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Google Businesses The Internet Software

Google Chrome, the Google Browser 807

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the fun-unfounded-rumor dept.
Philipp Lenssen writes "Google announced their very own browser project called Google Chrome — an announcement in the form of a comic book drawn by Scott McCloud, no less. Google says Google Chrome will be open source, include a new JavaScript virtual machine, include the Google Gears add-on by default, and put the tabs above the address bar (not below), among other things. I've also uploaded Google's comic book with all the details (details given from Google's perspective, anyway... let's see how this holds up). While Google provided the URL www.google.com/chrome there's nothing up there yet."
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Google Chrome, the Google Browser

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  • Very Interesting... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:09PM (#24832259) Homepage Journal

    I imagine the first question on everyone's mind will be, "Why do we need a new web browser?" To which I imagine the truthful answer is: "We don't. At least not for technical reasons."

    I believe what Google is looking to accomplish is to trade on their brand name in an attempt to further dislodge Internet Explorer.

    Remember when AOL purchased Netscape? AOL didn't care about the browser in the slightest. They wanted Netscape for the brand name. To the vast majority of users, Netscape was the Internet.

    Google has since taken that place. Google is the Internet to many people. So much so that Google has felt compelled to to prevent the genericizing [independent.co.uk] of their mark.

    In this particular case, however, the strength of their mark works to Google's advantage. They have already convinced millions of users to install their desktop software. If they can further convince millions of users to install and use their browser, they can cause enough of a disruption to finally remove IE's leadership in the browser market. Especially given the solid work already done by FireFox, Opera, and Safari. With only another 10% marketshare loss on the whole, even the most stubborn websites will be forced to support third party browsers. And once they support third party browser, it will be very little time before the technological superiority of the alternative browsers causes them to add special features not available for Internet Explorer users.

    It will be Netscape vs. Internet Explorer all over again. Except that instead of two giants fighting it out, it will be Microsoft against everyone else. And when everyone else happens to be giants in their own right, Microsoft's prospects will start looking rather grim.

    In effect, this move is a blow aimed squarly at Redmond. Not for the purposes of truth, justice, and the freedom of all mankind; as I'm sure many will imagine. Rather, for the purpose of hitting back at Microsoft for their attempts to leverage their monopoly in promoting MSN Search over Google. The only difference is that Google Search is a good product and it is entrenched. Internet Explorer hasn't been a good product since Microsoft stopped developing it nearly 8 years ago (piss-poor upgrades pretending to be standards-compliant not withstanding), and its entrenchments are slowly falling to competition.

    • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:19PM (#24832339)

      To the vast majority of users, Netscape was the Internet.

      Google has since taken that place. Google is the Internet to many people. So much so that Google has felt compelled to to prevent the genericizing [independent.co.uk] of their mark.

      Well I'd better do some googling to find out about that.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:20PM (#24832349)

      I imagine the first question on everyone's mind will be, "Why do we need a new web browser?" To which I imagine the truthful answer is: "We don't. At least not for technical reasons."

      To take advantage of the forefront in "tabs at the top" technology, of course. I am personally very excited that science has progressed to the point where we can now have tabs above the address bar.

      • by ip_vjl (410654) on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:29PM (#24832487) Homepage

        I know you're being snarky, but if you actually think about it, the address bar really *does* belong under the tab bar.

        The address is a property of the current page. Placing it above the tabs puts it into the same space as the persistent elements like the file/edit menus. Those are application-wide. Below the tabs puts it into the same space as the page content, which makes sense as it isn't an application-wide property, but is directly related to the selected tab.

        I'd never thought about it before, and can't say I'm bothered with the current setup (address above the tabs) but there is a sense to it.

        • by foobsr (693224) on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:39PM (#24832661) Homepage Journal
          the address bar really *does* belong under the tab bar

          Not that I care, but maybe the "user" perceives the content of tabs & current page as more related while not being aware of the address of the current page at all.

          CC.
        • by arth1 (260657) on Monday September 01, 2008 @02:06PM (#24832995) Homepage Journal

          if you actually think about it, the address bar really *does* belong under the tab bar.

          Judging by the rest of your post, what you really mean is that the address bar does belong with the page. But so do tabs. The active tab is directly connected with the page that's displayed.

          Since both the address bar and the tabs both can't be right above the page proper, another solution is then to place either the tabs or the address bar below the page. Yes, below it. Or place the tabs at the side, like most normal books with tabs.

