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Hands-On with Google Chrome

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Just when we thought we had seen the last of the browser wars, Google is stepping into the foray with a browser of its own. The search engine giant released a beta of its new open source browser, Google Chrome. Competing with Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox, and Apple's Safari, among others, Chrome was made available for download today and after giving it a quick spin, here are our initial impressions:

What we like:

  • The browser has a clean interface. There are no permanent status bars or toolbars to distract you. In addition, pages like ESPN.com and Hulu.com load rapidly and the browser itself launches in a blink of an eye.
  • Chrome works on a multiprocess design. This means each of the browser's tabs run as their own isolated process — if one tab crashes, the other tabs will remain untouched. Although we didn't experience any crashes with Chrome, the fact that it's a multiprocess browser is a huge boon to people who work with multiple tabs.
  • Chrome's Tab page keeps track of your most-visited Web pages and displays them in thumbnail view. This is great way to scan sites that you frequent a lot.
  • Incognito mode: Google Chrome gives you the option of browsing incognito, so websites you visit, files you download, and any new cookies you stumble across are either deleted or not tracked in your browsing history.
  • The Omnibox: Like Firefox, Chrome's address bar box can also be used as the search box so you don't have to browse to a search engine to perform searches.
  • You can drag a tab from the browser to your desktop to create a new window, and likewise if you have an open window and want to embed one tag into another window, you can do so by dragging it in between the tabs you want it to reside in.
What we dislike:
  • Mac users are once again left in the dark. Google says it's working on an Apple-friendly version of its browser for the future, but no release date has been given.
  • As the folks at News.com point out, Chrome's terms of service indicates we may see ads on the browser itself. It's highly speculative at this point, but not entirely improbable.
  • Although Chrome's tabs system is very organized, we don't like that you can't scroll left to right when you have multiple tabs open. So for instance, if you have 20 tabs open at once, it'll display all 20 tabs simultaneously, whereas Firefox would hide them.
Overall, we're very impressed with Google's new browser. It's still in its infancy stage, so Firefox fans who are used to plug-in support may want to stick with the latter before they make the jump to Chrome. Nevertheless, it's a promising start, which can hopefully only improve with time.

Louis Ramirez is dealnews' Features Editor.

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