After much speculation over the years, Google have announced the release of their own web browser, Chrome, via this online comic book.
They’re claiming greater stability, more speed, better security and a new approach to browsers based on their 21st Century use (social media, interaction, video etc.) Like Firefox, it will be open source, meaning other developers can work on the browser and make their own improvements, plug-ins etc.
One of the big things is multi-threading – allowing the browser to get on with doing other things whilst waiting for another process to complete. This will make interaction much quicker and smoother, but the real need for this comes from the use of the browser as a home for applications. If you’ve used Google Docs or other online applications, you’ll be familiar with their restrictions – a multi-threaded browser takes it much closer to an operating system that can support “proper” applications. This is Google taking the big fight to Microsoft.
So what does this mean? Well, it will be interesting to see how and if Google continues to support Firefox. That’s unlikely to change for a while, as TechCrunch reported that they have outbid everyone to be the default search engine in Firefox for the next three years. However, you can’t see that being the case forever more.
Microsoft is bound to get excited – Internet Explorer 8 is in development and will apparently have some new features, but nothing to rival the “ground-up” approach that Google has taken. If Chrome starts making our popular websites and applications run faster/better (think Facebook, YouTube etc.), Microsoft has a problem, never mind the enormous marketing clout that Google can exert.
Finally, spare a thought for the humble web developer, who will now have three PC browsers plus Safari and other minor players to develop for! Testing across several versions of IE and FF is already a depressing task, adding a completely new rendering engine to the game could have significant impacts on development time (although with Google’s test-driven development, that’s unlikely). Nevertheless, there will be a period of time where some websites run better on some browsers than other, or have more functions/work faster on Chrome while the others catch up.