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Google's Chrome - a First Blush Look

Google's Chrome - a First Blush Look

by , 4:50 PM EDT, September 3rd, 2008

Chrome is Google's first attempt at adding a Web Browser to its suite of Internet Services. It's still in beta, and the first version is only available for Windows XP/Vista -- with a Mac version in the works. This reporter took a quick look to see what Google has done.

The browser was run within Windows XP SP3 on a MacBook Pro within Parallels Desktop. The installation was fast and painless and before long, there was a Chrome shortcut on the Windows Desktop. The app appeared to launch in less than a second.

At first, one is put off by the lack of a menu bar. The app is quit with the traditional 'x' in the upper right. In time one learns that the major functions are all combined in the two icons on the upper right that are popups. However, some things that a full fledged browser would naturally have, "open from file" and "print" do not yet seem to exist.


Google Chrome Beta for Windows

Opening tabs and browsing is fast and Chrome can be set to remember where you've been recently with nice thumbnails, in the style of OmniWeb. [See the screen shot above.] There is no separate search edit field -- the address bar doubles as the search field.

All in all, the browser, it least in its current beta state, seems a little unfinished and alien to the normal Mac and PC user. Time will tell if the new metaphor for dealing with the GUI is an advance or simply part of the beta growing pains.

Walt Mossberg has had a week to test Chrome and gave it a very positive review, worth investigating. Mr. Mossberg got into the real reason why Google developed its own browser, namely the war with Microsoft and the concerns Google has over what Microsoft might do in IE8 to leverage its desire to compete in the search business. Google sees the browser instrumental to its business model, but whether they can seduce enough Windows users away from Safari and IE8 to achieve that goal is too early to call.

Finally, there was a bit of a tempest in a chrome teapot, to use the words of ars technica, on the wording of the EULA, but that has all been fixed. Google's Rebecca Ward, Senior Product Counsel for Google Chrome told ars technica on Wednesday that the offending text in section 11 has been retroactively removed.

Given the political slant of Google's new browser to protect its turf and the fact that it's still Windows only, Macintosh users probably don't need to be in a big hurry to try out this browser unless they're set up with virtualization software and Windows and are simply curious to see what all the fuss is about.

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