Brother, this thing is fast. Faster than anything I can remember seeing. And, it's
free, albeit right now for Windows only.
It's Google's Chrome Web broswer, (www.google.com/chrome) released last week and it
upstaged Microsoft's coming Internet Explorer 8 browser, now in Beta release.
Something "leaked" on Monday and soon the Internet was abuzz. The announcement came
Tuesday and after that, the deluge.
Chrome, which is promised shortly for Mac and Linux users, installs rapidly, boots
instantly and offers incredibly fast access to Web pages. There's one site I often
frequent (name withheld to protect the guilty) which loads uniformly slowly on every
browser I've tried. Fire it up with Chrome and the page bursts into view. This is,
frankly, how the Internet should work.
And it's almost always how the Internet works with Chrome, a browser built on
something called WebKit, which is an open source browser engine at the heart
of Apple's Safari. But even unlike Safari, Chrome just blazes ahead. It seems
unencumbered of much of the overhead of many browsers; what's more, Google's
engineers have designed the thing intelligently. New Web addresses open in tabs;
popups are blocked by default, but you can open the ones you want or need; and I've
not run into many pages (make that "any") where the display isn't faithful to the
On launching Chrome, you get a visual menu of various Web pages you've visited
often. Click on one such image and, boom, you're there. Bookmarks are available, and
typing a Website location in the address bar actually, beginning to type it
will have Chrome rush to guess your desired location. Most of the time, they're
The screen display is clean; there's not much to distract you here. A feature
also said to be available on IE8 will let you browse "incognito," as Google says,
omitting any caching of history or images or Web address on your PC. Less-charitable
folks have called this "porn mode," while I'd rather see it as keeping the boss out
of my business mode.
Chrome will definitely meet needs in the marketplace, especially once word gets out
about how fast it is. I can't mention this enough, and I don't know how to put the
speed into words, other than to suggest that if you blink, you might miss a Web page
loading. Like I said, this is how the Internet should be.
Now the drawbacks: even though Google touts Chrome as something that'll run Web
applications faster, forget, for now, about using Adobe Corp.'s Buzzword on it. I'm
not sure how the online Photoshop Elements site'll function there. Google's own
online applications, such as Google Documents, run very well there, as you might
Press reports have suggested some security vulnerabilities. And, since this is
running on Windows, it's not unreasonable to think hackers will target Chrome.
But overall, this is one of the most amazing products and product launches
I've seen in a very long time. A piece of software that lives up to the hype,
mostly, and which supports users fairly well. I wish it did everything, and I wish
it ran on every platform today, but think of Chrome as the Sarah Palin of Web
browsers: emerging from nowhere and hitting it out of the park.
Microsoft will doubtless have its own accomplishments to tout with IE8, which,
unlike Chrome, won't be available on Mac or Linux platforms. And Safari is
available, free, for Windows users. Toss in Opera and Firefox, and you've got plenty
of choices in the browser market. For now, however, Chrome is brightly burnished.