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Since 1st March, 1999
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Chrome’s cool
A screenshot of Google’s Chrome web browser

The browser war has begun once again. First it was Internet Explorer versus Firefox. Now there is a new entrant — Chrome, made by Google. The day I saw the link on Google’s home page I grabbed it. I was not disappointed at all. Downloading and installation was complete in just under five minutes. Its minimal design really impressed me.

Browsing on my Windows PC has become a breeze. Websites open faster, movies start streaming quickly and instant messengers run without a hitch; banking and shopping have become a pleasure. No fear of a crash in the middle of a banking transaction. How come we did not have such a light, clean browser earlier? The reason is that Google’s Chrome has been built from scratch. Its developers have borrowed the best from Firebox and Apple’s Safari browsers. Both are safe and clean, keeping you away from spyware and malware that affect IE in a big way.

Chrome is in its beta version and, being an open source project, it can only get better as more developers around the world contribute to make the web faster, safer and easier.

The first thing that you notice about Chrome is that the Address bar serves all your needs — search, web address and even your web history. That is quite cool.

A plus (+) sign on the top allows you to open a new tab. That’s not all. The new tab will display your most visited sites. Just drag the tab out and it turns into a new window!

Every tab is independent of the others. If one application in a tab crashes it will not take you down along with the entire browser. Your browser is still open and you do not lose anything elsewhere. That’s crash control.

You can surf in a private mode with Chrome. None of your web history is saved and all cookies are deleted. But that does not mean that the files saved in your computer are also deleted. If you have turned on Google Web History you will need to pause Web History tracking. Click the Web History link from the My Account page, and then the Pause link on the left side of the Web History page. Once you click Pause, your web activity won’t be kept in Web History or used to personalise your search results until you click Resume.

A page icon and a spanner icon on the top right of the browser windows will give you all the options that you require. There is no need to go hunting through several menus as in other browsers.

I loved Chrome. Type “about:internets” (without the quotes) in the address bar and be surprised. I will not be a spoilsport by giving away what will happen.

In the last week of August Microsoft released the second public beta of IE 8. I spent four hours trying to download it. Each time it came out with a two-liner: “Installation of Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 failed”. Then it told me that there was an icon on my desktop to resolve the problem. I tried all the six options provided, but it just would not install.

I finally succeeded the next day with a few tweaks here and there. On the face of it version 8 has some new features, but it is almost like IE 7.

Two new features on IE 8 are Private Browsing and SmartScreen Filter that warn you of scam websites. Chrome, too, has this feature. Other new additions are Web Slices and Accelerators. A Web Slice is a specific portion of a webpage that you can subscribe to, and which enables you to see when updated content available on the site. Once you have subscribed to the Web Slice, it appears as a link on the Favourites bar. When Web Slice is updated, the link on the Favourites bar will appear with bold formatting. You can then click to see the updated content.

Accelerators are a way to quickly find information on a webpage. Just select the text and a blue icon will give you the meaning of a word or open a street address on a mapping website.

I was not impressed at all by IE 8. Perhaps the final version will be better. For me it is Chrome on Windows and Safari on a Mac for now.

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