If you thought that the one thing the world needed was another web browser, then I've got some good news for you: search giant Google has officially launched its own entry into the Internet Explorer-dominated market, dubbed Chrome.

In keeping with almost every advanced feature Google brings out these days – from blog searching to e-mail – the browser is in open beta, but it's already getting plenty of attention. Built on an open-source platform – the source is already available from Google Code – Chrome ticks a lot of boxes for your average web browser. Built around Apple's Webkit, the software has all the usual features including an in-built high-performance Javascript engine, tabbed browsing, and the increasingly popular private browsing mode dubbed “incognito mode” to keep your late-night 'special time' private. Each tab is also created as a 'sandbox' environment, which – in theory – means that a crash in the browser caused by a coding problem on a website will only cause that individual page to close, not the entire browser.

Ars Technica's Ryan Paul has spent some time playing with Google's latest creation, and has come to the following conclusions: calling the user interface “extremely minimalistic” and the overall layout “reminiscent of Opera,” Paul says that the browser features “nice visual flourishes” which “improve usability without disrupting the flow of user interaction.” With just one day of experience, however, he has spotted a few bugs: unlike other browsers, Chrome doesn't seem to have anything in place for when you open a metric shedload of tabs; rather than overflowing onto a drop-down menu or making the tab bar slide across, the tabs simply shrink until the labels vanish.

While the interface could do with some work, the news is significantly better under the hood: CNet reports that the browser bests the stable versions of both Firefox 3 and Internet Explorer 7 in the Acid3 web-standards tests, scoring 78 percent compared to Firefox's 71 and IE7's rather pathetic 14. The only final release browser to score higher is Opera, with 83 percent. While demonstrating Google's commendable commitment to open web standards, the comparison is a trifle unfair: after all, Chrome is still very much a beta product. When comparing development builds rather than release builds, the story is somewhat different: Chrome's 78 percent suddenly pales in comparison to Firefox 3.1 Beta 1 at 85 percent, is left in the dust by Opera's 91 percent, and the deathblow is dealt by Apple's Safari 4 Developer Preview which scores a mindblowing 100 percent on the Acid3 test.

Javascript support is also included in the beta build of Chrome – well, it's a de facto requirement these days – via Google's own V8 engine, which is again open-source. Scoring well in system load and speed tests, it's clear that whatever Chrome's other shortcomings are, Javascript performance is unlikely to be among them.

Available for download now, the Chrome browser is going to be an interesting one to watch – coming, as it does, from the world's most successful Internet company.

Have any of you already tried Chrome, and if so what were your impressions? Do you think Google is well positioned in the market to make a go of its browser, or is this release just likely to fragment an already divided marketplace? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
Discuss this in the forums

QUICK COMMENT

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

WEEK IN REVIEW

TOP STORIES

SUGGESTED FOR YOU