Google Chrome is a freeware web browser that was released as a beta version for Microsoft Windows on September 2, 2008, and fully released on December 11, 2008 as a standalone. As of November 2012, usage share is 35 percent worldwide. A mobile version for Android was released on November 28, 2012.
When Google first thought of developing a web browser, chairman Eric Schmidt opposed, but after hiring several developers from Mozilla who built and demonstrated Chrome, he changed his mind. Google Chrome was announced through a 38 page comic and sent to journalists and made available on Google books on September 1, 2008. It was released to the public in beta form on September 2, 2008 in 43 languages.
In December 2009, Google released beta versions of Chrome for OS, X, and Linux operating systems. On May 25, 2010, Google Chrome 5 was released supporting all three platforms. It was also offered as one of the twelve browsers to European Economic Area users of Microsoft windows.
Chrome was developed by using 25 different code libraries from Google, Mozilla’s Netscape Portable Runtime, Network Security Services, NPAPI, and other open source projects. Chrome uses the Webkit rendering engine to display its web pages with unit testing, fuzz testing, and Webkit’s layout tests.
On January 11, 2011 Google announced it would remove H.264 support for the HTML5 player, but on November 6, 2012 Google released a version of Chrome on Windows using H.264 and as of December 2012 the future of H.264 has not been discussed. On February 7, 2012, a Beta version was released for Android 4.0 devices, and Chrome is the default browser on devices with Jelly Bean pre-installed. In March, 2012 Chrome was announced for both Metro and desktop versions of Windows 8.
The security of Chrome uses updates from two blacklists to monitor phishing and malware, and warns users if they attempt to enter a harmful site. It also has an allocation to prevent what happens on one tab to affect another tab. This is similar to a mode used by Internet Explorer 9 and 10. In December 2011, Google Chrome 12 and 13 were considered having better security the either Explorer 9 or Mozilla 5. Chrome’s security was compromised twice in 2012 at computer hacking contest and the fixes were deployed within ten hours. Chrome 23 fixed 15 other security risks with six of them being high sensitivity.
Plugins for Chrome run as an unrestricted separate process and cannot be sandboxed, and Chrome does not support ActiveX. On March 30, 2010 Adobe Flash was bundled with Chrome with automatic updates when the browser is updated. Java is also supported in Chrome 12 and above.
A private browsing feature allows users to request that no cookies or history information is stored from websites that are visited. However, Chrome sends Google details on user usage through a tracking system. Some of these can be optionally disabled or enabled at installation and in the browser’s option menu. Information typed into the Omnibox is sent to the search provider before the user hits send; this allows the search engine to quickly provide URL suggestions. At the end 2012, Google implemented Do Not Track into Chrome version 23.
Chrome uses built in DNS to speed up website lookups, called DNS Pre-resolution. It also uses SPDY protocol instead of HTTP when communicating with Google. Chrome also has a feature called process isolation which prevents tasks from interfering with each other giving better security and stability.
The user interface has back, forward, refresh, cancel, and menu buttons. The home button can be added through the settings page which is used for customizing the home page. The address bar is also used as the search box. When a user begins typing in the Omnibox, suggestions of previously entered search topics along with suggestions based on the text are displayed. It has a bookmark bar to store favorite sites visited.
Chrome web store was opened on February 11, 2011 and released with Chrome 9. It allows users to install applications to the browser with most being a link to the web page or site. Themes and extensions are part of the Chrome web store and users can search catalogs for Chrome extras. In December 2009, Chrome extension gallery offered over 300 different extensions and by February 4, 2011 more than 11,500 were available. Many of these extensions have access to the user’s data. Themes are also available from Chrome 3 and up accessible through the options menu. A translation bar was added with Chrome 4.1, currently able to translate 52 languages.
Google, on January 8, 2009 introduced new release systems, with three channels, Stable, Beta, and Developer preview (DEV). The Stable channel is updated with fixes and features once they have been thoroughly tested. The Beta channel will be updated monthly. The Dev is where the ideas get tested for the Beta and Stable versions. July 22, 2010, Google announced stable version will be released every six weeks instead of quarterly. With that, another channel was released called Canary. Google will use this channel for experimental changes in development, if the canary version is killed by the change, then it will be blocked from the DEV channel.
On January 10, 2013 Chrome beta was released for Android and it runs side by side with the stable channel.
Chrome is available for Windows service pack 2 or later, Vista, Windows 7 and 8; also for OS X 10.6 or later; Linux Ubuntu 10.4 or later; Debian 6 or later; openSUSE 11.3 or later and Fedora. It is also available on Apple’s iOS, including the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, as well as on Android 4.0 or later.
At the 2012 Google I/O developers conference it was claimed that there were 310 million active users of Chrome.