First Look: Google Chrome
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After years of speculation and anticipation, Google has waded into the browser application arena with Chrome. How does it stand up next to Internet Explorer, Safari, and Firefox? Here’s a look.
The initial file you download from Google is ChromeSetup.exe. It is only a 475Kb executable and when you run it, it downloads more data from Google.
After the download completes, Google’s setup program begins the installation.
Unlike most Windows installation programs, you don’t have any options or control over what’s installed or any program locations. You also can’t see if there’s anything else being installed. Chrome’s installation program simply installs Chrome with settings defined by Google.
When the installation completes, Chrome displays this screen. You can now change some defaults by clicking Customize. Otherwise, Chrome will create shortcuts and pull in bookmarks.
Chrome imports bookmarks from Firefox. Even though Internet Explorer is installed on this test machine, Chrome didn’t seem to pull it in.
Naturally by default Chrome defaults to Google as its default search page. However, you can change it to another search engine.
Once you’ve chosen all of the basic settings, Google displays this page.
Here’s TechRepublic under Chrome.
When you click the Wrench icon for settings, you see this screen. The choices on the Basic tab are reasonably self-explanatory.
The Minor tweaks tab allows you to have Chrome save passwords for Web sites you visit. You can also set download locations.
The Under The Hood tab gives some more control over Chrome. Most interesting is the Use DNS Pre-fetching checkbox.
This checkbox allows Chrome to resolve addresses of links on a page in advance. This speeds up access to those links when you click them. Chrome doesn’t precache the linked pages, just the IP addresses of the links.
Scrolling down the Under The Hood tab. Here you see a setting for Phishing and Malware protection. You can also control cookies and SSL settings here.
As viewed in Task Manager. Here’s how much memory Chrome uses.
Like all modern browsers, you can load multiple tabs under Chrome. What does it do to memory usage??
As you can see, each tab loads up a new chrome.exe process. Memory usage jumps dramatically, but not as much as Firefox 3.0 running the same tabs.
There’s a processor spike usage here.
As you can see, loading up all of the TechRepublic tabs has spiked processor usage.
The culprit is the Video tab on TR.
On our test machine, the Flash plugin crashed, showing this error.
Reloading the Video tab after the crash displays this error. It eventually comes up with no error.
Chrome vs. IE 7
Chrome and IE render the TechRepublic home page very similarly.
Chrome vs. Safari for Windows.
Even though both Safari and Chrome are created using WebKit, it’s interesting to see that Safari For Windows renders fonts quite differently on TR than Chrome.
As you can see, there seems to be a different default fault and anti-aliasing.
Chrome Vs. Firefox 3.0
Like it did with IE, Chrome renders TechRepublic just about the same as Firefox 3.0
A nice feature in Chrome allows you to add a URL to the desktop of your workstation or to the Start menu and Quick Launch bar.
Chrome includes a Private Browsing feature called Incognito mode. This will prevent the browser from retaining history and cookies on sites you visit temporarily.
TechRepublic in Incognito mode.
Chrome includes its own Task Manager to see what’s going on under the hood.
Chrome’s Task Manager allows you to kill individual Chrome processes. You can see CPU and memory usage for each process.
If you click Stats For Nerds in Task Manager, you’ll see this special Web page. It shows detailed memory usage, including page file memory as well as actual RAM usage.
Here you can see the effect of loading all TR tabs. Memory usage is lower than with Firefox 3.0, IE, or Safari For Windows loading the same tabs.
Chrome also has its own Download Manager.
The Download manager appears across the bottom of the screen. You can see how much is left to download.
If you click Show All Downloads, you’ll see a detailed list of what’s downloading in Chrome, including what’s recently featured. You can click the link to display the information.
Download pop-up windows can display content. Here’s a PDF in a Chrome download pop-up.
A unique feature to Chrome is the ability to tear off loaded tabs into new windows.
Click the tab you want to tear off and hold the mouse button down. When you drag the mouse, you’ll see a thumbnail of the torn window appear.
When you release the mouse button, the torn tab appears in a new Chrome window.