I have been playing with Google’s new web browser, Chrome, for a few hours now and have come to the following conclusion: Chrome will change the game, not just with web browsers, but with desktop applications too. Microsoft should be very worried by this turn of events. Why do I say this?
If you do as I did, and just look at this software in terms of a simple web browser, which it is, then it doesn’t actually seem all that impressive. Sure it has a very fast rendering engine in WebKit, and the V8 Java engine is very fast too. It has a clean simple interface that wont win any awards for design, but it is functional and free of clutter from menus and buttons and icons and add-ons. It has been made to allow for easy install and use, and as far as I can see it does that very well.
But where, for me, it changes the game somewhat, is the ability to “desktopise” an app and install a desktop icon for it. Now I know you have been able to do that in Mozilla stuff for a while, but that mechanism is clunky, and doesnt always work properly (for me). Google Chrome allows you to do this in a second or so. Very easy. Google Gears steps in and does all of the work for you.
Now, imagine you were a company with a vast cloud computing infrastructure and you had been trying for a few years to increase your presence on ordinary user’s desktops. You want users to use your cloud based applications that you have been developing, but you want to make it easy for them to do so, whilst at the same time have a mechanism for delivering more desktop-like applications to them. How to do it? You dont have an operating system, but you can have access to the layer above that, the application layer. But that is chock full of Microsoft applications. So what you need is something that can sit in that application layer, like a browser, and still give you the ability to deliver your cloud based apps. Viola! Chrome does this smoothly and with a minimum of fuss and confusing menus. Google Gears takes care of any desktop side, and can even do caching of information for when the user is offline. And a mobile version of this will mean that it can be cross platform and cross device.
And that is where Chrome is going to be a game changer. It is the foothold on the beach. The first touchdown of a wave of assault on Microsoft and it’s stranglehold of the desktop. I actually like the majority of Microsoft apps, for the record, but Google wants in and this is their doorway. And the nice thing about doing it this way is that Microsoft cannot do a thing about it. In my opinion this is an important development in how we use PC’s and applications