What's Chrome for? Ain't it obvious?

What's Chrome for? Ain't it obvious?

Summary: So during lunchtime today I got to play with Chrome a bit. It's got a nice clean implementation, and it's fast.

TOPICS: Browser, Google


So during lunchtime today I got to play with Chrome a bit. It's got a nice clean implementation, and it's fast. Sure, it doesn't do everything that either Firefox or Internet Explorer does yet, but hey, it's a beta. I like it.

The burning question a lot of analysts and my ZDNet comrades may have, however, is why do we need another browser? I mean both Internet Explorer and Firefox are robust, right? And Safari and Konqueror are perfectly good browser platforms too.

I think we all know what the answer is, but we're afraid to say it -- Google is taking an entry directly from the Microsoft playbook: Embrace and Extend.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

Say what? Google does no evil! Chrome is Open Source! Google has exposed its API's! Perlow, how can you say such a stupid thing?

Well, perhaps I should qualify how Google is going to "Embrace and Extend". Instead of taking Internet standards and making their own proprietary extensions to try to control a platform, Google is going to do with Chrome what Microsoft is doing with .NET and Silverlight -- create a web-based application deployment platform that is fully optimized for use with Google's online services, such as their core search engine, their Google Office suite, GMail, Google Maps, Google Base, and Google Everything Else. In effect, Chrome will become the new computing platform to compete with Windows, the Mac and even iPhone. So in essence, they are "Extending" their own online platform to a browser platform which they can have full control over and optimize for use with their own online properties -- such as with the built-in Gears functionality. The ultimate expression of eating your own dog food.

Sure, everything that will be in Chrome will be Open Sourced in various different licenses. Gears, for example, has already been released into the BSD license and is a downloadable plugin for Firefox. Some of the other enabling technologies in the browser are borrowed from Mozilla and Webkit, which are already Open Source. So is there any cause for concern here?

Well, yes and no. If Google is truly "do no evil", they'll make every single piece of code that goes into Chrome browser from the Chromium project available to anyone who wants it at any time, so that other browsers such as Firefox, Safari, and Konqueror will be able to incorporate the same Google-optimizing features.

But there will be a catch. If you want the best experience with Google stuff, you'll want to use Chrome, because it will become the highest on the food chain in terms of browser support, and it will have all the cool features before everyone else does. Want the new super-cache offline store and forward whatchamacallit mode for GMail? Oh, its Open Source, and it uses the latest Gears implementation in beta, but it will take the Firefox guys a few months or another version to implement it. But we got it in Chrome!

And once everyone is completely hooked on Google's apps and is completely dependent on its APIs for just about everything, (aka, the "Cloud") particularly once things like Mashups start using more and more of their stuff, it will be fairly easy to make the transition to the Linux version of Chrome, or better yet, on embedded versions with Android devices. And you can bet that when compared to Chrome Embedded, iPhone is going to be a second class citizen.

Everyone, meet the new boss. The same as the old boss. But because we all love Google, we WILL get fooled again. And we'll love it.

Will Chrome become the most important browser in Google's support food chain or simply an advanced technology demonstrator? Talk Back and Let me know.

Topics: Browser, Google


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • Really?

    "I think we all know what the answer is, but we?re afraid to
    say it ? Google is taking an entry directly from the
    Microsoft playbook: Embrace and Extend."

    Really? By basing it on open source projects? ;-)

    Google is going after the platform, the same way Netscape
    did. MS identified the threat and set-out to illegally crush

    Here we are again a decade later and another, better
    funded and with antitrust protection having another go.
    With Vista MS has proved they're irrelevant to the future of
    computing (late, floor littered with dropped features,
    simply catch-up to other OSes). With the rise of web-
    based apps, nettops and powerful open kernels, and
    splintering of the desktop market Google has a real chance
    to pull it off.

    Let's not forget Google's recent interest in and support for

    I wish them every success.
    Richard Flude
    • hmm

      "Really? By basing it on open source projects?"

      Isn't Darwin an open source project ?

      "MS identified the threat and set-out to illegally
      crush Netscape."

      Unfairly yes,illegally no.

      "With the rise of web-based apps, nettops and powerful
      open kernels, and splintering of the desktop market
      Google has a real chance to pull it off."

      Well i would prefer to see Linux take off than Web
      apps and cloud computing becoming important to the
      point of representing a threat to true O.S.

      "I wish them every success."

      Not me.
      We don't need an equivalent of M.S for cloud
      • There will be "an equivalent of M.S. for cloud computing"...

