Exactly two years ago on this date, September 3, I wrote a blog post called "When will web browsing get interesting again" in which I talked about the new web called Browzar (which turned out to be a pseudo-browser), the state of web browsers in the general (that is, the release of Firefox and the on again, off again release of Internet Explorer 7) and wondered when would web browsing become interesting again. Back then I asked two questions, one of which I re-publish here:
When will we see a browser that gives users a solid and secure framework in which we can create, design, and interact with the web in ways that we define and tailor to our needs?In the end, I concluded that it was not a matter of when a new browser with such features would appear, but rather who. Who would deliver the next generation web browser.
I downloaded Google Chrome and installed it, which was a seamless, trouble-free process. I installed Chrome on both my XP and Vista computers. No problems (so far) on either one of them. You are also given the option to import your bookmarks. Nice feature. I did. I launched Chrome and marvelled at its speed. The default start page is not blank but rather filled with clickable thumbnail images of websites, recently visited or recent searches. Start by clicking one of these thumbnails or by searching. The search bar is combined with the address bar with search suggestions. There are more features available in Chrome that are not readily visible. You will have to dig around a fair bit and play with settings and options. Better still. Visit Google's Chrome page and watch the instructional videos.
At the end of the day, is this the next generation web browser we've been waiting for? Is this the first shot in a new browser war?
Let me answer those questions this way.
Google is part search company, part advertising company, but mostly a software engineering company that uses impressive engineering to deliver the tools and apps many of us use daily (e.g. Search, Gmail, Reader, Blogger, etc). And all of these tools live out there in the webosphere, not in here on our hard drives.
I believe Chrome is no different. It is the engineering in Chrome--that is, the open source engine--in addition to Google's own gutsiness to remake the Web untethered from any OS that will demonstrate in time whether this is indeed the browser that will change the game.
UPDATE #1: In re-reading this blog post, I wanted to make clear that, while Google Chrome performs smoothly, the browser is still beta, so bugs are inevitable as well as user interface peculiarities (a clumsy user interface, in some case, or clumsy user, you decide).
UPDATE #2: For a history of Chrome's development, read Wired's Steven Levy's article.