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 -

The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm that there was a 'minor disturbance'

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

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
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

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

    Software Developer

    £35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

    Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

    £35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

    Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

    £30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

    Senior Change Engineer (Windows, Linux, VMWare) - London £35k

    £30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

    The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album