back to article Google releases open source browser

Google is releasing an open source browser called Google Chrome which it promises will be small, fast and stable. Available for download shortly, the tabbed browser is explained in a 38 page comic by Scott McCloud. The comic explains that browsers are now very different from when first introduced - they are used for running …


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  1. Joe K
    Black Helicopters

    Wheres the El-Reg scepticism?

    Surely this browser pipes your history to Googles mega-database?

    Or in some way calculates your demographic and buying preferences in order to serve you ads direct from Googles Doubleclick network?

    Whats in it for them?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    "Available for download shortly -

    out of beta sometime in the next millennium."

    Of course, it remains to be seen just how much time Chrome will spend nattering with the mothership about your browsing habits, Pr0n Mode or not.

  3. Aleksis


    Is this not just Opera with a Google sticker on it?

  4. paul


    "Chrome will include a task manager for each tab so you can see what resources are being used by individual pages."

    As I spend most of my time on the web these days, this is useful and AFAIK no other browsers do this.

  5. Jack Harrer
    Thumb Up


    Finally somebody thought it's a good idea to have each tab as separate thread. With all those multicore processor it will work like a dream. Also it would be much harder to access one page from other (XSS) as communication paths can be more secure.

    Just make it compatible with FF add-ons! ;)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Since this is google

    do we need to sand box the application - so it can't take over the entire OS and put in betas we don't want or need and stop us removing them?

  7. Dan Silver badge


    Firefox + shinier tabs. And multithreaded so Google's apps don't have to be programmed to worry about hogging the browser. And a task manager to kill them when they go wrong.

    Anything I missed?

  8. breakfast Silver badge


    Another browser whose CSS quirks, JavaScript idiosyncrasies and rendering problems web developers will have to get used to. What fun.

    Still, it will be better than IE.

    Of course, a dead sheep makes a better web browser than IE,..

  9. Craig McCaskill
    IT Angle

    Good Idea... or is it?

    After reading the comic, it makes a lot of sense. However, i can't help feeling that this is another way of Google trying to monitor our web use. Sure they can see our search trends already, but if we use their browser will we be handing them our browsing habbits? The new tab feature that gives us our top visited sites and searches... is that secure on OUR machines only, or is Google able to see this too?

    I'll still give it a go, but i'll be watching it like a hawk!

  10. Waggers
    Thumb Up

    small, fast and stable

    I was going to simply type that and say Firefox already does that - but actually this sounds like something much better. I hate it when one page is taking ages to load and Firefox freezes while it tries to load it, and I can't view the other tabs. Once again Google seem to have spotted something good and figured out how to do it better.

    Being open source, we can also check that Google aren't using it to watch our every move. And, hopefully, we won't have to wait too long for Firefox to incorporate everything Chrome offers.

  11. andy

    Yes please

    It all sounds good and hopefully it will be. Shows Google's typical thinking outside the box - let's not just release something out there with a few new features, let's start from scratch based around people's needs NOW as opposed to what might have been acceptable a few years ago.

    The comic strip is a bit long but the idea of running tabs as separate processes sounds like a bloody good idea and something that should have been done a long time ago. (Although I read elsewhere that IE8 might do this aswell? Does anybody know?)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Scott McCloud FTW

    He might not be able to spell his own name, but the man is a genius.

    Even as a computer science grad, those process/thread relationship diagrams always had me stumped, but he can break it down and build it up in a logical, meaningful manner.

    It almost stopped me from noticing that the only really new feature of chrome is the memory management model. Of course, that's a MASSIVE improvement in and of itself....

  13. Christoph

    Good name

    Chrome - flashy fiddling about with the appearance of an app without anything to do with the actual functionality

  14. Steve
    Thumb Up

    Call me a raging google fanboi, but..

    This looks genuinely interesting. And it could already be rendering IE8 a bit obsolete.

  15. Alexis Vallance
    Thumb Up

    Can only be good

    The more competition IE gets, the better.

  16. David Kelly


    I'm keen to try this. If it's as good as they hype it up to be M$ is going to get a huge kick in the *ss :-)

  17. Tim Williams

    Rotten name

    That's a rotten name for a browser. What marketing genius came up with Chrome ? I think they should have called it Web Rover, then a whole world of cute dog icons would have been made available to the designers.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    open source?

    last time i checked open source actually meant source code availability. looks like google is delivering some opensource vaporware here...

    move on, nothing to see here...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I saw the Google Chrome comic...

    ... and all I got was this lousy massive brain failure.

