Waiting For Google Chrome To Launch

Obviously the big story of yesterday and today in the technology world is the impending launch of Google’s open-source browser Chrome. It will likely be available for download here later today. (TechCrunch and Google Blogoscoped have a few screenshots.) There are dozens and dozens of stories on Techmeme.

Most of the coverage, from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and elsewhere, focuses on several themes:

  • Google going directly after Microsoft (browser wars redux); it’s even being called a “windows killer” by some

  • Google trying to guarantee access to its search box
  • Google now competing with ally and partner Firefox

On the last point, Om Malik has an interview with Mozilla CEO John Lilly in which Lilly says, “”I really don’t know how it will impact us.”

Indeed, we’re all speculating until the browser is available for download and people can see whether it represents an upgrade over IE, Opera, Safari or Firefox. For its part Google says:

On the surface, we designed a browser window that is streamlined and simple. To most people, it isn’t the browser that matters. It’s only a tool to run the important stuff — the pages, sites and applications that make up the web. Like the classic Google homepage, Google Chrome is clean and fast. It gets out of your way and gets you where you want to go.

Under the hood, we were able to build the foundation of a browser that runs today’s complex web applications much better. By keeping each tab in an isolated “sandbox”, we were able to prevent one tab from crashing another and provide improved protection from rogue sites. We improved speed and responsiveness across the board. We also built a more powerful JavaScript engine, V8, to power the next generation of web applications that aren’t even possible in today’s browsers.

This is just the beginning — Google Chrome is far from done. We’re releasing this beta for Windows to start the broader discussion and hear from you as quickly as possible. We’re hard at work building versions for Mac and Linux too, and will continue to make it even faster and more robust.

One way to look at this is as a kind of operating system for the emerging “cloud computing” world and a strategic asset for Google accordingly. As more computing functions move to the Internet, Chrome does have the potential to contribute to a decline in desktop-OS based computing. However it’s “way premature” to call it a Windows Killer in my view.

Google is making Chrome simultaneously available in 100 countries. Google also has huge reach and a powerful brand, which will make it more likely that there will be a big initial response.

However this is a product that will live or die on own merit: does it work, is it fast and functional? Google says that “this is just the beginning” for Chrome and is doing demos and a Q&A session later today (2 p.m. Eastern US).

I’ll be there and will update this post (or write a new one) after the session.

Postscript: You can watch the webcast here.

Update: Chrome will be available at 12 pm Pacific today.

Related Topics: Channel: Content | Google: Browsers | Google: Chrome | Top News

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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