Gmail, Google docs and the numerous other online web apps are incredibly complex in terms of Javascript and Dom structure because they seek to accommodate the numerous browsers with all of their particular failings (yes I am looking at you Internet Explorer).  Google Chrome seeks to provide a stable platform for presenting web apps.

Google chrome has a really nice touch on the interface - the tabs are above the navigation bar.  It seems like a small change but it makes sense when using the browser.  Aesthetically Chrome is simple and clean.  When browsing it is incredibly fast and since it’s using the tested webkit  as the rendering engine (as used by Safari) we can trust that it will be a LOT closer to correctly rendering XHTML/CSS than Internet Explorer.

Chrome also has a ‘magic bar’ for the url box, which functions in the same way as the Firefox 3/IE 8 url box.  Start typing in a url and it checks your history and favourites for any matches.  Great feature.

Chrome also has a privacy mode (aka porn mode) called incognito.  Safari and IE 8 also have this feature, something FF 3 missed  out on.  When using Incognito, “Pages you view in this window won’t appear in your browser history or search history, and they won’t leave other traces, like cookies, on your computer after you close the incognito window.”

Chrome also includes it’s own task manager, each tab runs on it’s own thread so theoretically if one application freaks out, the task manager can end the offending process and you can continue browsing in other tabs.  Chrome includes the ability to bookmark applications to desktop/quick launch bar which is handy.

The Javascript engine in Chrome is something special too.  The rebuilt the Javascript engine from the ground up and called it V8.  The engine runs independently of the browser, the end result being incredibly fast javascript speeds.

Did I mention Chrome has all of these features but is still FAST AS HELL.  While I will continue to use FF 3 for web development and SEO work (the plugins are fantastic), I think Chrome might be a new favourite for general web browing and when using web applications.  But I’ll be waiting for the Mac version thanks.

More Info:

Chrome Javascript Speed Tests
Thorough look at Chrome capabilities