        ... and it will of course be Microsoft's products interacting with other Microsoft products. With full allowance for the desktop and its operating system.

        The hope is to create a new environment which can displace the environment Microsoft owns.

        As some open source advocates observed, if Linux could make no progress before the arrival of Vista, Microsoft will own the desktop for at least 10 years. Linux is still at less than 1%. The captious attacks on Vista notwithstanding, Microsoft continues its dominance.

        The cloud is hardly reliable and secure enough yet to be a challenge. And by the time it is, Microsoft will have vertically integrated it.

        So you don't have to worry about "Web
        apps and cloud computing becoming important to the point of representing a threat to true O.S." Microsoft will fit the pieces together.

        You did make an error when you commented about Microsoft's elimination of a prior web-based threat: "Unfairly yes, illegally no." Some of the tactics used were adjudged illegal in the US anti-trust case.

        Turns out not to have been necessary. Computing evolves rather than leaps, and the companies best positioned to steer the evolution gain benefits.
        Anton Philidor
  • RE: What's Chrome for? Ain't it obvious?

    Chrome mines your personal data and browsing habits so
    that Google Corp can more effectively serve you "relevant text
    advertisements". What else are Google applications for?

    • Only if you let them

      Google Chrome [i]does not[/i] mine your data in any
      way shape or form [i]unless[/i] you give Chrome your
      express permission to do so by checking the
      appropriate box during install (and it's not checked
      by default).

      For that matter, Firefox, IE 8.0 and Opera also have
      options to do the same thing (send usage statistics to
      [insert company's name here] so that we may better
      your user experience blah-blah-blah) so Google's
      hardly the only one doing this nor are they the first.
      That plus Chrome has an "Incognito" mode where
      absolutely no browsing data is recorded anywhere, not
      even Google could get at it.

      If you choose to believe otherwise despite all their
      (meaning Google, MS, Mozilla and Opera) reassurances
      then that's entirely your matter but in the light of a
      public conversation, try to keep a bit of objectivity.
      • does it have a "noscript" tool ?

        just a question. And also, can you change this privacy "preference" AFTER installation, flipping it off in the GUI?

        I can't find out myself, since they don't support Linux. Thanks in advance!
        Rick S._z
        • Yes, you can...

          You can easily turn this usage stats function on or
          off after installation by going into Chrome's Options
          and under the "Under the hood" tab, the top section
          has the checkbox for this. Just un-check it and you're

          And OSX and Linux versions are in the works. Google
          didn't slight Mac or Linux users in this, it's just
          the way development of cross platform software needs
          to be properly done is all. Release for the most
          popular platform and work out those respective bugs
          first. After this version is working smoothly,
          [i]then[/i] release for one or both of the others,
          otherwise bug tracking can turn into an absolute
          nightmare and solutions take all that much longer to
  • Platform play by its nature is EEE

    People use the platform, like it and then stick to it because they dislike change. Once they settle on a platform, they are in for a long ride regardless if the platform is designed to lock in or not.
    • Until you show them something BETTER

      It is true people dislike change. But that goes away when you show them something better.

      I was helping a friend this weekend, and in the process I introduced her to Firefox. She never even heard of it, but as soon as she opened a web page, she was hooked. It was amazing to see her reaction to the speed of Firefox compared to IE. With IE she was used to waiting 3-5 secs to see a page (sometimes longer). Now is almost instant.
      • Same here

        I've been unsuccessfully trying to get my wife to
        switch to Firefox since 3.0 came out and to no avail
        until recently (she abhors updating anything). IE 6.0
        wasn't letting her into some sites or the loading took
        forever so I installed Firefox 3.0.1 onto her desktop
        (Windows XP Pro). After importing all her settings
        from IE, she went to one of these troublesome sites
        and was able to load the site almost instantaneously
        and log in to her account under 3 secs (IE 6.0 took
        over 20 secs to log in once the page was loaded).

        So although it's correct that the majority of users
        tend to stick to what they know, case in point; in
        everyone's thoughts Explorer, change does come
        eventually...it's inevitable.
  • Right Move for Wrong Reasons

    I'd like to see another browser succeed, but I think Google is doing this to get control of 'privacy mode' that threatens their business model.

    Kevin, G-Portal UK
  • Only if SaaS Succeeds

    Google is betting SaaS (cloud computing) is the future, and is positioning Chrome to be the SaaS OS of choice, It's not just another browser to compete with what is out there. But the jury is still out on the success of SaaS and cloud computing. Don't believe the tabloid tech journalism. The demise of the traditional computer based OS and applications is greatly exaggerated. And what Google is offering now, as far as cloud based computing, is mediocre at best. Google's chrome is interesting, but is not going to have much impact.
  • RE: What's Chrome for? Ain't it obvious?

    If this is "embrace and extend" it is odd. They opened the code up on various open licenses and BSD style license. So someone else can create a new browser from the various bits from chrome. What makes more sense is that Google is seeding the market with technology that others can add to their browsers and platforms. An example is that V8 engine is under the BSD license. That means if MS wanted to include it in IE they could. This looks more like Google trying to influence the direction of future browser development.
    • RE

      If you read the cartoon google put out on chrome:
      that's exactly what they are trying to do.
  • Bunk!

    Jason better brush up on his history. Remember Java? It was going to be the new computing platform. Remember Oracle's "Net PC"? It was going to do away with Windows and other operating systems. Riiiiiiiiight (in Dr. Evil's voice)

    Those who don't know history, are doomed to repeat it. And in this case, it's Jason making predictions that "Chrome will become the new computing platform to compete with Windows, the Mac..."

    What I *think* Jason is trying to say, is that Chrome is likely to make inroads into SAAS, or Software As A Service -- So instead of having to install Microsoft Office on your desktop computer, and update it, etc., SAAS delivers software *functionality* via a brower. Do your own research into SAAS. It's been around for a while. It has some applications, but so far, there are no indications that it is poised to displace the "installed on your computer" software we know today. At least, not for the vast majority of computer users.
  • RE: What's Chrome for? Ain't it obvious?

    tryed it for one day and pulled he plug. delete it. to much b.s. for this guy. same with ie 8. they both can keep them. at least goggle set it so it can be deleted not like m.s.ie 8 where it can't be deleted
  • Well of course Google is using it to grab market

    You thought they did it to be nice guys?
  • Novice Users: More Browsers, More Problems...

    Although I respect and applaud Google for their development of Chrome, I sincerely hope Google keeps glitches, conflicts and security issues to an absolute minimum.

    Given I work mainly with PC-challenged novices, one common issue I deal with is finding so many crapware and toolbar apps loading at startup it either slows a PC down to a crawl or crashes it entirely. Since I'm sure Google will force feed Chrome to users via their sites and bundled add-ons (similar to Yahoo's toolbar integrated into Adobe Reader installs), it may end up as one more unneeded and unused application clogging system resources.

    For those of us who deal with PCs lacking security settings that ban new software installs without Admin. permission, I hope Google takes the high road and makes Chrome a choice - not an application that installs by default and definitely not an app which automatically ties itself to startup.
  • RE: What's Chrome for? Ain't it obvious?

    Google wants to lock you into their services so they can start charging you later for them while at the same time forcing you to view their ads. Not to mention their browser is broken and insecure.
    Loverock Davidson
    • Forcing? Broken? Insecure?...

      ... Wow! Plumbing the depths of over-the-edge-ism, aren't we - just a bit?

      Locking into their services? Hmmmm.

      I decided to try it, since IE8 was simply not workable for what I want (Java weather all over the place). It downloaded and installed ?ber-easily and worked - after being "compelled" to download and install a ? version of Java - and worked, ... and works.

      Sorry, but I wasn't forced; I chose to try it. In doing so, I found that I could make it my "default browser", and have. It's simply better, much faster - in my use - than IE-anything, FireFox - after 2.x, Opera, Safari, or, ... anything I have ever used.

      Note: I have reduced, or ceased, usage of the other browsers because, right now, I prefer how Chrome performs. If/when something else comes along which pleases me more, I'll use that. Where's the Locking in?

      Broken? It's just out of the chute! It's ?! It's only for people to see what they can "break" and then collectively seek to fix, alter, or avoid the problem(s). It's not, by any claim(s) a finished product.

      Insecure? Well, at least one security flaw has been publicized, and that's not going to last long. That's the nature of the game.

      "[T]heir browser is broken and insecure". Well, I'd like to see videos of you walking, talking, and playing professional Soccer before you're a week old; might make for an interesting and compelling story. It works for me; and that's more than I could get from Vi$ta after it was on the shelves and the demos could not even boot, ... remember?

      BTW, I have since worked with Vi$ta and actually found some interesting things I might decide to use in the next year, so I'm pliable, when conditions are right - even to the point of admitting that I might be wrong; are you?

      Forcing? Broken? Insecure? Well, while it may not accurately describe Chrome; it might say a lot about character, don't you agree?