Update: A blog post on the official Google blog entitled A fresh take on the browser states that the comic book went out early. It was supposed to show up tomorrow in tandem with the launch of the beta of Google Chrome which will be available in over 100 countries.
Phillipp Lessen was sent an announcement in the form of a comic book which gives the details on an upcoming Open Source browser project from Google. He gives the details and links to scanned images of the comic in his post Google Chrome, Google’s Browser Project. His site seems to have been running slow so he took down links to the scans. I managed to grab them and have uploaded them to a folder on Windows Live SkyDrive. The link is embedded below and the comic can be accessed directly from here.
The key features of Chrome according to the comic are
- Based on WebKit
- Task manager shows how much resources each tab is using so you can tie resource usage to individual Web pages.
- Each tab has it's own URL box and can effectively be considered it's own browser Window.
- OmniBox URL bar is similar to AwesomeBar in Firefox 3 and the smart address bar in IE 8.
- Instead of "about:blank" the default homepage shows our nine most visited Web pages and four most used search engines
- Has an incognito mode where no browser history is saved and cookies are wiped out when the browser is closed. Some people have affectionately dubbed such features pr0n mode. Amusingly, the comic uses the same "planning a surprise birthday party" scenario that the Internet Explorer team used when describing a similar feature in IE 8.
- Pop ups are not modal and scoped to the tab which they were spawned from. However they can be promoted to becoming their own tab.
- There is a "streamlined" mode where the URL box and browser toolbar are hidden so only the Web page is visible.
- Web pages are sandboxed so that if the user hits a malware site it cannot access the user's computer and perform drive-by downloads or installations.
- The sandbox model is broken by browser plugins (e.g. Flash) but this is mitigated by having the plugin execute in it's own separate process that is different from that of the browser's rendering engine.
- The browser will continuously phone home to Google to get a list of known malware sites so that the user is warned when they are visited.
- Will ship with Google Gears built-in
My initial thoughts on this are that this is a smart move on Google's part. Google depends on the usage and advancement of the Web for its success. However how quickly the Web is advanced is in the hands of browser vendors which probably doesn't sit well with them which is why they created Gears in the first place and hired the guy driving HTML 5. Chrome now gives them an even larger say in which way the Web goes.
As for their relationship with Firefox, it may be mutually beneficial financially since Mozilla gets paid while Google gets to be the search default in a popular browser but it doesn't mean Google can dictate their technical direction. With Chrome, has a way to force browser vendors to move the Web forward on their terms even if it is just by getting users to demand the features that exist in Chrome.
PS: Am I the only one that thinks that Google is beginning to fight too many wars on too many fronts. Android (Apple), OpenSocial (Facebook), Knol (Wikipedia), Lively (IMVU/SecondLife), Chrome (IE/Firefox) and that's just in the past year.
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