          Personally, I'd like to see the address bar at the bottom, which fits with the GUI paradigm of a shell, where your input is always at the bottom, or instant messaging programs, where the input is at the bottom, or line editors, where -- you catch my drift.
          But people are easily confused, and probably too used to the URL field being at the top, so it might be better to place the tabs at the bottom (or the sides).

          • by Antibozo (410516) on Monday September 01, 2008 @02:16PM (#24833119) Homepage
            Tabs at the sides is correct. Otherwise you end up with illegible tab titles once you pass five or six tabs. See my other comment about this [slashdot.org].
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jlarocco (851450)

          Believe it or not, that's actually one of the reasons I don't use Firefox. That, and the related problem that it only lets one tab be visible at once. I can't, for example, view two tabs side by side or above/below each other.

          Even if they fixed everything else, those two issues would keep me away.

      • by Jorophose (1062218) on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:35PM (#24832603)

        You've never used Opera have you?

        Default look is tabs (well, more like mini windows unlike binder tabs) over the adress bar. =/

      • by risk one (1013529) on Monday September 01, 2008 @02:02PM (#24832953)

        And there's more:

        Chrome has a privacy mode; Google says you can create an "incognito" window "and nothing that occurs in that window is ever logged on your computer." The latest version of Internet Explorer calls this InPrivate. Google's use-case for when you might want to use the "incognito" feature is e.g. to keep a surprise gift a secret. As far as Microsoft's InPrivate mode is concerned, people also speculated it was a "porn mode."

        They've taken IE's disgusting perverted porn mode idea that only perverts would use, and put it in their own browser so now you can use it to keep your wholesome family activity like buying surprise gifts for your loving husband or your precious children, a delightful little secret for now. Finally, a browser for good-old fashioned God fearing Americans like you and me. Gosh, those perverts at Microsoft, a porn mode! Who would imagine such a thing...

    • by cca93014 (466820) on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:24PM (#24832419) Homepage

      To the vast majority of users, Netscape was the Internet.

      It's true. My dad refers to the *entire internet* as Google. Sigh.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 117 (1013655)
        I know plenty of people that don't use the address bar at all, they Google for every website (other than those in their bookmarks) even when they know the full URL. Only the other day I wanted to show a friend of mine a beta of a new website for a record label we liked, as the site is only in beta it's not indexed - I read out the URL and he proceeded to type it into the Google search box, I questioned this and he said that that's what he always does. He then couldn't get his head round the fact that the
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:30PM (#24832515)

      Actually the question on my mind is what's going to happen to Mozilla? As I remember, they get most of their backing from Google generously paying for the traffic they get from Mozilla's search plugin. If Google cancels that deal (and they very well might, if they have a competing browser), Mozilla will lose most of its cash-flow very suddenly.

      So with fierce competition from webkit and Opera and a lot less money all of a sudden, and a browser from Google that does anything just as well as FF does it and a few things better, Mozilla may be left struggling. This may not be such a terrible thing, Mozilla grew from nothing, it could be an important lesson to go back there, but they may not survive going from being one of the best funded web browsers to one of the worst funded web browsers in just a few months.

      • by Locklin (1074657) on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:38PM (#24832655) Homepage

        Google doesn't pay Mozilla because they like firefox. They pay because Mozilla drives millions of hits to Google's search engine. As long as firefox is doing that, Google will pay (although, I'm sure they will only freely advertise their own browser now).

      • by Firehed (942385) on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:56PM (#24832877) Homepage

        That's certainly true to a point; however, rigging up a monetized Google Custom Search is all of five minutes work. The behavior to a search at google.com is a tiny bit different (you can also weight the results with keywords; I find this quite helpful for my development work), but the biggest change for them would be that they'd have to change the default home page from google.com/mozillasearch to mozilla.com/googlesearch, and the search box accordingly.

        Do know that the Google search isn't anything near their only source of funding. The Amazon search in that top-right search box is an Amazon Affiliate search - tag=mozilla-20 gets added into your Amazon search URL, and they get a minimum of 4% of the purchase price provided you went through their affiliate link last (I don't see why people gripe about this kind of thing so often, it only costs Amazon money, not the purchaser). With the volume that probably does, it's more like 6-8% on most items.

        I'm sure that there are plenty of other sources of income for Mozilla, though I'd expect those are the biggest two. And both are structured in such a way that they'd have to be personally blocked from using the affiliate program (unlikely, especially given the bad press), or the program itself would have to be shut down entirely (even more unlikely, as half the internet gets its funding from these things).

