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Google Chrome - Browser War III

Google will come out from behind the Firefox browser that it's profiting royally from and take direct aim at Microsoft

Tomorrow Google will come out from behind the Firefox browser that it's been pumping money into - and profiting royally from - and take direct aim at Microsoft with a browser of its very own.

The widgetry is called Google Chrome and Google Chrome, like all of Google's non-search widgetry, will be a beta.

Presumably that means it's going to be like Google's apps and be interminably in beta since Google's own blog says the timing is, well, "a bit early." (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/09/fresh-take-on-browser.html)

Anyway, Google says Chrome will initially run only on Windows. The Mac and Linux versions haven't reached beta status yet.

It will be released in 100 countries and Google describes it as "clean and fast." It says "It gets out of your way and gets you where you want to go."

It was only a few days ago that Google - the "do no evil" company - re-upped its financial arrangement with Mozilla, which was scheduled to end this November, and extended it three years until November of 2011.

It's been Google's millions - hundreds of millions by now - that have kept Firefox alive and Google has presumably reaped billions from Firefox' Google defaults in return.

But Google apparently wants to be its own gatekeeper - the browser is the threshold to search, isn't it?

The Wall Street Journal reports that Google is concerned that IE8 could hurt its search business like, say, by preventing it from collecting information relevant to its booming advertising business and offering a more Microsoft-centric search bar.

This way Google gets to scare the bejesus out of Microsoft by revitalizing Netscape's old browser-as-platform threat and keep Firefox around as a fallback position in case Chrome fails, all the while maintaining the good will of the "community."

Firefox, which might have started asking for more money, currently hold ~18% of the market to Microsoft ~75%.

Anyway, Google has been seriously working on the "GBrowser" project for two years, give or take, ever since it poached some prime Mozilla talent for the cause. Since then it's reportedly been through at least one serious rewrite and Goodness knows how many UI iterations.

Google signaled Chrome's imminent debut today by Fedexing a 38-page comic book - yes, a comic book - memorializing the browser's features to some of Google's nearest and dearest. (http://blogoscoped.com/google-chrome/)

The comics indicate that Chrome is open source and includes a new JavaScript rendering engine called V8 that's supposed to speed up fancy new rich web applications.

V8, by the way, which was written by a bunch of Danish coders, is supposed to run in any browser.

Chrome also includes Google Gears so applications can run offline and is based on Webkit, the KDE open source application framework used by Apple's Safari browser and Google's Android OS.

It also borrows a so-called privacy mode from Microsoft that will hide where the machine you're using has been (cops everywhere should love that one) - but won't mean the sites don't know you've been there.

Chrome's tabs, borrowed from Firefox, are supposed to appear above the address bar for some reason and are supposed to be the prime navigational element.

Each tab runs as its own process, sandboxed for stability and security. A problem in one tab won't bring the browser down.

And Chrome's so-called Omnibox is supposed to make useful search suggestions, in part based on sites you've been to, and your most visited sites should appear as thumbnails.

One might also expect integration with Google Talk, Gmail, Google Calendar etc.

The vigil is being held at www.google.com/chrome.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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