Google celebrates 3 years of Chrome

Cape Town - Google is celebrating the third anniversary of the launch of the Chrome browser.

"If you look at the number of active users around the world, it has also grown - we have 160 million active users and I think there's a small celebration. I think we'll have cake," Lars Bak, one of the key men behind Google Chrome told News24 from Denmark.

He said that the browser market was "stagnant" when Google approached him and Chrome was built to improve three critical areas: Performance, simplicity and security.

"The main purpose of this browser was to spark innovation into the whole browser industry."

Chrome was released in 2008 and according to Statcounter.com, is the fastest growing browser, growing to 23% of users in August 2011.

Minimalist


"We sent out the beta version in 2008 and it was already very fast at that point and we've improved it since. But you can also see all the browser vendors have been investing a lot in performance of the browser and most browsers today are incredibly fast compared to three, four years ago," Bak.

When the Chrome browser débuted, it broke with tradition and used a minimalist interface. Bak said that this was desgined so that the user could focus on the web rather than the application.

Security was a key concern, especially given that the browser is open source so anybody can see how it is built or download the source code.

"When you create a new tab, the tab will run in a separate process without any privileges. So it means that even if you break the first level of security in the browser, you are still sitting in a 'sandbox' - you cannot touch the underlying operating system," said Bak.

There is competition in the browser market and Microsoft's once dominant Internet Explorer is rapidly losing market share while Chrome accelerates.

There are also desktop browsers like Safari and Opera which enjoy a smaller following.

Google doesn't see the competition as a threat to its position.

Shared technology

"We would welcome diversity in that field because competition will help the user get a better experience when browsing the web.

"For us, it's not taking away something from the rest, it's basically adding to the industry," Bak said.

He said that the mobile and desktop browsers share some technology, but that a merge between the two is still some way off.

"The two browsers are actually sharing more technology than you expect. For instance, the renderer called WebKit is the same; the V8 Java Script engine we developed here is also part of the Android platform.

"So we are sharing bigger parts behind the scenes of the two browsers and more will come, but you also have to understand that the user interface for a mobile application is very different from the user interface for a desktop application and that has to be solved in a proper way too."

Bak who works with a small team, said that the development of the browser was ongoing and despite success, there was still much do to.

"Even though we've been in the market for three years, we're not done yet."


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