  20. Gary F
    Thumb Up

    Yay and Boo

    Yay, because this is the first browser to do something sensible about putting each tab in its own process, something I've been wishing for years. Even Firefox is guilty of grinding to a hault if one tab is struggling with a slow/poor site.

    Boo, because as a web developer it's another browser to check compatibility against. Sure, it uses Webkit like Safari 3 so you'd think the results would be identical, but not so because it uses a different javascript engine.

    Boo, because it will take a large chunk away from Firefox's growing market share and dilute Opera's tiny slice even further. Both these browsers are excellent and we have a lot to thank them for. Chrome will unwittingly make IE appear to have a larger market lead as the Firefox & Opera users are the ones more likely to migrate to Chrome, not the mainstream IE users.

    Yay, for innovation and the Javascript interpreter - which Firefox will have shortly.

  21. Chris

    Only an attempt to help it's forthcoming mobile platform

    The reason for Gogle doing this are the same as Apple releasing Safari to windown machines:

    Both Apple & Google want to be dominant on the mobile platform, Apple with the iPhone, and Google with Android software platform. and the best way to do this is to have the best mobile browser

    Now it's no good having the best mobile browser if web developers fail to take advantage of it's quirks and features, so to force developers to do this the browser needs market share, and to get market share the browser needs to be released on the windows desktop. Simple!

    Another thing Google can do is to cry about Windows anti-competitive practices with Microsoft & Windows live services becoming ever more closely linked, especially with the release of IE8

    What IO want to see is, does Google practice what it preaches, and will it include other search providers by default (not that I'll use them, but it will be interesting to see)

  22. Alastair

    Dan- yes

    The main thing you missed is the Google name. If there were ever an "ie killer" this is it. Not because of any technology involved, but because of the name attached to it. Joe Public has no idea who Mozilla is, but knows Google as a trusted brand.

    Oh, and it's all open source so any ET like phoning home would be easy to find, I'd imagine.

  23. Elmer Phud
    IT Angle

    It's about time . . .

    . . . they got their act together. They've been putting a lot of dosh towards Mozilla (possibly no FFox without Google?) and must have been thinking of their own browser for a while.

    will they maintain the funding for Mozilla to keep a rival going or just let Moz find their own feet?.

    Will it come without a Google toolbar?

    Will it come with Ad Block to keep Google at bay?

    Really, really Open Source?

  24. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. Peter

    threads <> process

    Actually each tab has it's own process, not it's own thread. To me, it seems the only real advantage over other browsers. Browsers more or less do the same nowadays, with FF haveing the advantage of many extensions. Read the comic, and don't see why I would change, though the multi-process thing could be a good idea for other browsers.

  26. michaelh

    I might give this a go later today..

    ...with Wireshark running in the background, of course. Don't want them getting all funny with my personal info.

    Mine's the one with the tin-foil hat in the pocket.

  27. kenzie

    Wish I'd read this...

    before I spent ages on that cheesy comic - seriously - the sad tab?!

    I'll give it a try though =)

  28. BlueGreen

    It seems I can't read their comic...

    ... cos it uses scripting.

    Which I block for security purposes because most things can be done without it.

    But not comics with supposedly useful info.

    Which are really just a static collection of images which can be sequentially linked.

    Or even not linked and just put on a single long page which I could scroll down.

    Nice one google.

  29. Stuart Harrison

    @ breakfast

    The rendering engine is WebKit, so no extra layers of complexity here! Javascript might be an issue, but I doubt it as the Google devs are trying to make Javascript less of a pain, not more...

  30. Robert Simpson

    wow double post action

    *looks at entry immediately above this one in the RSS list*

  31. John

    What about firefox?

    Google are the financial backers behind Mozilla Firefox (via the inclusion of the Google search) so if we assume this gives them a controlling interest in that project, why the diversification in the portfolio?

  32. Hallainzil
    Thumb Up


    Bingo! You got it! If anyone can pull mainstream users from IE, it's Google.

    Imagine it - a little message on google's homepage - "Try our new internet experience!" or something like that. Bam! That's gonna erode a fairly significant proportion of IE users, at least a couple of percent.

    Maybe they'll start bundling it with things like desktop search or toolbar for IE...

  33. Tony Barnes


    ...was't expecting such a long comic!!

    Have to love that they don't mention "we're only doing this so we can pile more advertising cash out of you" - but you can't really blame them I suppose.

    Looks like an interesting bit of kit, though I'm sure it will have hackers drooling at the possibilities of breaking a tougher egg, that is stamped up as safe...

