I'm here at the Googleplex for a press conference to announce the new Google browser, called Chrome. The service will go live at 12 Noon PT today and is available for Windows Vista and XP - for now. Mac and Linux versions are coming soon. It will launch in 122 countries and 43 languages. It is also fully open-source. (Download it here.)
The presentation begins with an explanation of Chrome, acknowledging that it's a complex product that is needed in an age when the Web has also become more complex. Example: Google Maps and add-on features like Street View. Google says the guts of the browser - the core infrastructure of it - is still very much the same as it was a decade or more ago.
Google pushes simple use and a sophisticated core. Just look at how clean and simple the Google search page. Google Chrome is built on the same idea - clean and simple to use. The browser, Google says, is just another application and the company wants people to "forget" that they're using a browser.
At it's core is Webkit, an open-source rendering enginer - the same used by Safari. The browser in Android also uses Webkit. The browser also uses a multi-process architecture. Each tab within the browser runs independently, making the browser faster and more responsive. If one tab slows down or crashes, it doesn't affect the others. The company says it also enhances security features by operating in a "sandbox," and not allowing corrupt the whole system.
The company also announced today Chromium, the open source project.
Update: In Chrome, the "omnibox" is both the search and address box. It incorporates a feature that fills in the blank, remembering sites where you go regularly. One cool feature: incorporating search fields from other sites - such as Amazon - into the search box of Chrome. Example: If you go into Chrome and type Amazon and then search for Stephen King, the next time you go to Amazon on Chrome, it incorporates a search field to search within Amazon - before you get to that site.
Update: When you create a new tab, instead of bringing up a blank page or home page, it creates a "new tab" page that shows links and images to most visited pages, recently closed tabs and search engine boxes for favorite sites such as Yelp, Wikipedia and Amazon. In Google Chrome, there is also an "incognito window" feature - which is much like the private browsing feature found in IE8 (often called porn mode.) The history from this browsing experience does not appear on the computer.
Update: Google has reinvented the download process, as well, placing shortcuts to the downloaded files to the bottom of the page - not forcing users to search for them in folders. From there, the files can be dragged to other locations. There is also a feature that treats some Web applications as computer applications. For example, Gmail, which is an always-on application for some people, can be launched from a desktop shortcut - just like a real app - and open in its own window, without the address bar and other tools it doesn't need.
Update: They're talking about the multi-processing tabs that work independently of each other. Security benefits from the architecture takes away the privileges of accessing files on the computer that it doesn't need - such as registry files. In other browsers, bad guys looking to install malware only have to find the files to corrupt in the system. But in Chrome, there's an added layer of security by not allowing access outside of the browser, keeping bad guys get trapped in the sandbox - the closed, independent browser that's running.
Update: As the press conference wraps up, Google re-emphasizes that Chrome is fully open-source and is not tied to Google search or any other Google application. Larry Page makes a cameo to offer his support for the product and congratulate the Chrome team on its work. He noted that we don't want to love in a world where things can't be improved and that's why Google is committed to the open-source platform with Chrome. Advancements, he said, can be made much faster than in the past by using that mindset. He notes that it's challenging to build a browser but that it's been tested for some time inside the walls of Google and the response has been good.
The press conference ends and Google opens the floor to questions.
Update: Google gives props to Mozilla for re-igniting browser technology advancements and said the companies will continue to work together closely. There's hope that, just as Google has tapped existing tools and technologies to develop Chrome, it hopes that others will also implement Chrome's technologies, as well.
Update: The development of Chrome has been going on for about two years and migrated from a rumor to a reality. The company wouldn't comment on the number of employees working on it, other than to note it has been a "huge" investment. The company was asked about the financial benefit - leading to the idea that ads could be placed on the page - but dodged the question directly as to whether ads would be placed on the page. The company did note that the company does well when more people spend time on the Internet - and Google-branded pages. If users become more accustomed to the Web experience - as opposed to client-based applications - they're more likely to spend time interacting with Google. As for whether Google Chrome could be considered the operating system for Web apps, Sergey Brin said that's not exactly right. However, the browser is in its first version and remains in Beta. The company, by making it open, is encouraging development. Could Chrome eventually morph into the Web's operating system? Maybe.
Gallery: First look at Google Chrome
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes: Liveblogging the Google Chrome Announcement