Yesterday Google released the first beta of Chrome 2.0, only months after 1.0 went final. Of course this is with a reason, if you were the fastest you want to stay the fastest.
Linux and Mac users will be disappointed to know that there is still no binary available for them, while those looking for Firefox-like extensions won't find anything as well. For both cases Google promised to address them in a release this year.
However on the positive side Chrome 2.0 improves speed even further. According to Google's own benchmarking they score a 25% improvement in their own V8 benchmark and 35% in the SunSpider benchmark, which should put Chrome closer (but not ahead) Safari 4's Nitro Engine (and Firefox 3.5's TraceMonkey). Some of the new features in this release include form autofill, full page zoom and autoscroll, and a new way to drag tabs out to get a side-by-side view.
You can download this beta from the special beta site, but be careful as it may contain bugs.
News has spread a few days ago that the European Commission has finished the investigation, started by Opera Software, that Microsoft is illegally bundling their web browser with Windows. How will this affect you? It won't, ha!
It looks like history will repeat itself, although it mostly feels like a déjà vu. Didn't we had this illegal bundling issue before? We sure had, concerning web browsers in the US and concerning media players in the EU.
So what will happen if the European Commission tells Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer? Basically nothing. Let's be honest, IE is tied into Windows with a purpose these days, to use its rendering engine (and associated technologies). Not just IE shells, but also stuff like Blizzard's WoW launcher, Windows Help, etc. These days it has purpose and it's unlikely it will get removed from Windows completely.
What we might see is the following ideal (?) solution: Windows 7 N hides IE, and has no Windows Media Player. After first boot up (of a clean system), Windows will display a screen similar to the anti-virus (security) screen, stating that no web browser is bundled, but alternatives 1-5 are available. Of course those alternatives need to supply a streamlines download for the user so Microsoft can retrieve it and install it silently. For the user the default web browser is the one downloaded, but all programs that use an embedded version of IE still have access to it.
If this solution would materialize it would fail, similar to the current Windows N releases. Are you going to pay the same amount of money for an operating system that doesn't have your most used media player and web browser? Of course no average Joe or Jane will! Even worse, most manufacturers will make this decision for you. Why? Because you expect a complete package with your PC and don't want the hassle to download additional software. And the manufacturer doesn't want to spend additional funds on supporting some alternative browser. The less you call for support, the better.
Finally we should question ourselves the following: why doesn't this apply to Apple, which comes bundled with Safari, isn't that almost as "bad"? With IE8 going for standards compliant support, is the whole notion of manipulating open standards also gone? And why, o why was this filed only in December 2007, when Firefox showed the world that it is possible to fight and win?
You can say a lot of things about Google, but you can't say their slow starters. Only nine days young is this year and already the first development build of Chrome 2 has been released.
Along with Chrome 2 comes the new Chrome Channel Changer, which supports the new channel structure: stable, beta and development. The stable channel contains the releases meant for end users, while the beta has monthly releases for web developers and other enthusiasts. The development channel contains the weekly release and is thus the cutting edge channel with Chrome 2.
If you have Google Chrome installed simply download the new channel changer, set it to the development branch and trigger the auto-update feature by going to the about dialog in the menu. Do note that this is development build and may have some loose screws ;)
* Firefox 3.1
* Internet Explorer 8
* Opera 10
* Safari 4
* Other (please specify)
In a rather surprise move Google released Chrome 1.0, deeming it stable for daily usage. Google has chosen to make Chrome final, because it has met their standards for stability and performance. However in the end it's up to you to decide if it's truly worthy.
Picking up and extending features from the competition Chrome features an incognito mode where you anonymously browse the web without leaving traces on the PC (cache, history, ...). Another feature is that each tab collects your most visited sites in thumbnails, looking a little bit like Opera's Speed Dial. Web sites can now have a shortcut in Windows, allowing you to open a web site as a solo window, without browser controls. This approach looks a lot like Mozilla Prism. Of course their are still "standard" features such as tabs, in-line spell check, one click bookmarks, and a smart location bar that searches browsing history.
In the future Google will work on an extensions API, similar to Firefox, but is currently lacking. Other new features in the planning are RSS, Linux and Mac support. No doubt when those features are acquired it will accumulate a much larger market, though it's competing with Opera already.
If you don't have Chrome yet you can download it from their web site. Users of previous releases will get the update automatically (except for those using the dev channel, they have a slightly different build).
It was already promised during the launch of the first test build of Chrome, but now issue 18 has been updated with more information. What is issue 18? That's the plan to add extensions support to Chrome!
Although nothing is yet released, the plan does detail some of the proposed ideas to implement in a later Chrome release. Hopefully this will happen before Chrome 1.0 is released, as in my opinion it's a vital part of a browser such as Chrome, which relies on simplicity, but needs extensions to alter beyond the basics.
Some of the requirements are: based as much as possible on existing web standards (and not proprietary APIs), easy installation, rich experience (as if it was part of Chrome quality), auto-update, NNAPI plug-ins as extensions, compatibility with many releases (no breakage each x.1+ release), and much much more.
Hopefully Google will also keep their focus on Linux and Mac builds, as with extensions support Chrome could finally become a true Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer or Safari killer app.
Google has released a new beta of their, almost as popular as Opera, web browser which is know for its simplicity and awesome speed. This new beta, following a complete release number of 0.4.154.25, adds new features, but not yet an extension API similar to Firefox.
In this release the most noteworthy feature is the bookmarks manager. Previously there was none, so it's now much easier to manage bookmarks, as well as import and export them. In the beginning options were limited, but Google seems to be working on finding a good balance and has added several options now under a new privacy header, allowing the more paranoid to disable anything that Google might eavesdrop on you. Also the pop-up blocking behavior has changed in notifying you, a moderate security issue got fixed regarding your downloads as well as updates to Gears and V8.
Those who have Google Chrome installed will be automatically updated (though you can force it through the about dialog). New users can download it from Chrome's site.
Google has released a new official beta of their Chrome web browser, including a butt load of fixes for this early, but promising piece of software.
With only a Windows build available it feels a bit disappointing to hear nothing about potential Mac or Linux releases. However for those using Windows this release comes with several important changes, but doesn't include an extensions API, similar to Firefox, just yet.
First of all it fixes one medium security issue related to spoofing with pop-up windows. But what else is there? Scrolling with laptop touch pads now works, improved performance and reliability for plug-ins, no longer data is stored from secure sites, improved performance and reliability for people who use web proxies, a spell checker that works on text input fields and underlines misspelled words, and much more.
For a full changelog see Chrome's site. You can obtain the latest release either by going to the About Google Chrome dialog, or just sit and wait until the Google Updater does it for you in the coming days.