Google Chrome Open-Source Browser Set To Launch

There have been rumors of a Google-developed browser circulating for a few years now, and it appears that rumor is about to become fact. The Wall Street Journal posted a news story today confirming that a launch of Google's open-source web browser, now known as Google Chrome, is imminent...

"Google Inc. confirmed that it plans to launch its own Web browser, in the latest twist in a battle with Microsoft Corp. over key Internet technologies.  The Internet company, in a posting on its Web site Monday, indicated that a beta version of the software would be available for download on Tuesday.  The company said the software is designed to make it easier and faster to browse the Web, by offering enhanced address-bar features and other elements that are very different from those on other [browsers]."

Washington Post also has a similar story posted that goes on to say Google has been working on the browser for about two years now and that the work became more serious when Microsoft launched Internet Explorer 7.

But it's a blog post on
Google Blogscoped that has many more details regarding the project. In addition to a breakdown of the main features of the browser, Google Blogscoped has scanned a 38-page comic that outlines some of the browser's inner-workings.

"Today there was a comic book in my mail, sent by Google...which I’ve scanned and put up, in very readable format Google gives the technical details into a project of theirs: an open source browser called Google Chrome."

In the comic book, drawn by Scott McCloud, Google explains that the Chrome browser is designed to be easier to use, faster, more reliable, and more stable than existing browsers. They plan to achieve these goal through a number of methods. First, the interface will be somewhat different than current browsers in that the tabs and address bar positioning will be different. In the Google chrome browser, the tabs will be place above all other menu items at the very top of the window.

Google also plans to make the Chrome browser, which uses the open source Webkit rendering engine, faster and more reliable by making it a multi-process application. Google chose the Webkit rendering engine because they were impressed by its speed and because the engineers working on the Android project (who also use Webkit) said it used memory efficiently and was easily adaptable. The original plan was to make a multi-threaded browser that would be better able to handle a slow JavaScript application, but over the course of development Google decided to make Chrome a multi-process application that could give each tab its own process. By doing so, the browser can be sped up because different processes can be handled by different cores in a multi-core processor, and should one process crash the entire browser doesn't come down with it.

Google has also built a JavaScript Virtual Machine engine from scratch for the project, dubbed V8, that is also open source and designed to speed up JavaScript performance in the browser. Other features include a privacy mode that won't track any log any browser activity, and auto-complete address bar called the OmniBox, an anti-malware / anti-phishing mechanism that is constantly updated with lists of harmful sites, and a speed dial feature, similar to one offered by the Opera browser.

Another feature of the Google Chrome browser will allow users to launch a web-application in a separate window, sans the address bar and browser toolbar. The feature is designed to make the browser more transparent to end-users.

Hopefully the beta download will be available tomorrow as reported and we'll all be able to take Chrome for a spin ourselves. The features that have been disclosed so far and interesting to say the least.