Friday, April 17, 2009

Google Chrome browser Can it beat IE and Firefox?

We have been testing the new Google Chrome browser and so far the application has its positives and negatives.

Google now directly competes against Microsoft and Firefox and with the release of its new web browser, Chrome. The browser is a small and fast applications that is not full featured as IE or Firefox, but it makes up for it with its speed. Chrome has received a tremendous amount of press and reviewes and lives up to the hype by creating a whole new idea in web browsing using clever and convenient changes that make browsing the web faster than Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 or Mozilla's Firefox 3.

The software is only available for download for Windows Vista and XP, but Google plans to expand Chrome to Mac and Linux platforms as well. The installation of the Chrome browser is easy and fast and Chrome automatically detects the current web browser you use and prompts you through the process of installation. When you first run the application, Chrome imports your bookmarks, passwords, and settings from Firefox or Internet Explorer. It even can grab username and password data, and it automatically populates those fields for you when you use Chrome for the first time to visit any sites, so startup is a snap.

After running through the installation, Chrome opens and immediately you begin to experience the internet in a new way. Chrome's layout is very simple. You will see a row of tabs that runs along the top, a web address bar, and a bookmarks bar that runs beneath the address bar. A separate recent bookmarks box appears at the right of the screen. No Google Toolbar which is a big miss.

Like all Google products, Chrome has a remarkably minimalist client. There is no full-scale menu bar and no title bar and few distractions. All controls are buried beneath two icons to the right of the address bar. A page icon for managing tabs and using Google Gears to create application like shortcuts from your desktop to a Web site; and a wrench for history, downloads, and other browser options.

You can set your own home page, or you can use the most visited sites page as your starting point. This page provides thumbnail images of your most frequently visited sites, shows recent bookmarks, and supplies a search field for searching your page history. You can change your default search engine. This option is located beneath the wrench icon, under Options . Chrome's design bridges the gap between desktop and the new term "cloud computing." At the touch of a button, Chrome lets you make a desktop, Start menu, or QuickLaunch shortcut to any web page or Web application, blurring the line between what's online and what's inside your PC.

For example, you can create a desktop shortcut for applications like Google Maps. When you create a shortcut for a Web application, Chrome strips all of the toolbars and tabs from the window, leaving you with something that feels much more like a desktop application than like a Web application or page. It needs some work as the lack of forward and back buttons means that if you browse between pages in a saved web application you may find yourself a little confused if you want to go back a page. Chrome does let you right-click to navigate backward, but its an extra step.

Search is an integral part of Chrome; and Google has added some great features to make searching the internet easier. Chrome goes beyond its competition by searching your browser history's page titles as well page content. The history results show the title of the page, as well as a thumbnail representation of the page, but it doesn't show the actual Web page address. The lack of URL information can make it difficult to identify the specific Web page you're going to, especially if the site's title bar description is not specific.

Chrome includes a number of features that appear in other browsers, such as a private browsing mode, tools for web developers to use in viewing and troubleshooting source code, and the ability to restore all tabs from a previous session. Chrome also features tab isolation: If a Web page causes a problem with Chrome and leads to a crash, the crash will affect only the tab displaying the page and not the whole program. Internet Explorer 8 will offer a similar feature, but Chrome takes the idea a step further by adding a task manager that gives the user an idea of how much memory and CPU use a page is eating up, and by allowing you to kill anything that is causing a problem.

Chrome features a bookmarks manager and uses a two-pane layout: The left-hand pane displays folders of bookmarks, and the right-hand pane shows the contents of bookmark folders. A search field is in the upper-right corner of the bookmarks manager window, and results appear as you type.

By default, Chrome will not restore your session; if Chrome crashes, it takes everything with it unless you manually configure the browser to act otherwise. In contrast, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 automatically restore your previous session in the event of a failure. Sites visited that run JavaScript and Ajax work fine, but Microsoft's Silverlight does not support Chrome at this time, even though it works with Safari, which uses the same WebKit browser engine as Chrome.

Google has produced an excellent browser that is friendly enough to handle average browsing activities without complicating the tasks, but at the same time is powerful enough to meet the needs of advanced users. I would definately recommend you test drive Chrome and see if it works for you as an alternative, the big bonus is the boost in page load speed.

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