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02 September 2008, 08:15

Google announces Google Chrome web browser

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Google has confirmed that it is launching Google Chrome, a new web browser. Rumours of a Google browser project had been around since 2004, but a posting on the Blogoscoped site has turned those rumours into something much more tangible. It reported on the arrival of a 38 page comic book, drawn by Scott McCloud, which detailed Google's Chrome web browser. Some hours later, Google posted on its official blog, saying that it "hit 'send' a bit early on a comic book", and went on to confirm all the details which were laid out in the book.

Chrome appears to be a radical reworking of a modern browser's internal architecture, with each tabbed session in the browser running as its own process. Plugins are run as separate child processes to the tabbed sessions process. This decoupling, along with a more isolating security model which keeps web page executable content on a tight lead, is designed to give a more reliable browser. One web page locking up does not lock up the entire browser. There is even a task manager for advanced users to identify badly performing processes and selectively stop them.

Chrome uses the Webkit engine, also used by Apple's Safari and Nokia among others, to render web pages. JavaScript execution is handled by V8, yet another new high performance JavaScript engine in the mold of TraceMonkey and SquirrelFish, with dynamic code generation and optimisation and a precise memory management for fast garbage collection. Chrome has also incorporated Google's Gears as standard, giving web applications in Chrome access to database, geolocation and desktop integration.

The most visible changes in Chrome are in its tabs, home page and address bar. The tabs for pages appear to be located at the very top of the window, with the address bar and tools underneath. The home page is dynamically composed of your top nine used sites in a three by three thumbnail view and with your most common searches listed to the right of the thumbnails. The address bar is now "the Omnibox", described as an extra smart autocompleting text field, drawing completion data from your web searches as well as your browser bookmarks and history. For those worried about their privacy, a private browsing mode is also built in so users won't see that surprise gift for a loved one appearing in the Chrome home page.

Google has stated that Chrome will be an open source application, with the terms described indicating a BSD or Apache permissive licence. A beta version for Windows will be released on September 2nd with Mac and Linux versions being developed. The comic book is now available on Google Books.


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