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by PAjamian (679137)

        Actually the question on my mind is what's going to happen to Mozilla? As I remember, they get most of their backing from Google generously paying for the traffic they get from Mozilla's search plugin. If Google cancels that deal (and they very well might, if they have a competing browser), Mozilla will lose most of its cash-flow very suddenly.

        I can't see that happening. If Google canceled that deal they would loose all that traffic they get from FireFox users. They want to pull more people off of IE and onto a browser that uses google search by default. I doubt whether they care much if it's their browser or FF, just adding Google browser to the mix will add another front to the war that MS has to fight.

    • by DrEldarion (114072) on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:32PM (#24832555)

      From the article:

      One aim of V8 was to speed up JavaScript performance in the browser, as it's such an important component on the web today.

      This is probably one of the main reasons they've done it. They've been trying to push applications on the web, and the speed hasn't been completely impressive. With faster JavaScript execution, their products are much more viable.

      • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:44PM (#24832737) Homepage Journal

        They've been trying to push applications on the web, and the speed hasn't been completely impressive.

        Safari, FireFox, and Opera (in that order) have been showing marked improvements in Javascript performance. To the point where Javascript performance is a major point of competition. Microsoft's JScript engine is currently the slowest Javascript engine on the browser market. (As I can personally attest after running sophisticated sorting algorithms through it.) So the problem still comes back to Internet Explorer.

    • by DrYak (748999) on Monday September 01, 2008 @02:32PM (#24833255) Homepage

      I imagine the first question on everyone's mind will be, "Why do we need a new web browser?" To which I imagine the truthful answer is: "We don't. At least not for technical reasons."

      No, sorry, but there's a big honking huge reason :
      Multiple process.

      This is going to greatly improve stability of browsing.

      Currently, all browsers run a 1 single process (well with some exception for some browser plugins in Firefox - mostly the opensource one - which use a thin plugins to call an external processus like gnash or mplayer).

      If anything fucks up (and boy that happens often with Flash plugin in Linux) the whole browser is gone.
      If there's a bug in the engine (automatic dictionary recognition was broken when switching between tabs from one textarea straight into another), the whole browser is down.
      If there's a freeze (old-style virus scanning plugins in Firefox or on-the-fly scan in Windows) the whole browser is inusable.

      All this could be averted if each page and each plugin was enforced to run in a separate process.
      In worst case you would only lose the current page.
      Flash would only crash its very own process, buggy pages will only crash alone without taking down the whole browser. Virus scan won't stop the user browsing in other tabs.

      And as a side effect, this kind of organisation will better benefit from the current crop of 4x and 3x cores desktop CPUs.

      I've been dreaming for a good multi-process browser for ages.
      I'm just astonished that it comes in the form of a new project from google and not as a complete rewrite of the Firefox browser.

      But maybe Firefox has slowly reached the point where it is past it's revolutionary golden period and is now simply polishing it's current model but isn't going to switch to something new (just like "Mozilla 1.x" did stagnate until FireFox/FireBird/Phoenix emerge)

      Or maybe Chrome will be the slight stimulation that Mozilla needed to stop masturbate over their growing market share and return back to revolutionize the browsing experience.

      PS:
      According to the comic, Google Chrom won't use a simple address bar, but what they call an "omni-bar".
      Cue in all whine boys who where complaining about Mozilla's switch to "awesome bar" in FireFox 3.

  • Ha! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Warll (1211492) on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:15PM (#24832307) Homepage
    Found the comic link: http://blogoscoped.com/google-chrome/ [blogoscoped.com]
  • by conner_bw (120497) on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:23PM (#24832397) Homepage Journal

    it's called unsubstantiated and is located here: www.ibm.com/unsubstantiated

    Dunno why the page appears to be down though?

  • It's the homepage (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bogtha (906264) on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:23PM (#24832407)

    These days, there isn't much to differentiate between browsers as far as end-users are concerned. A "smart homepage" is a very effective way of capturing a user's interest, providing significant convenience, and making it less likely for them to switch away. Opera have started down this road with their speed dial feature, but Google seem to be taking it a big step further. Google have tried this once before, with iGoogle [google.com], but building it into the browser means they can incorporate things like surfing history and bookmarks to determine which websites are most important to a user without needing manual configuration in the same way an online homepage would.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by adolf (21054)

      Pardon me, but I'm a bit stunned that anyone might think this is the real reason Google might make a browser.

      Cuz, I mean, we all remember how well it worked for Netscape. Don't we?

