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It's real: Google to launch Web browser tomorrow

And Google Blogoscoped has the, um, scoop:

Today there was a comic book in my mail, sent by Google. Within the 38 pages, which I’ve scanned and put up in very readable format Google gives the technical details into a project of theirs: an open source browser called Google Chrome. The book points to, but I can’t see anything live there yet. In a nut-shell, here’s what the comic announces Google Chrome to be:

Google Chrome is Google’s open source browser project. As rumored before under the name of “Google Browser”, this will be based on the existing rendering engine Webkit. Furthermore, it will include Google’s Gears project.

So this is interesting. Instead of going with the Firefox rendering engine, which I have to say I would have preferred, Google is instead going with Webkit, the browser that powers Safari (both the PC application and the iPhone version).

The browser will include a JavaScript Virtual Machine called V8, built from scratch by a team in Denmark, and open-sourced as well so other browsers could include it. One aim of V8 was to speed up JavaScript performance in the browser, as it’s such an important component on the web today.

Google Chrome will use special tabs. Instead of traditional tabs like those seen in Firefox, Chrome puts the tab buttons on the upper side of the window, not below the address bar.

I wouldn't call these "special tabs." I'd call them "tabs." That happen to be in a slightly different place than they are in, say, IE or Firefox. Big deal. In fact, the comic books says, "We could detach the tabs easily because of the separation of the browser and the tab processes." IE has already separated out its tabs to unique processes. Moving tabs from window to window is cute, but come on. It's kind of an esoteric feature.

The browser has an address bar with auto-completion features. Called ’omnibox’, Google says it offers search suggestions, top pages you’ve visited, pages you didn’t visit but which are popular and more.

As a default homepage Chrome presents you with a kind of “speed dial” feature, similar to the one of Opera. On that page you will see your most visited webpages as 9 screenshot thumbnails.

Chrome has a privacy mode; Google says you can create an “incognito” window “and nothing that occurs in that window is ever logged on your computer.” The latest version of Internet Explorer calls this InPrivate. Google’s use-case for when you might want to use the “incognito” feature is e.g. to keep a surprise gift a secret. As far as Microsoft’s InPrivate mode is concerned, people also speculated it was a “porn mode.”

I love this blog, but sorry, this is clueless. When Microsoft demoed IE 8 Beta 2 for me three weeks ago, they used that exact usage scenario to explain InPrivate: That you'd want to buy a gift for a spouse, coworker, or whatever, and keep that a secret. The "porn mode" baloney is a name other people have used. IE's InPrivate feature is no more or no less a "porn mode" than is Google's "incognito" feature. Don't be dumb.

Web apps can be launched in their own browser window without address bar and toolbar. Mozilla has a project called Prism that aims to do similar (sic).

... But is here and actually works today. So I guess it's Google Chrome that "aims to do similar" to what Mozilla is doing.

To fight malware and phishing attempts, Chrome is constantly downloading lists of harmful sites. Google also promises that whatever runs in a tab is sandboxed so that it won’t affect your machine and can be safely closed. Plugins the user installed may escape this security model, Google admits.

OK. So obviously, I'm curious. But what we've really got here is an example of Google pulling a Microsoft: Creating an unnecessary me-too product that they can use for product tie-ins. All of the features here are present in exisiting browsers, all of them. So what does Google really bring to the table? Not much, it seems. But this is based on a report, not actual usage. You never know.

I'll look through the online version of the comic book and see whether there are any important details he left out.

UPDATE: Google has made an official blog post about the browser release.

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