Web ready: Chrome features a minimal user interface and shows users recently visited sites when a new tab is opened. Each tab also runs as a unique “process” to improve speed and stability.
Another benefit of running browser tabs separately, Google says, is increased security. Usually, when hackers try to install malware on a computer via the browser, they look for bugs in a component called the rendering engine. Chrome runs separate rendering engines and segregates each one with another layer of protection. “It’s an extra level of security,” says Fisher. This means a hacker would need to find not only a bug in the rendering engine but one in the protection layer in order for the malware to make its way out of the browser and into a computer.
Other features resemble improvements offered in the latest versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox. For instance, the address bar–which Google dubs the Omni bar–automatically provides suggested search terms and Web page addresses and can be configured to work with a number of popular search engines. Chrome also offers a private browsing mode, called Incognito, in which no identifying information is recorded during Web surfing. Web history and search information are automatically cleared from the computer and the browser’s memory when an incognito tab is closed.
Microsoft, for its part, only recently introduced Internet Explorer 8, a browser that boasts a number of improvements over previous versions. In a statement regarding the Chrome release, Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of Internet Explorer, says, “The browser landscape is highly competitive, but people will choose Internet Explorer 8 for the way it puts the services they want right at their fingertips, respects their personal choices about how they want to browse and–more than any other browsing technology–puts them in control of their personal data online.”
At Google’s press conference on Tuesday, competition with Microsoft was not on the agenda. “In the case of Chrome, we saw an opportunity to rewrite the browser from scratch,” said Brin, adding that the browser’s source code would be made freely available for anyone, including Microsoft, to modify and reuse. “The open-source community can evolve [Chrome] further, into an even more powerful engine for the Web,” he said.