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By 3 October 2008 | Categories: netsmart

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These days it seems like the browser wars have new changes happening by the week. One of the major causes of this is that Google have finally decided to jump into the fray and ­release their own browser. This new browser, known as Chrome, is out of the box and the overall consensus is that Chrome is pretty darn nice. But of course I just had to take a look for myself.

Chrome was a quick download and a quick ­install, and it wasn’t long before I started to browse the web. My initial impression is that it doesn’t feel very different from Firefox 3. If anything, Chrome might be a little faster, but it’s hard to tell on a fast computer. Google have got all kinds of cool architectural ideas around Chrome, but right now these won’t have a major effect or benefit for the average user. The new architecture might pay off down the road, but right now it’s not as if Firefox 3 is a ­horrible piece of junk that crashes every 10 minutes, so I don’t see a strong case for switching just yet.

That being said, one of the biggest challenges a ­number of users face is having their hardware keep pace with the new software that keeps coming out, with newer software (for example Internet Explorer 8) needing faster PCs with more memory. Not everyone can afford to continually upgrade their hardware, and therein lies one of Chrome’s best features – Chrome generally uses less memory than not only Internet ­Explorer 8, but also Firefox 3. Already Firefox 3 performs better in this area than Internet Explorer 8, so Chrome’s further ­improvement is something to appreciate.

This also means that Chrome is better suited for older PCs, as sometimes users with older machines can end losing out on newer web technology, but by using Chrome that is no longer a problem. This might be the most obvious immediate benefit for the average user from this new software architecture.

Chrome has many innovative features. Some of the more ­forward-thinking ones include:
•    The address bar doubles as a search field. As expected, Google is the default search engine, but you can change this easily if you
      want to.
•    When you launch Chrome, or open a blank window or tab, you’re shown thumbnail pictures of your most recently viewed Web
      pages. You can click on these to go straight to that page. This is similar to a feature found in the Opera browser.
•    There is an “Incognito” browsing mode where none of your browsing history, cached images or pages visited are saved. This is
      similar to an IE 8 feature, dubbed “porn mode” by witty bloggers.

I encourage you to try all of these browsers for yourself. You can download them here:
•    Google Chrome – www.google.com/chrome
•    Firefox 3 – www.firefox.com
•    Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2– www.microsoft.com/ie8

For the more technically minded the real differences separating Chrome from IE and Firefox are less obvious.

Overall, the first impression of Chrome is good. I will ­continue to play with it, although I suspect that I will keep my Firefox 3 around until Chrome has equivalent plug-ins, which is the real value of Firefox. lance@brandedinternet.co.za

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