  34. GrahamT

    Divide and rule

    It would have made more sense as an IE beater if Google had co-operated with Firefox rather than go into competition.

    I see this firstly taking market share from Firefox (and Opera) as early adapters try it. The corporate market is owned by Microsoft, so unless it has an IE quirks mode (i.e. incorporates the same bugs) and the abililty to be controlled/tied down by corporate BOFHs, it won't make a lot of headway there.

    A technology share with Mozilla could actually have made a difference, and maybe created a critical mass of "FireChrome" users.

  35. Muscleguy

    Safari bois will switch too

    I use Safari and only fire up the fox for the odd (for me) site that Safari borks on. I love the idea of tabs as separate processes so with one eye on where my history is going I will likely migrate. I hate the home page idea though, I get a new tab and navigate to the page without touching the mouse, so why would I want to get a new tab and then go to the mouse to click on the site? So long as I can turn it off I will be happy.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    windoze only?

    i presume this is going to be windoze only - at least initially? the only OS specific references in that [long] comic are to vista and windoze. i'm hoping for a mac version ASAP because FF3 has been a real disappointment to me.

    as someone above alluded to, it's obvious that google chrome is another piece in the android jigsaw. and if it turns out to be as good as the comic suggests, then android is going to be a real competitor for iphone OSX [as long as they stick it on some decent hardware!]

    [actually - if they're going to make google chrome a part of android, that implies there's a linux version in the works too]

  37. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    From one monopolist to another...

    Chrome is a bit of cheek because that's what the GUI part of Mozilla is/was called.

    On many OS you can start multiple instances of a browser which run as separate processes. I can remember when Microsoft trumpeted this feature for one of their releaeses. Of course, back then RAM was reasonably expensive - as it still is for mobile devices. The presentation is beautiful but the guys are up their own arse. Not one thing is actually new.

    Really looks to be copying Opera a great deal and giving the FF devs a kick in the nads: find yourself another sponsor double-quick. The aim is obviously about providing the best runtime for Google's ad-sponsored apps. Why should you want to use another browser when Gmail, Writely, etc. run best in our application. Plus ça change et tout ça

    Oh, as eternal beta you'll have no right to complain when it gets compromised, crashes, etc. Great food for the lemmings.

  38. Marc Savage
    Thumb Down

    Not sus at all.

    Bet ou they can monitor your search history

  39. mittfh
    Boffin = Fake 404

    Ho hum - when they get around to releasing it, it will be available at

    Try typing it in now and you'll get a very basic (but fake) 404 error. Quite unlike the usual Google 404 (e.g.

    In the light of Chrome's release, keep an eye on how Firefox evolves - if the Chrome code is released as promised, then given the fact Google funds FF, there'll probably be an expectation that some Chrome code will make it into FF. That is, a Firefox release, as opposed to Minefield. Whereas Chrome will probably remain in Beta until 2012 or beyond...

    It'll be interesting to see how customisable Chrome is - e.g. will you be able to change Chrome's chrome?

    As for add-ons, it's possible they'll use xpi, but of course, as with FF updates, developers will need to add the relevant comptability line - given Chrome's insistence on security I expect they'll ensure you can't disable the compatability checker.

    Finally, as others have commented, it wouldn't surprise me if there's an option (enabled by default of course!) to report "anonymous" usage data back to the 'plex...

  40. James Dunmore

    acid test

    On linux, so got to wait a bit before I can try this - but does it pass the acid 3 test?!

  41. Ian
    Thumb Up

    Don't knock it 'till you've tried it

    I say, give it a chance. Generally competition is a good thing and this could really make a difference. I also really like the way they have communicated the technical details in an interesting and informative manor - you don't see many tech companies doing this.

  42. Dan Silver badge


    It's more like a Firefox and Opera killer. Those that were bothered enough to change their browser are more likely to change it again. Those that still use IE are very unlikely to change now.

    The browser might be open source, but then again there might be sections of code, toolbars, or plugins which come with the browser that aren't. As a rule of thumb, if you want one company to know less about you then you use fewer products or services from them (e.g. mail from Yahoo, search from Google). This browser will in all likelihood not break this rule of thumb.

  43. bobbles31

    How long before an OS?

    Googlebox? A lightweight internet machine with Linux, Google Chrome and then all the rest supplied via google apps?

    All the while MS were claiming that Red hat was their threat and up pops google.

    Go Google.

    (I'm not a Google fanboy or anything more a kinda pro competition person.)

