Intellectual Thoughts by Sanjay Panda: Googles. new browser : CHROME

Googles. new browser : CHROME

Google has introduced a new Web browser, called Chrome, aimed at wresting dominance of the browser market from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. The move takes the Google-Microsoft rivalry to a whole new level. If Google succeeds, it will be a big deal, with major ramifications for the future of the Web. But just how good is Chrome? How does it differ from IE and from less popular, but still important, browsers like Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari?
Google’s Chrome browser displays thumbnails of a user’s most-visited pages when a new tab is opened, rather than a blank page.Chrome is a smart, innovative browser that, in many common scenarios, will make using the Web faster, easier and less frustrating. But this first version—which is just a beta, or test, release—is rough around the edges and lacks some common browser features Google plans to add later. These omissions include a way to manage bookmarks, a command for emailing links and pages directly from the browser, and even a progress bar to show how much of a Web page has loaded.

Chrome’s interface has some bold changes from the standard browser design. These new features enhance the Web experience, but they will require some adjustment on the part of users. For instance, Chrome does away with most menus and toolbar icons to give maximum screen space for the Web pages themselves. Also, Google has merged the address bar, where you type in Web addresses, with the search box, where you type in search terms. This unified feature is called the Omnibox.
One striking difference in Chrome is how it handles tabs, which display a single Web page. In Chrome, each tab behaves as a separate browser. The bookmarks bar, Omnibox, menus and toolbar icons are located inside the tab, rather than atop the entire browser. The tabs appear at the top of the computer screen. Chrome also groups related tabs. If you open a new tab from a link in a page that’s already open, that new tab appears next to the originating page, rather than at the end of the row of tabs.

Google’s claims that Chrome is fast. The second beta version of IE8 is the best edition of Internet Explorer in years. It is packed with new features of its own, some of which are similar to those in Chrome, and some of which, in my view, top Chrome’s features.
For example, while IE8 also groups related tabs, it assigns a different color to each such tab group and allows you to close them all with one click. It has a “smart” address box of its own, that drops down a list of suggestions as you type, though it retains a separate search box.

IE8 also has breakthrough privacy features that exceed Chrome’s, and includes a new technology called Accelerators, which allows you to take rapid action on any selected word or phrase on a Web page, such as generating a map for a place name, without switching to a new page.

Microsoft’s IE8 has an \”Accelerator\” feature that lets users select any Web text and then map, translate, search or email their selection without leaving the page.Chrome and IE8 are far more advanced than Apple’s Safari. Safari is speedy on both Mac and Windows platforms, but lacks many of the key intelligent features of its newer Google and Microsoft rivals.

Why is Google igniting a new browser war? There are two main reasons, and both involve competing with Microsoft. First, the search giant fears that because its search engine and other major products depend on the browser, Microsoft—with its rival online products—might be able to gain an advantage by altering the design of IE, which has roughly a 75% market share.

Second, and more important, Google sees the Web as a platform for the software programs, or applications, that currently run directly on computer operating systems, notably Microsoft’s Windows. It says current browsers lack the underlying architecture to enable future, more powerful Web applications that will rely more heavily on a common Web programming language called JavaScript. Chrome was designed to be the world’s speediest browser at handling JavaScript.

That move might one day make Chrome a sort of online operating system that competes with Windows. “Think of Chrome as more than a simple Web browser,” Google declares. “It’s a platform for running Web applications.”

Google claims that future, more sophisticated Web applications relying more heavily on JavaScript than today’s sites do would run faster on Chrome.
IE8 also has some compatibility issues, for different reasons. It’s the first version of Internet Explorer to hew closely to Web standards. Earlier versions used some nonstandard ways of rendering Web sites, prompting some site designers to adopt techniques that made their pages work in IE, but look odd in Firefox and Safari. Now, ironically, these pages also look strange in IE8. So Microsoft was forced to build in a special Compatibility View button that users must click to see the sites properly.

Chrome is built on three core design principles. The first is its spare user interface. There are only two menus and a handful of toolbar icons. Internet Explorer introduced a similar approach in its version 7, but with a difference. Microsoft allows users to restore a traditional menu bar; Google omits that option. And the only toolbar icon you can add in Chrome is a Home button.

The second big principle behind Chrome is that a user can type anything he or she wishes into a single place, the Omnibox, and instantly receive suggestions on where to go, gleaned from the user’s own browsing history and Google’s rankings of popular sites. Whether you type in a Web address or a search term, the Omnibox is very smart. In some cases, in my tests, it came up with the right destination after I had typed only one or two letters of the name of a site I frequently visited.

The Omnibox has another cool feature, called Tab-to-Search. If you type in the name of another site that includes its own search feature, like, the Omnibox allows you to simply press the tab key to search within just that site, without opening it first. Chrome, through its Options settings, also lets you change the default search engine used by the Omnibox. Instead of Google’s own search service, you can use Microsoft’s Live search, Yahoo search, or others.

The third big principle behind Chrome is that each tab runs, under the hood, as a separate browser. Tabs can be dragged off the main browser and turned into separate windows. If one tab crashes, the rest of the browser keeps running. But this doesn’t work perfectly. In my tests, all of Chrome died on me when I tried watching an Olympics video on the NBC site.

You can even turn any tab into a standalone application that can be run from the Start Menu, or the desktop, as if it was a separate program.

Chrome has a few other key features. When you open a new tab, you don’t get a blank page, but a set of thumbnails for your most-visited pages, plus lists of recent search engines you’ve used, recently used bookmarks and recently closed tabs.

Like other browsers, Chrome puts up a warning when you try to visit a malicious or phony Web site, and it has a private browsing mode, called Incognito, which allows you to browse without leaving any history on your computer—a feature popularized in Safari.

Chrome also has a pop-up blocker, but it’s annoying, because it flashes a notice that a pop-up has been blocked. IE also does this, but unlike in Chrome, it allows the warnings to be made much less intrusive.

Internet Explorer 8 has some new features Chrome lacks. Its private browsing mode, called InPrivate, is the first I’ve seen that not only leaves no traces on your own computer, but also bars Web sites from collecting some types of information on where you’ve previously been surfing.

While IE8’s address box and search box remain separate, each also offers rapid suggestions; and both are organized better than Chrome’s. For instance, the suggestions that drop down from its address bar are divided neatly into categories drawn from the browser’s own guess, your history and your favorites. One downside: For this to work in Windows XP, you must first install Microsoft’s desktop search product.

Like Chrome, IE8 lets you switch your default search provider, but it also allows you to switch search engines on the fly. When you type in a search term, icons for alternate search engines appear at the bottom of the suggestion list, and you need only click on these to see search results from, say, Google, instead of Microsoft’s own Live search engine.

IE8’s Accelerators feature presents a blue-arrow icon above any text on a Web page that you have selected. Clicking on the icon brings up a list of actions you can take using the selected text, such as posting it to a blog, emailing it, mapping it or searching it. While these actions are set by default to use Microsoft’s own Web services, you can change them to use Google’s, Yahoo’s, or those from other companies.

Microsoft has also built in a feature called Web Slices. These are portions of a Web site that a site developer can designate to appear in the IE8 Favorites bar and to constantly update themselves. An example might be the bidding for an item on Chrome, IE8 also displays useful information whenever you create a new tab, including a list of recently closed tabs and a list of Accelerators.

With the emergence of Chrome, consumers have a new and innovative browser choice, and with IE8, the new browser war is sure to be a worthy contest.

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