Chrome Sweet Chrome

To celebrate its 10th birthday, Google has brought us Chrome, a stripped-down approach to the web browser that's designed for just one thing: speed. Or two things, if you include Google's ongoing quest for world domination. We're sure you've played with it already, but its worth reiterating it's key feature: a new JavaScript engine that promises much better performance, particularly with Ajax apps. In benchmark tests, it's considerably faster than the beta of IE8 and version 3.0.1 of Firefox, although we found that 3.1's TraceMonkey engine - still incomplete as we went to press- was as fast, if not faster, with a smaller memory footprint.

However, Chrome beats Firefox in one crucial area: it gives each tab a seperate process, so if a site or application fails in one tab it wont bring the entire browser down with it. For developers, the prospect of faster, more reliable applications is mouth-watering. And the good news for designers and developers alike is that you dont need to worry about supporting yet another browser engine, because Chrome uses a version of the Webkit engine we already know from Safari.

For now, Chrome is in very early Windows-only beta, with other platforms and key features, such as extensions API, expected in future releases. However, we're not convinced that its going to become a mainstream browser in a world where a serious number of people are still using IE6. Then again, maybe that isn't Google's ultimate plan. It's released Chrome ( as open source to 'help build a safer, faster and more stable way for all internet users to experience the web", and, as Google software engineer Lars Bak notes: "Raising the performance bar of JavaScript is important for continued innovation of web applications."

Anything that makes JavaScript perform better makes Google's apps better - and as long as peaople are using it's apps, Google doesn't care what browser they use.


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