Is Google's new Chrome browser any good?

Google is looking to plug the gaps in its cloud computing universe with its new browser, Chrome, which many believe could be a serious competitor to Microsoft's IE and Mozilla's Firefox.

The browser was made available overnight for free download, in beta form, and after a couple of hours' use, it looks to be a decent addition to the web arsenal - especially when it's in full-release form.

It is smooth, fast and has a few tasty features - for most web users, it's probably advanced enough in its current iteration for everyday use.

Installation into Windows XP was completely drama-free from an .exe file. A prompt asked for Firefox to be closed while it imported bookmarks, passwords and the like, and it was all go.

First impressions were that it loads pages faster than the current Firefox version; even embedded video on sites didn't do its usual glitchy dance. Google's seems to have made good on its claim that its new JavaScript Virtual Engine - dubbed V8 - would load Java content faster and cleaner than other browsers.

It did initially seem strange using an internet browser without the standard menu bar - this is eschewed in favour of a row of buttons to access options, add bookmarks or navigate, with an 'omnibar' set in the middle. This is an address field that doubles as a search window, tap in what you're after and it goes directly to Google, although you can decide to target your web searching elsewhere.

Its tab line-up runs across the top of the omnibar and buttons, and each tab is treated separately, so a dodgy webpage can be shut down without crashing the whole browser. When you open a new tab, there's a selection of thumbnails of recent pages visited, a list of bookmarks and a few current searches.

If you want to go stealth there's a 'porn mode' called Incognito, which launches a different-coloured window for easy identification, and won't save history, cookies or other information from sites visited.

There are a few niggles right off the bat - including the lack of extension capability, which regular Firefox users would certainly miss. It also misses out on RSS feed capability, but as it's a very fresh version, these are problems likely to be rectified in a full version.

After working and surfing the web with Chrome, it returned a fairly positive experience, although didn't manage to execute some commands in the content management system.

The tech blogosphere is very much divided on Chrome and its ability to put a serious dent into Microsoft's browser market share (particularly after its public beta release of IE8 last week).

Wall Street Journal tech writer Walt Mossberg had a few brickbats for Chrome users after a week of testing it against IE8.

"Despite Google's claims that Chrome is fast, it was notably slower in my tests at the common task of launching Web pages than either Firefox or Safari," he said. "However, it proved faster than the latest version of IE also a beta version called IE8.

"Meanwhile, Microsoft hasn't been sitting still. The second beta version of IE8 is the best edition of Internet Explorer in years. It is packed with new features of its own, some of which are similar to those in Chrome, and some of which, in my view, top Chrome's features."

Techzilo were reasonably impressed: "If Google's promises of fast Javascript rendering, security, extensions etc. is delivered, Opera, Firefox and several other browsers could have one very interesting competitor to deal with. None of the other browsers have the backing of a company as large as Google (Microsoft and Apple do not count, as one suffers from lack of quality and the other suffers from lack of quantity). "

Techradar was quite complimentary, rating it's address autocompletion capabilities alongside Firefox 3's modestly-titled Awesome bar: "It autocompletes with a level of smarts that rivals (if not exceeds) Firefox's new Awesome bar picking out previously visited sites intelligently and extremely quickly.

"You want quick? You got it. Google Chrome feels nippier than Firefox all round, as well it should considering the demands it places on your computer. "

Gizmodo wasn't too flash on the tab set-up, and were less than complimentary about its look: "T he tabs in Chrome do have a couple of annoying little quirks that aren't in FF. For one, tabs remain the same size no matter how many are open rather than stretching to fill the window. That makes it difficult to tell what's in each tab due to how small they are. Making it more confusing is the fact that new tabs open between the tab you have open and the closest tab rather than putting new tabs at the end. This makes it easy to lose track of your tabs if you like to keep them orderly. Chrome needs to get some theme support in a bad way." blogged about the communication between Chrome and Google's own servers, but found nothing too invasive, saying: "I thought it would be better to write down all the communication that happens so that people wouldn't invent conspiracy theories."

This article originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald -

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Graduate BI Consultant (Business Intelligence) - London

    £24000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate BI Consultant (B...

    Service Delivery Manager (Product Manager, Test and Deployment)

    £40000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager (Product Ma...

    Technical Product Marketing Specialist - London - £70,000

    £50000 - £70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Cloud Product and Solutions Marketin...

    Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

    £18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam