Google has officially acknowledged Google Chrome, a new open-source web browser that was accidentally leaked yesterday. Chrome, which incorporates Google’s Gears platform, is entering an already-crowded browser space, but with a unique philosophy. Google has built Chrome to behave like each browser window is an independent application — with its own computer memory and processor allocation, which keeps the content of each window separate and sandboxed from the rest, improving stability and security.
It seems pretty clear that, in addition to the straightforward goal of improving the web browsing experience and promoting their Gears platform, Google’s primary goal is to release a browser that is a fully-functional platform, decoupled from the underlying operating system, be it Windows, Mac, Linux, or something else entirely. It has been obvious for quite some time that Google believes that the future is in web-based applications, such as Gmail and Google Calendar, that live in the center of the network, rather than the traditional “edge” applications that live on our computers. Google (and others) call this “cloud computing” in reference to the idea that software code and data is always available from everywhere that a user can access the Internet. Because powerful “cloud” applications require powerful and standardized web browsers in which to run, it is in Google’s interest to improve the browser and expand it, with the ultimate goal of making the desktop operating system obsolete.
I personally disagree with this philosophy, believing that ubiquitous computing is coming and will be very individually-focused, but that is an argument for another day. For today, we can rehash the same old arguments about whether Google is a force for “good” or “evil,” about whether they can unseat Microsoft, etc. The rumor is that Chrome will be officially released tomorrow, and then we can see if the fuss is justified. Of course if Chrome comes out and it is only compatible with Windows, that will be a major strike against Google’s purported goals.