      First, this [archive.org] happened to the world's most popular browser, as it grew to include a kitchen sink. Then, a little over a year later, AOL happened [cnet.com] to Netscape. Mere days later, it was revealed [archive.org] what AOL's real intentions were. They later disbanded what was left of Netscape. And today, nobody gives a shit about AOL's $4,200,000,000

  • by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:27PM (#24832469)

    Now they can monitor everything you do easier...

    Google is a marketing company, and in the past has used nefarious ad tracking to even Firefox searches reporting information to the Google servers.

    Now they want a browser? Why? What reason would they need for a new browser?

    So instead of putting full support behind a 'generic' Firefox, they want to enter the market so they can gather even more information from the user.

    Nice... Geesh

    Sadly they will get some of the Dell and other bundling deals, because they can afford to pay these companies to put this browser on machines, and most users won't know what is going on behind, even if the tech community finds Google doing the most nefarious things possible with the browser.

    This type of concern makes the IE8 privacy mode and blocking sites from tracking users the 'non-evil' choice.

    What was Google's ad hoc motto again, and was it just words after all?

    • Competition is a good thing. Google can push to improve the features they'd like to improve in this browser; if it's better than firefox and IE, it'll push those to improve as well. It benefits nobody to become complacent. Moreover, by making KHTML/Webkit an even more important rendering engine, it will become less possible to ignore web standards and code to the browsers that happen to be out there. Since it's going to be open source, I don't think there's anything to worry about here, really.
    • by MrCoke (445461) on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:39PM (#24832663)

      It's open source. I'm sure a project of this magnitude will get lots of looking eyes. Good resource pool for Google to spot talent too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Now they want a browser? Why? What reason would they need for a new browser? So instead of putting full support behind a 'generic' Firefox, they want to enter the market so they can gather even more information from the user.

      That's a pretty big assumption. Since this browser will be open sourced, it's not like they'll be able to hide any tracking. My best guess is they have different motivations. First, this gives them a good project to help contribute to Webkit, which in turn benefits them by further undermining Microsoft's market dominance. Second, it allows them to develop their own Java VM and faster javascripting and pages protected from one another and special windows for Web apps. All of those features point to making a

  • by qw0ntum (831414) on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:28PM (#24832477) Journal
    I wonder how this will affect Google's relationship with the Mozilla foundation? IIRC, Google is one of Mozilla's primary sources of funding, as they pay for the rights to be the default search engine on Firefox.
  • by martinw89 (1229324) on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:31PM (#24832539)
    • Google Chrome, Google's Browser
      Just when you thought Google wasn't going to get any cooler, we try desperately to prove you wrong.
    • Google Chrome, Google's Browser
      Don't worry, it won't be out of Beta until IE 10.
    • Google Chrome, Google's Browser
      Now with Omni Bar, the omniscient Awesome Bar
    • Google Chrome, Google's Browser
      Just when you thought data mining couldn't get any closer to home

    OK, in all seriousness I think it's nice to see another Webkit based browser around. I'm personally waiting to see the Epiphany team's Webkit based browser. Hopefully, Google's Chrome project will spur some innovations that the Firefox/Safari/Opera/IE competition has failed to supply. Maybe the JS engine will prove it's worth as well, speedups in this area are always nice.

  • Mozilla? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Phroggy (441) <slashdot3 AT phroggy DOT com> on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:35PM (#24832605) Homepage

    What does this mean for Mozilla, which currently gets most of its financial support from Google? If Google has their own browser which competes against Firefox, will they be inclined to reduce their support of Firefox?

    If not, it means Google will be paying for two competitors to Internet Explorer. I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft complains about unfair competition.

    In any event, if Google's aim is to further drive people away from IE, they'll have to spend some cash on advertising. Their target is people who are already familiar with Google's brand name, but believe the blue "e" is "how you get to Google." Some of these people launch IE and type "www.google.com" into the address bar every time they want to search for something, because their home page is set to MSN and they are unaware that it can be changed (or that other sites can be bookmarked), let alone know how to do so.

  • by onefriedrice (1171917) on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:43PM (#24832719)
    I don't think Google has enough of my personal information, so this will be just wonderful.
  • by ItsIllak (95786) on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:44PM (#24832735) Homepage

    For what it's worth, the 404 error page being served on http://www.google.com/chrome [google.com] is not their standard one - their standard one is to search for the whole url from the looks of things?

