Google enters Web browser market with Chrome

Google sure knows how to light up the news sites and blogosphere – release a brand new Web browser! Called Chrome, it’s Google’s foray into a once-crowded market that is now dominated by just 2 players (at least on Windows) – Microsoft and Mozilla.

Everyone else has reported on and given their opinion, so why not another?! I did download and test out Chrome. I would have been disappointed if I was not impressed by at least one feature of a brand new Google product and the big G did not let me down.

Chrome was built from the ground up with one particularly important goal – memory management. Firefox is an amazing browser, but being a single process, Javascript/DHTML-heavy apps have the ability to pull down/freeze your entire FF instance. Not so with Chrome – each tab is practically its own little instance. Just take a look in your Task Manager to see the surface of how this is working.

Chrome uses the open source V8 Javascript virtual machine that compiles JS code into machine code. This contributes immensely to how fast Chrome is. Just pull up Google Maps, Gmail, Netvibes, or some other JS-heavy webpage and be amazed. You can also read the entertaining comic book that the Googlers put together to describe the thinking and technical basis for Chrome.

So having said all of these very positive things about Chrome, sadly, I’m not about to switch any time soon. Firefox is more than just a browser to me – it’s a platform. My approximately 2 dozen extensions turn it into this environment that I use to help me fine-tune and more efficiently navigate the Web. A great example is that I’m writing this blog entry using ScribeFire. While you can argue that it’s not the best tool, I contend that it works best for me, so it is.

But do download and give Chrome a shot. You’ll be glad you did. I’m curious to know if you return to Firefox (or not).

By the way, I spoke with a Google employee today who jokingly asked me if Chrome would take over the world. I thought about it and realized that Google could reasonably hope to get half of Firefox’s share, but making a dent in IE’s stranglehold on the majority of people who use their computers in the default configuration is obviously difficult. FF is still only at 20% market share and it’s not growing the way it should considering for how long FF has been the superior browser.

I do hope that Brin and company were serious in saying that they would continue working closely with Firefox. Perhaps there’s a XUL-based Firefox with a Chrome heart in our futures!