  44. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Looking forward to trying it

    But also wondering when it will leave beta. Nothing from google ever seems to get past the beta stage.

  45. Anonymous Coward

    brain damage

    I should not listen to complex stories on the radio before finishing the first cup of coffee. When I first heard this story, the comic book conflated with the name, I thought the new browser was named "Crumb", as in R.J.

    Consider the possibilities ! Fritz the Cat instead of the damn paperclip ! Mr. Natural ! The taxi driver from Afghanistan ! (no, really, that was his original billing). Porn that is amusing and witty !

    Nah, just a safari clone, using khtml. Multithreaded though.

  46. Malcolm

    To be fair to IE8...

    IE8 also uses a separate process for each tab, and has already been released as a beta.

    Chrome looks neat though - I look forward to giving it a go.

  47. Dave


    Out of luck here then - if Safari borks on a site, you can expect Chrome will as well, since it is the same rendering engine.

  48. Noah Body

    Better Google than Microsoft, no?

    Oh brother what a choice for privacy: Microsoft or Google! However, I suppose that any browser offering additional privacy features is to be welcomed given that our web browser's record every link that we follow, every picture we biew, every site you visit and a list of the last 10 to 20 web sites to which you have been. Source: Scary stuff! I am more inclined to trust Google than Microsoft (so far anyway).

  49. Matthew Malthouse

    Yesterday they said tomorrow

    Which would now be today, even in the States. So where is it?

  50. Muscleguy
    Thumb Up


    Most of the errors I get aren't in the rendering, its the old click on link and get a 1x1 pixel instead of a page.

  51. blackworx


    That comic strip seems to have three times more squares in it than you'd expect.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Divide and rule


    "The corporate market is owned by Microsoft, so unless it has an IE quirks mode (i.e. incorporates the same bugs) and the abililty to be controlled/tied down by corporate BOFHs, it won't make a lot of headway there."

    IE is available via an API, so I don't imagine it's all that hard for a multi-process browser to kick up an IE session in its rendering window. I mean, they already do it in the non-multi-process Firefox (IETab extension).

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Phorm spoiler?

    Any chance it protects Google's revenue stream from vultures such as Phorm?

  54. Yordan Georgiev

    Wake up folk this is the game changer !!!

    Seriosly , what is wrong with you ... and your scepticism ... This is the come of an era of web enabled linux tablets and symbian phones - the missing link is here - THE BROWSER ...

    So prepare for the real Internet revolution

  55. Fab De Marco

    Surely Linux version just round the corner.

    needs to be included in GoogleOS... sorry good OS. Such an easy mistaker to maker

    Mines the one with the big G on the back

  56. amanfromMars Silver badge

    What is There 42 Deny.

    "How long before an OS? ".... By bobbles31 Posted Tuesday 2nd September 2008 12:10 GMT

    Your Registered Wish is @Ur Command, bobbles31

    Much More than just a CompleXXXX Simplified Browser .....with ITs Own AI Bowsers

    By amanfromMars

    Posted Tuesday 2nd September 2008 08:51 GMT

    Google Chrome .... ....their new browser, is in actual fact a whole new Virtual Operating System sitting in any Operating System/Computer/PDA into which it has been loaded.

    Google beating up Microsoft and making a Play for World Wide Web Pre-Eminence and Default Dominance through Soft Control/Product Placement of Shared Information ...... Mined MetaData.

    And it is a SMART Searching Engine too ..... A Virtual Machine which allows Third Party Proxy Virtual Machines to Plug In and Run their own Apps..... whenever they are Good enough :-)

    And now ..... to find it and download it .... for AI and Quantum Communications BetaTesting. :-)

  57. ratfox

    Competition for IE?

    I'm afraid the only browser it will be competing with are Firefox, Safari, Opera and other stragglers. I don't see how people who are still using IE would make the change... Most of them don't even know they have a choice.

  58. Nic
    Thumb Up

    I'm using it to write this

    And so far so good!

    Try the right-click "Inspect Element" Awsome! Like Dom inspector/IE Developer Toolbar.

    Very slick so far and the tabs work really well.

  59. mittfh

    Guess what? It encourages you to let it phone home - just as we predicted!

    Earlier today, I wrote:

    Finally, as others have commented, it wouldn't surprise me if there's an option (enabled by default of course!) to report "anonymous" usage data back to the 'plex...

    So, what do I see on the EULA screen:

    [ ] Optional: Help make Google Chrome better by automatically sending usage statistics and crash reports to Google.

