What’s Google Chrome all about, Google?

According to those nice people at Google, its latest offering, Google Chrome, “is a browser that combines a minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the web faster, safer, and easier” John Naughton, in this Sunday morning’s Observer column for The Observer, believes that it’s good deal more than that.


He reminds his readers that when Netscape, the company that brought the first significant browser to the market, began, in 1994/1995, to release software could become the gateway to computing services and  talk carelessly about the browser replacing the operating system, it was destroyed by Microsoft, which rightly saw this as a threat to its monopoly. With Google Chrome, Google poses the same threat to Microsoft. He writes that “even in its unfinished state” Google Chrome “heralds a radical change in our ideas about what a browser is and what it does”.


What’s happened is that the browser has morphed from a passive viewing device into a platform for running increasingly complicated applications across the internet. It’s become a kind of mini operating system. Since Google’s corporate future is predicated on web applications, the capability of the browser is of critical interest to the company and its geeks have clearly concluded it’s no longer up to the job. As one astute commentator (Nicholas Carr) put it, ‘To Google, the browser has become a weak link in the cloud system – the needle’s eye through which the outputs of the company’s massive data centres usually have to pass to reach the user – and as a result the browser has to be rethought, revamped, retooled, modernised’.

So what’s to stop Google suffering a similar fate as Netscape?

Google is a tougher proposition than poor old Netscape ever was. Looks like Bill Gates got out just in time.

[read on]


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