Google's Chrome browser aims to outshine Microsoft

Google is presenting Chrome as a browser but is it effectively an operating system in disguise?


Google's surprise announcement of a new browser, Chrome, via a Web comic book could prove to be another game-changing development for the Internet in the coming years.

The browser presents a serious challenge to companies such as Microsoft and Apple, which hope their Web browsers will be the predominant ones used on the Internet and a gateway to more of their products.

With Chrome, Google is promising people faster browsing, better security and compatibility across multiple operating systems. Google ultimately sees Chrome as the doorway for broader use of its Web-based applications, which threaten the desktop-based software that has traditionally been Microsoft's domain.

Google published a 38-page comic book describing Chrome's features, a comprehensive view of what Google thinks people will want from a browser. Google's announcement of Chrome "reads almost like an operating system release, not a browser release," said David Mitchell, senior vice president for IT research at Ovum.

The company has also taken a new approach to dealing with JavaScript, the coding language used to create more interactive Web pages and Web services. Google has created its own virtual machine for processing JavaScript faster. It means Web services such as Gmail will, in theory, work faster.

But JavaScript can also be buggy on some Web pages and cause a browser to crash.

Google says Chrome can manage that problem better, too. Tabs -- a common feature in browsers -- allow multiple Web pages to be opened. But if one of those tabs encounters bad JavaScript, the whole browser will crash. Google said that Chrome isolates those tabs so if one crashes, it doesn't crash the whole application.

Google has also incorporated its Gears toolkit into Chrome. Gears lets developers create applications that can be used offline, synching data with Web services when Internet access is available again. It's a key part of Google's strategy to embellish its Web-based applications with the convenience of desktop applications.

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