    Follow the Lean more link:

    Information that's sent to Google includes crash reports and statistics on how often you use Google Chrome features. When you choose to accept a suggested query or URL in the address bar, the text you typed and the corresponding suggestion is sent to Google. Google Chrome doesn't send other personal information, such as name, email address, or Google Account information.

    We're psychic!

    You already know which coat I'm reaching for...

  60. SilverWave

    Choice is good - Firefox for the Geeks - Chrome for Googlers - IE for the Sheep.

    It would take an act of God to get me to move from Firefox3 + Extensions.

    But that's not the point.

    The point it to take back control of the web from Microsoft.

    Firefox is appealing to a larger and larger public but there is a huge installed base of IE users. These users may not know who Mozilla is but may be tempted by the trusted Google brand.

    To a lot of people the internet is IE ... if this webkit offer from Google helps change that then its all good :)

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Firefox - You've got t'ree, and you're playing catch up

    The process-per-tab model is also present in IE8, so it's interesting (but in no way surprising, El Reg) that no one made a big deal about it when that went Beta.

    IE appears to share processes for the tabs when more than a few tabs are open. I guess this is an attempt to mitigate the overhead of each heavyweight process, but does rather crap on the benefits for tab adicts. I doubt the plugins are run from a separate process though - this seems like a really nice feature of Chrome.

    If you kill the process for a tab IE restores it without telling you, which isn't my personal preference. Looks like if you repeatedly kill it, it finally 'fesses up to the problem though.

    What is clear is that Firefox have a lot of catching up to do. Chrome does seem really slick... and I can use it without associating with an army of self-satisfied Mozilla fanboys (who are already desperately denying the benefits Chrome brings)

  62. Robert Hill

    Chrome...(obligatory quote)

    "It was hot the night we burned Chrome. The flies were batting themselves to death against the lights..."

  63. Rich
    Thumb Down

    Not quite

    Actually, the thread/process answer is B-.

    Processes have their own memory space, while threads share a common space. But (especially in a managed environment like Java or C#) it is possible to design a multithreaded browser so that a hangup in one tab leaves the rest of the tabs running unaffected. Equally, a multiprocess browser could hang if a deadlock occurred on access to the screen.

    A cynic would say that rather than fix their AJAX so it doesn't hang Firefox and use 100% CPU half the bleeding time, Google are building a browser that tolerates it better.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Open source

    So where is the source?

  65. Anonymous Coward

    decisions decisions...

    Tis it wiser to pay for the convenience of IE through the purchase of a Microsoft OS? Or is it safer to bank the remaining vestiges of any perceived privacy on “the net” through Google’s browser offering? We're "Phucked" either way!

    Mine’s the one that says ‘damned if I do and damned if I don’t” on the back.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    "browsing habbits?"

    One browser to rule them all, etc...

  67. tempemeaty
    Black Helicopters

    User data...

    If it can be proven that Chrome isn't and even later still isn't sending data on the user back to mommy then it looks like we may have something here.

  68. Alex

    where's the source?


    get it so it won't phone home and I might be interested.

  69. Spunky McPunk

    the source

    is here

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    RE: Where's the source?


    As explained here:

    Paris, 'cos she's BOUND to be a Visual Studio 2005 developer...

  71. Charlie Bebop

    They must be joking!

    Has anyone seen the EULA? I enclose an excerpt:

    11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

    check this line carefully:

    ...By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services...

    So does that mean Google automatically holds the rights to anything I post through Chrome, including blogs, googleapps, and even posts on forums like this?

  72. Anonymous Coward

    Who owns the rights to your content when using Chrome?

    Be careful how you use Chrome.

  73. tempemeaty

    Great Chrome Plated POS EULA...

    Nice EULA. I wish all those in this world who have a little power would stop being such control freaks and stop always trying to find a new angle or way to rip us off.

  74. Jim Marshall

    Missing something

    Tried it. It borked the bookmarks it tried to import from FF3, and there isn't any means of bookmark management as far as I can tell... or find in those two widgets that are for "file functions" and "tools".

    Until it does, I'll put up with FF3.

  75. John B Stone
    Thumb Up

    Ooh SVG support, Ajax Business Intelligence is go

    Chrome supports SVG, which makes AJAX graphing and charting a doddle.

    I suspect now it is in Google Chrome that Microsoft will be forced to follow suit. This opens the door to much faster useful graphing in all browsers and paves the way for cheap Business Intelligence on the desktop.

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