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Google has released the beta version of a new browser called Chrome four days ago.  As a big fan of Google, I didn’t waste any minutes and immediately tried out the new browser   So far, I am very impressed with Chrome’s performance and its smart interface.  Like Google search engine, Chrome is speedy.  It takes less time to launch the application and access Web sites with Chrome than IE, Safari, Opera, or even Firefox.  

With the explosion of the Web 2.0 applications, Google sees the Web as a platform for the software applications that currently run directly on computer operating systems.  Google believes that the future, more powerful and sophisticated Web applications will rely heavily on javascript.  Chrome was designed to be the fastest browser at handling javascript.  Interestingly, Chrome is based on the open-source project Webkit, the same rendering engine used by Apple Safari. If a page renders in Safari, it will render in Chrome. Webkit is also the basis for Android, Google’s mobile platform.  Apparently, Google is planning to use Chrome in mobile environments as well.

When you launch Chrome from your system, you can tell it looks quite different from other browsers on the market today.  Google wants Chrome to focus on the applications and pages viewed by the users rather than on the border with its tools.  From the browser window, you will not find any text or window bar at the top of the browser window.  Also, there are no traditional menus. No “File,” “Edit,” “View,” “History,” “Bookmarks,” and “Tools” menus like Firefox.  So, it is kind of scary for the first minutes of working with Chrome.   However, you have a wrench for a selection of customization settings and a button to the left of that where you access the menu items you normally find in “File,” “Edit,” and “Tools,” along with a Developer option.

Like many first time Chrome users, the “tabs-on-top” interface is kind of strange at first. I got so used to tabs being below the URL bar.  However, I feel more comfortable after using it for the past few days.  You can open a Web page in a separate tab.  It is interesting that each tab in Chrome is running independently in the browser.  So, if one application crashes will not take down the entire browser.  This is a great feature.  Also, Chrome groups related tabs.  If you open a new tab from a link in a page that is already open, that new tab appears next to the originating page, rather than at the end of the row of tab.  In addition, you can drag tabs out of the browser to create new browser windows or gather multiple tabs into one window.

There is no separate search bar from Chrome. The address bar, Web search bar, and Web history bar are combined into one search box/address bar called omnibox. So, you basically conduct everything from this ominbox. If you type anything but a URL into the omnibox, Chrome will do a search instead. When you enter the URL or keyword in the address bar, Chrome will provide you suggestions for both search and Web pages. So, I typed “y,” my Website [yuen.us] was ready for me to load into browser. It was nice and convenience.

Another good feature offered by Chrome is the thumbnail of your top sites. When you launch Chrome or open a new tab, you will find a set of thumbnails of your most visited pages, lists of recent search engines you have used, recently used bookmarks, as well as recently closed tabs. In addition, you can use Web application such as Facebook without opening your browser. You can simply create application shortcuts from Chrome that allows Web applications load directly. Finally, you can choose incognito mode for private browsing. Using the incognito mode will not allow the pages you visit to show up in your Web history.

Currently, only the Windows version of Chrome (Windows Vista/XP SP2) is available for download. Unfortunately, Mac and Linux users will have to wait much longer time to try out Chrome. Google has released Chrome in 43 languages and in 122 countries.

I have been testing Chrome for about four days.  Personally, I think Chrome has made a great start considering this is the first beta version.  Chrome is speedy, smart, and clean browser.   However, Google wants Chrome more than a Web browser and hopes to make Chrome a sort of Web operating system that will eventually challenge Windows and Macintosh one day.  Well, we will wait and see…

If you have already used Chrome as well as other browsers, I am interested to know your choice of favorite browser.  Here is an opportunity for you to vote for your favorite browser.   Thanks.

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