Chances are you already have two, maybe three Web browsers on your computer. Do you need another? Google (STOCK QUOTE: GOOG) thinks so.
The Web giant unveiled Chrome in late September to immediate fanfare, and users are already discovering its benefits.
The application itself not only loads much faster than other browsers, it crushes other web pages in speed tests. Chrome performs more than 10 times faster than Firefox and 50 times faster than Internet Explorer (STOCK QUOTE: MSFT), based on how fast a browser reads Java script, the language many websites are written in. To perform the test yourself, you can visit http://code.google.com/apis/v8/run.html.
Google isn’t interested in speed alone. They also built a more stable browser to avoid annoying and inexplicable crashes. According to Google, the inherent problem with all browsers is that they are single-threaded. That means, no matter how many windows or tabs you have open, they’re all tied together. Google has altered that functionality and created a multi-threaded browser. Now, each time you open a new page you are, essentially, opening a new browser. If that page crashes, it only crashes that page. The rest of your pages remain open.
With a Google account, users gain access to free applications, including documents, calendars, and email. Chrome also enables users to place application shortcuts on their desktop that directly open tools like Google Maps or Finance.
It’s Browser War
Chrome is a direct assault on Internet Explorer, but it may also hurt Firefox. The 2005/2006 Independent Auditors' Report for the Mozilla Foundation shows that 85% of Firefox’s search royalties came from Google. Losing a portion of that funding would directly affect their bottom line.
Should You Switch?
The initial set up is easy. Chrome imports your bookmarks and allows you to choose your default search engine. It also offers users an option to surf the web in “incognito mode,” promotes “safe browsing,” “instant bookmarks,” and “simpler downloads.” There are still plenty of features missing, though. RSS feeds are the most blatantly absent, and Firefox users will miss all of those nifty add-ons that allow you to customize your browser.
Regardless, Chrome is a wonderful, fast new tool and yet another chance for Google to shape the web.