Today Google released a first Beta of Google Chrome, a new web browser. Just installing it already showed how Google Chrome is different from other browsers. Since I am always logged on on my laptop as a normal user I right-clicked the installer and choose the “Run as” option and installed it under the Administrator accout. The result was surprising: it didn’t work. No error messages during installation, but I couldn’t get any website to open. After some searching I figured out that Google Chrome installed itself in “%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Google\” so you have to install it as the user that is going to use it. So after installing it as myself I could see pages and the fun starts.
One of the touted differences between Chrome and current browsers is that Chrome runs each tab in a separate process and processes are independent and one process will not affect another, even when it crashes. (Reputably the current IE 8 beta has the same feature, but I haven’t tried that yet.) So when you look in the Windows Task Manager you see separate processes for all tabs. With Chrome’s own Task Manager you can see a little bit deeper since you can see which process is which tab, but the real good stuff is in the “Stats for Nerds” which shows detailed information. I have included screenshots of all three below here.
The most remarkable thing other then that is how unremarkable Chrome is. It is very unobtrusive with very little chrome and lots of room for content, it feels extremely responsive and it just works. It didn’t ask if I wanted to install the Flash Player, it just worked. I don’t even know if it is embedded or if Chrome borrows the Firefox plugin or something. But since it runs in its own process the memory consumption becomes visible. So I guess pretty soon people will start to look a whole lot closer at the memory consumption of Flex applications.
All in all the first impression is very good. After the installation hurdle it just works and I really like the security / process / memory model (it feels like Unix and specifically like the model of PostgreSQL). And I mean really like it. Now I know I am a bit peculiar in my security habbits / preferences (how many others will have run into the installation issues I did?), but I really take such issues into consideration when I choose tools. And so far Google Chrome is scoring big points.