Just a week after Microsoft won plaudits for the Google-busting features in its latest version of Internet Explorer, the search giant has struck back with a vengeance: it’s announced that it’s going to launch its own browser. The all-new Chrome, which will use open source software, launches today in more than 100 countries: it’s apparently designed to be faster and more lightweight than IE, which claims 74% of the browser market, making it easier for us to run media-rich web pages and online applications. All of which sounds like a major threat to the only real area of dominance Microsoft has left…
According to its official blog, Google decided that it was time to re-invent the browser. ‘We began seriously thinking about what kind of browser could exist if we started from scratch and built on the best elements out there,’ blogs VP Sundar Pichai. ‘We realized that the web had evolved from mainly simple text pages to rich, interactive applications and that we needed to completely rethink the browser. What we really needed was not just a browser, but also a modern platform for web pages and applications.’
Since Google is responsible for many of these extra applications – the likes of Picasa, Maps and Documents, for example – this sounds like a win-win. The idea is that Chrome will be faster because it isolates the different elements going on in your browser tabs – so they can run at the same time, and won’t crash each other if they go wrong.
The arrival of Chrome opens a new front for Google in its fight against IE – it already partners the Mozilla Foundation, the non-profit organisation behind the Firefox browser, and recently renewed the agreement to run till 2011. Yet some say the arrival of Chrome will do little to attack IE’s market share, and will perhaps eat into that of the less established alternatives – like Firefox.
There may also be some reaction against Google’s reach. IE may dominate browsers, but Google’s on the rise pretty much everywhere else. And Chrome is bound to come loaded with gadgets designed to collect data on what clothes you buy, what kind of sandwich you had for lunch and what colour toilet paper you use. Talk about segmenting the market in a new way: Microsoft may now end up the champions of privacy, at least compared with a Google renowned for rifling through your cyber-trash.