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Google Shines Up Chrome

Google today announced the beta release of its open source Chrome Web browser. Based on the WebKit rendering engine and featuring the new V8 JavaScript engine for accelerating the performance of JavaScript code, Chrome could quickly challenge Internet Explorer and Firefox as a leading Web browser.

As RDN Executive Editor Jeffrey Schwartz reports, industry analysts believe Google's Chrome will have an impact that extends far beyond the browser market. In an interview, IDC Program Director Al Hilwa described Chrome as "Google's platform play."

"It's really becoming the new operating system. And over time this is going to be a significant threat [to Microsoft]," Hilwa said. "Much like virtualization technologies, you are seeing browsers really coming back to being a disruptive force."

So disruptive, in fact, that I expect the Microsoft-Google battle to reach a whole new level over the next year or so. Google has spent a lot of time and effort to build out its platform base from search and ad serving to a robust suite of online applications and developer tools.

So make no mistake: Google Chrome is not just another Mozilla Firefox, a capable Web browser that could eat into IE's market share. Where the Mozilla Foundation's vision seems to have very clear and distinct limits, Google's ambition knows no bounds. Hilwa and other industry watchers fully expect Chrome to emerge as a full-fledged platform, and I'm certain that Microsoft executives are reaching the same conclusions.

What does it mean for developers? Well, I expect a surge of competitive activity as Google and Microsoft both sharpen their toolsets and release updated browser and platform software. I also expect Chrome will quickly achieve prominence, forcing dev shops to support yet another browser target. So the short-term result will be more work for Web developers.

Long-term? Well, you tell me. Can Google do what Netscape and others failed to accomplish, and unseat Windows? E-mail me at

Posted by Michael Desmond on 09/02/2008 at 1:15 PM

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