  • by lucm (889690) on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:44PM (#24832739)

    would be an *online browser*. Like Google docs. Imagine just how great it would be not to need a browser to go online. History, cookies, bookmarks, all stored on Google servers. Plus it would be incredibly fast since the internet is already on Google servers!

    Also that would be very convenient for Google, they could access our private information locally on their servers, no need to "call home". Hell they could even check with our e-bank statements to see how much money we can spend so they could offer really well-targeted ads.

    That would be huge. All they need for me to sign up is to throw in some features involving blogs, mashups and Spacebook.

  • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:48PM (#24832797) Homepage

    Did anyone else notice the number of current or former Firefox developers name-checked in that comic? Ben Goodger was the Firefox project lead until recently. The most significant part of this news may be that Google is pulling people off Firefox development (assuming they were contributing to Firefox while working there) and getting them to write a new browser. Still, Firefox is working pretty well and their financial future is secure for the next few years - thanks to wads of cash from Google - so we need not be too worried.

    Apart from that, my verdict is 'show us the code'. Announcements of future plans and vapourware are not really interesting, even when it's Google.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:53PM (#24832841)

    I've always liked Webkit, but am not as big a fan of Safari since it doesn't have the extensibility and flexibility of Firefox - so I'm going to follow this project closely. There may be some side stories to keep an eye on:

    - What will this do to Firefox? If Google Chrome is successful, I suspect it'll be at Firefox's expense rather than IE - at least in the near term.

    - What will this mean for Google's add-ons for other browsers? They talk specifically about the "Gears" developers' dissatisfaction with the way current browsers work as a primary motivator for this project. So does this mean Google's tools on browsers other than Chrome are going to become unwanted step-children? That's could hurt the other browsers (if Chrome is popular), but it could also turn around and bite Google.

    - What about the Mac (and Linux)? This is important to me, anyway. Google's Mac support is stellar in some areas and poor in others. Will Chrome's development on platforms other than Windows stay apace of its progress on Windows? Maybe the comic answers this, but I haven't managed to get all the way through it yet. I'm on page 10 and *still* there's no mention of any villian.

  • by anaesthetica (596507) on Monday September 01, 2008 @02:00PM (#24832923) Homepage Journal

    Based on Page 4 [blogoscoped.com], Google is designing the browser as if it were an operating system. This is something that I commented on previously in the discussion of Microsoft's approach to IE8 [slashdot.org]. Going from shared memory to protected memory was a big step for multitasking on the desktop, and since web applications are more and more complex, the same move needs to be made with browser design.

    If IE8 and "Google Chrome" are moving in this direction, what will we see from Safari and Firefox? Safari 4 betas give no indication of a fundamental re-architecting. Firefox 4 is still at least a year away, and so far no one in that community has been publicly talking about this kind of redesign. And Opera... who knows?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MasterVidBoi (267096)

      Going from shared memory to protected memory was a big step for multitasking on the desktop, and since web applications are more and more complex, the same move needs to be made with browser design

      Not really. Javascript doesn't allow arbitrary memory access, so there isn't any concept of an address space to share or separate. Nor is there any requirement that different web pages cannot execute concurrently.

      This is a VM/Renderer implementation detail, so that a bug in the browser itself only impacts one tab, but it doesn't do anything to actually improve the current programming model. If you were confident enough in your browser to securely and reliably handle all input, then there is no advantage

  • by ruinevil (852677) on Monday September 01, 2008 @02:23PM (#24833177)
    Unless they develop a mostly working implementation of Flash, I don't see any point choosing them over Mozilla or Opera or Konqueror. They can optimize the rest of the browsing components all they want, but Flash is now the weakest link in the components needed to view the web in all its glory. Though a new faster JavaScript engine is nice too.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Plug (14127)

      I'd love to identify which of my tabs (presumably one running Flash) is causing the memory usage (and kill it, if need be). This sounds like one of the greatest advantages of Google Chrome.

  • by KasperMeerts (1305097) on Monday September 01, 2008 @02:42PM (#24833329)
    On page 13 [blogoscoped.com], they have completed Hitler's dream. Germany seems to occupy Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland,most of Austria, Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary.

    Weird because the rest of the chart seems pretty correct.
    This must mean all of Google are Nazi's.
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Monday September 01, 2008 @03:23PM (#24833745)

    That comic is really great. It deals with every question someone interested in the field would have at Google once he hears of this.
    "Why a new Brower project?" "Why Webkit?" "Why yet another JavaScript VM?" (OMG, not *again* is what I thought first), etc.
    Very informative indeed.

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