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Google Chrome and the fear of Zunezilla

Google Chrome? Hip and cool or just a flash of mediocrity to come?

The buzz around Google's "Chrome" browser is unreal. I'm not sure if it's because we are so starved for innovation or because we really are just living in Google's world at this point.

Over at WSJ, Walt Mossberg cuts through much of the hype:

Chrome is a smart, innovative browser that, in many common scenarios, will make using the Web faster, easier and less frustrating. But this first version--which is just a beta, or test, release--is rough around the edges and lacks some common browser features Google plans to add later. These omissions include a way to manage bookmarks, a command for emailing links and pages directly from the browser, and even a progress bar to show how much of a Web page has loaded.

The big question is what this portends for the desktop market and particularly Windows. It's clear that this is a direct attack on IE's 75% market share but not clear how Google intends to get Chrome into the hands of users. Maybe it will finally launch the oft-rumored Google OS, or maybe their goal is to remove the reliance on the operating system entirely.

A very interesting use case would be to integrate Chrome with something like DeviceVM, which provides an "instant-on" application set to bypass the operating system to get users up and running with a subset of applications immediately.

There is however a very real possibility of this ending up as Zunezilla (credit to Matt Asay for the Zune reference), an also-ran version of Firefox successfully launched to a minimal audience. It's hard to see why users would choose Chrome over Firefox (or even IE) unless they are forced into doing so. And at this point we haven't heard anything about relationships with PC makers to make me think that there will be immediate critical mass.

You can see more CNET coverage and Rafe's liveblog from the press conference here.