SAN FRANCISCO, 3 SEPTEMBER 2008 - The first beta of Chrome, Google's long-in-development Internet browser, became available Tuesday afternoon for Windows Vista and XP users, with Mac and Linux editions soon to follow. There's ample reason to be excited about the release, and just as much reason to be wary.
Seven Reasons Chrome Could Be Cool
1. It won't crash.
Perhaps Chrome's biggest draw is its multiprocess architecture, which, in a nutshell, protects you from having a bad Web page or application take your browser down. Every tab, window, and plug-in runs in its own environment--so one faulty site won't affect anything else that you have open. This approach also adds another layer of security by isolating each site and application within a limited environment.
2. It's really fast.
Again because of the multiprocess foundation, one slow site won't drag down the rest of your browsing. Instead, you can effortlessly click to another tab or window. With plug-ins, the arrangement works similarly: If you open a site that has a slow-loading Java ad, for example, the Java itself will be isolated and the rest of the page won't be affected. The program itself opens within seconds of when you click the icon, too--a distinct advantage over some slower-loading alternatives.
3. You barely notice it's there.
Calling the design of Chrome's interface streamlined is an understatement. The program barely looks like a program, and the vast majority of your screen space is devoted to the site you're visiting--with no buttons or logos hogging space. Chrome's designers say that they wanted people to forget they were even using a browser, and it comes pretty close to achieving that goal.
4. It makes searching simpler.
One of Chrome's signature features is its Omnibox, an integrated all-purpose bar at the top of the browser. You can type in a URL or a search term--or both--and Chrome takes you to the right place without asking any questions. Omnibox can learn what you like, too--a talent that goes beyond the obvious automatic completion function. Say that you want to use the PCWorld.com search function, for example. Once you've visited the site once, Chrome will remember that PCWorld.com has its own search box and will give you the option of using it right from Omnibox. The function thus automates keyword searches.
5. It gives you more control over tabs.
Chrome gives the idea of tabbed browsing new power. You can grab a tab and drag it out into its own individual window. Or you can drag and drop tabs into existing windows to combine them. Chrome also gives you the option of starting up in any tab configuration you want--whether a custom setup or the set of tabs you had open in your previous session. Other browsers require third-party add-ons to provide this capability.
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