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Google 'starting from scratch' with own browser, Chrome

Google is reportedly working an open source browser that would compete with Firefox and the other popular browsers. It appears that Google has ambitions to create a complete Internet operating system.

Update at 2:36 p.m. PDT: It's official: Google Chrome will be available Tuesday.

Word surfaced Monday of a Web "comic book" introducing Google Chrome, the search giant's long-rumored open-source browser project. While the illustrations, created by cartoonist Scott McCloud, were not announced by Google, they do contain the quotes and likenesses of 19 Google developers.

A Web comic, reposted on Google Blogoscoped, introduces Google Chrome. Google Blogoscoped

The detailed, 38-page comic appeared on Google Blogoscoped, an unofficial Google blog. Update: The comic is now available on Google Book Search. The book is broken down into five main sections covering stability; speed; search and the user experience, security, and standards. Here are the key features, according to the book:

Browser tabs will be detachable. Google Blogoscoped

Each tab will run in its own process. These processes will be completely isolated from each other, will be killable from the operating system's process manager, and will be sandboxed to prevent them from accessing information on the user's computer. This architecture should lead to a more stable and more consistent browsing experience--performance of the browser should not degrade over time.

Google is using its search index to prioritize testing of the browser--the pages that are linked to the most from Google Search are getting the most automated hits to make sure Chrome is behaving correctly on them.

The browser is being written with WebKit, the open-source engine at the core of Apple's Safari and Google's Android. The browser is also getting a new Javascript virtual machine, V8. It's said to be a better solution for complex and rich Web applications--it should yield better performance as well as "smoother drag and drops" in interactive applications.

Search and user experience
In Chrome, browser tabs will take over the interface, becoming the primary navigational element. Each tab will get its own window controls. Users will be able to tear off tabs into standalone windows. (Related: developers will be able to control which window controls appear in a tab, creating, if they wish, Web applications that are embedded in a browser but that appear to be more like traditional desktop apps.)

Chrome's URL entry field will be called the "Omnibox," and, like Mozilla's "Awesome bar," will feed you suggestions based on your browsing history and live search results. It will be respectful of users, the comic says: "Inline completions will never flicker, never flash. It's perfect, aesthetically non-distracting."

Chrome will integrate URL entry and search queries into the Omnibox. Google Blogoscoped

The browser's default start page will show thumbnails of the user's most frequently visited pages and a list of their top searches. There will also be a private browsing mode, as IE 8 has.

Chrome's architecture lends itself to secure browsing. Each Web page, or tab, runs in its own process, and is blocked from accessing other processes on the computer. "We've taking the existing process boundary," the comic says, "and made it into a jail." Different and more flexible permissions are being developed for plug-ins, however.

A database and API to access phishing and scam sites will be used in Chrome (and made public), which will hopefully reduce "zero-day" scam exploits. The browser will be constantly updated with this information.

The browser will be released as an open-source project. Also, Google will build the open-source local runtime Gears into the browser, and is hoping that it is taking up widely to "improve the base functionality of all browsers."

Yes, this is big
CNET Editor in Chief Dan Farber's analysis of Google Chrome Monday was this: "It would be in line with other Google open-source projects, such as OpenSocial and Google Gears. Creating a competitor to Firefox, as well as Internet Explorer and Opera, could spur more innovation."

"Open sourcing the code is a smart way to avoid the 'Google wants to take over the world' fear, but it seems that Google has ambitions to create a comprehensive Internet operating system, including a browser, applications, middleware and cloud infrastructure."

The browser's start page will show thumbnails or previews of the user's most visited sites. Google Blogoscoped

No official confirmation from Google yet, although Kara Swisher of All Things D cites sources who say that Google will make a Chrome download available to users by as early as tomorrow.

See also:

Kara Swisher: Google Ignites a New Browser War With Microsoft By Unveiling One of its Own This Week

Click here for full coverage by CNET News of the Google Chrome launch.

Coverage on Techmeme