Google Joins the Battle of the Browsers

"The Web has clearly evolved to where people are running complex applications in the browser," said Google's Sunder Pichai. "It's not just a window where you show a Web page."

Pichai, vice president of Product Management at Google, describes Chrome, Google's newly released Web browser, as a new platform for Web development. As the Web becomes a powerful platform for complex applications development and deployment, the browser wars are becoming more heated. The holy grail for the Web based companies such as Google and Yahoo is to offer Web applications to achieve the look and feel as well as the power and performance of desktop applications. A powerful Web browser will help in this pursuit but it won't be sufficient. Ubiquitous, reliable, high-bandwidth, always-on connectivity will be essential. Significant improvements in mini browser software and reliable, broadband, wireless connectivity will also help spawn a mobile Internet revolution.

Google claims the software is designed to make it faster to browse the Web and easier to run applications without downloading software to a computer. The product will be offered on an open-source basis. It will launch initially for Windows machines in 100 countries including India and Pakistan, with Mac and Linux versions to come. Here's Google's Chrome download link.

Companies such as Google see the control of the browser as the key to controlling development and delivery of a new generation of faster, richer, and more capable, advanced business and consumer applications that will eventually make the desktop operating systems irrelevant. This new effort by Google will be seen as an attempt to go after Microsoft's jugular. At a minimum, this move by Google will spur more innovation in the Web browser technology.

According to media reports, Chrome has been designed with features that resemble a traditional operating system like Microsoft Windows or Linux. One feature, for example, allows users to create desktop buttons that launch their favorite Web applications, like email, in a special window that looks more like the screen of a typical software program, not like a Web page. Chrome's navigation bar—the space where you type in an Internet address—will serve a dual purpose. Users can either enter a URL address into the space or type a search term that will be processed through a search engine. Another feature borrowed from the operating system is a "task manager," a window that keeps track of the performance of each Web application. Chrome, which is open-source, is based on WebKit, open-source software that Apple Inc. used to develop its Safari Web browser.

In terms of Google's efforts to establish its Web services APIs such as Google Maps, the company can now make the execution of its APIs better and faster when used with its web browser, giving an incentive to users to switch. Early reports indicate that Javascript does execute faster in Chrome browser.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Doug Anmuth, an Internet analyst with Lehman Brothers, said while Google's browser carries some cool features such as technology designed to prevent Web pages from stalling or crashing, those alone aren't likely to drive users to change their browsing habits. Internet Explorer has a built-in advantage over Chrome and other competing Web browsers because it's pre-installed on the hard drives of most computers running on Microsoft Windows. Anmuth predicts that Google's brand -- and various revenue-sharing distribution deals of the sort the company has struck for its toolbars -- could help Chrome capture 15% to 20% of the U.S. browser market in two years.

Here's a video from Google about Chrome browser:


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