Google Enters the Web Browser Market with Chrome - should you care?
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Google Enters the Web Browser Market with Chrome - should you care? By Matthew David
The new Browser Wars were heating up, but now they are boiling over thanks to Google entering the market with its own Web browser dubbed "Chrome." In this article you will find out what makes Google Chrome such an exciting entry and why Microsoft should be quaking in its boots. 

What do you get with Chrome? 
Google's Chrome was quite a surprise when it hit the streets. There have been rumors for years, but there was little credence put in those rumors. Frankly, Google is doing so much that entering the browser market just seems like a distraction. But they have and they did it with a bang. Google's new Web browser is called "Chrome." 

There are a lot of features that Chrome has introduced, but here are some notable highlights: 
  • New UI 
  • Isolated Apps 
  • WebKit 
  • V8 JavaScript Engine 


The new user interface to Chrome is very interesting. It is minimalist to say the least. In a twist to conventional UI design, tabs are located above the Web Address bar. At first this seems counter intuitive, but it actually works. The end result is that more real estate space is dedicated to the Browser.  

Each time that you open a new browser tab you are now isolating the Web site to that one tab. Unlike other Web browsers, when a Web site fails in Chrome all you have to do is close one tab, not the whole Web browser. Other Web browsers, such as Microsoft's Internet Explorer, requires that you close the Web browser and ALL tabs. Google's approach reinforces the idea of applications running in their own space in an operating system. 

The Web rendering engine behind the scenes is Webkit, an Open Source project that you will recognize as part of Apple's Safari. Yes, the WebKit product in Chrome is the same browser found on all Macs and iPhones. WebKit strongly supports HTML standards, particularly the new HTML 5 standard. 

Powering the JavaScript rendering engine is a new technology called V8. It is blazing fast. In friendly rivalry, Mozilla and Google are now trading bouts to see who has the faster JavaScript engine. This is very important if we want to build more complex and sophisticated Web applications. Of note, Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 is significantly slower than Chrome. These tools, along with many others, are unique to Chrome. However, Chrome is an Open Source project. You can take it and modify it yourself. 

Who is the real target market for Chrome?
The Web browser market is now becoming crowded with heavy weights. You have Microsoft, Apple, Google and Mozilla. With all this choice, what is the reason for Google to release Chrome? Quite simply it is this: better, faster Web applications. Google is entering with a high horsepower product that is fast and puts Microsoft's veteran Internet Explorer deep in the shadows. Equally, Google can use Chrome as a basis for building a Web Centric Operating System where all you need is the Web browser to run your apps - don't forget that Google has the world's most popular search engine, is building powerful productivity tools and, through tools such as Blogger, manages 10% of ALL web sites. Why not build a Web browser specifically for these tools. Netscape did that with Navigator 3 and it was hugely successful. 
Five years ago, there was only one real player in town: Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6. Today, the Web browser market is becoming cluttered with choices. They are:
  • Microsoft's Internet 7 (8 is coming soon) 
  • Mozilla's FireFox 3 
  • Apple's Safari 
  • Opera Browser 
The reason why there can be so much choice is that the web is more important now to our daily lives than at any other time. Pushing the envelope for Web solutions are so-called Web 2.0 solutions built on HTML 5 technology. HTML 5 comprises the latest version of JavaScript, XML, CSS and HTML. The standard is endorsed by the World Wide Web Consortium Group, an Internet standards governing body. You can take the ACID 3 test, developed by a separate independent group called the Web Standard Project (WaSP), to see how well your Web browser stacks up. The current release of Chrome has a pass of 79% and the latest release of FireFox 3.1 has an Acid 3 test pass of 89%. Internet Explorer 7 has a pass rate of 12%. 

At the end of the day, Chrome is upping the ante. Google has money to throw at this project even if its Web browser remains a distant 4th choice for a decade or more. What Google gets is a very public way of tightening the screws on Microsoft to make its Web browser better and, in turn, enable Google's Web Applications to run better in a competing solution. 
Should you start using Chrome?
For now, my primary browser will continue to be FireFox. Chrome is showing itself to be a strong platform and it is good to have a decent choice. The only real loser I see with the release of Google Chrome is Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Redmond: read the writing on the wall and clean up your act. There are some new players in town, and they carry big sticks.

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Matthew has written four Flash books, contributed to a dozen Web books, and has published over 400 articles. He is passionate about exposing Internet's potential for all of us. Matthew works directly with many companies as a business strategist coaching IT architects and business leaders to work tightly with each other towards common goals.
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