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Google Chrome: An Introduction

Chrome also uses separate processes for applications like Flash and JavaScript. Again this is partly for security (isolating processes form each other wherever it doesn’t cause problems) and partly for speed. Rather than the browser trying to allocate CPU time to each process, adding further processing work, the OS, which is designed to do just that, can do the work.

Speaking of JavaScript, Chrome has a funky new way of handing that, too. Rather than using someone else's JavaScript engine, Google decided it would create its own for Chrome, dubbed V8. Rather than running JavaScript within the browser process, V8 translates it into machine code to be run direct on the CPU, which is obviously much faster. Digg, which often grinds Firefox to a halt for me, has never loaded so quickly! Better still, Google has made V8 is available such that any C/C++ developer that wants it integrate it can.

On the surface Chrome has a few neat tricks, too. The New Tab page, for example, shows a grid of nine of your most frequently opened pages. The address come search bar, in Google's words the Omnibar, has a few tweaks as well. If you've used a website's search function, then if you start typing that address in the Omnibar, select the site and press tab, you'll be able to plug your search term in before you even reach the site, cutting out a few navigation clicks.

There's also incognito mode, which basically opens up a browser session that leaves no fingerprints. Google suggests you might use such a window for looking for a surprise present for your wife and I've been using it when I check my online banking, but the entire Internet community seems to have dubbed Incognito Mode, Porn Mode and I imagine that the name will stick.


Chrome's New Tab page


There are still a few problems with Chrome, though. Currently there is no RSS support within the browser, presumably in an attempt to encourage people to use Google Reader. Currently there is also a distinct lack of add-ons which for me, as a user of Firefox for longer than I can remember, is a huge frustration - I simply cannot function without Greasemonkey and Foxmarks, to name but a couple. The framework is there, however, fo such apps to be made; so really it's just a matter of time.

More annoyingly, every now and again some pages just won't load for no apparent reason; an issue that requires a complete reset of the browser to fix - negating one of the main benefits of Chrome's separate process design.

However, Chrome is currently only a beta (what from Google isn't?) and it hasn't even been out for a month, yet. Google has a great track record of improving and fixing its programs and web-based applications and there's no reason to think Chrome will be any different.

Really my biggest worry is that Google isn't going to be taking away market share where it needs to - i.e. (if you'll forgive the pun) from Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Rather, it is browsers like Opera and Firefox that will see their user counts dropping. People use such browsers because they want an alternative to IE, whereas IE users are often too lazy or ignorant to change, or simply find IE is good enough for them. Saying that, all it takes is a deal that sees Chrome installed by default on Dell or HP systems, say, and that could change.

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