What Is Google Chrome?

By Andy Joseph

Google Chrome almost didn’t happen. Noticing fierce competition in the web browser segment, Google CEO Eric Schmidt was skeptical about his company jumping into the fray. However, when he finally relented, Chrome eventually rose to become one of the dominant browsers in the market. Google Chrome is compatible with Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS and Android operating systems. Available as a freeware web browser, Chrome is available for download for personal computers and mobile devices at the Google website.

Background

Google Chrome arrived a few years after the competition for dominance between Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Netscape’s Navigator during the late 1990s. For years after Google was founded in 1998, Schmidt resisted the idea of building the Chrome browser. It took the persistent enthusiasm of Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page — plus a demonstration from some developers — for Schmidt to give the go-ahead. Chrome’s initial release, as a beta version, was on September 2, 2008.

Key Characteristics

From the beginning, Google Chrome established its reputation for its clean, minimalist interface. Chrome popularized the use of tabs, which comprise the main component of its interface and enable users to easily drag multiple windows to the left or to the right. Chrome was also notable for its quickness — when launching, loading webpages, or running sophisticated web applications. At the top of the browser page is the Omnibox, a lean URL address bar that also serves as a search box. Over the years, other web browser developers followed Chrome's lead and adopted many of Chrome’s aforementioned attributes and innovations.

Chrome for Work

Also available is Chrome for Work, which enables users to deploy the browser for the computer network of their businesses. Additionally, employers can configure which applications and extensions are available to employees, customize company-wide policies with the browser’s cloud-based management, and use Legacy Browser Support for running older applications. Chrome for Work is only compatible with Windows-based computers.

Chrome Web Store

Released on December 6, 2010, Chrome Web Store mainly functions as Google’s online store for web applications designed for use on Chrome. Some of the apps are Google’s very own products. They include Gmail for email service, Google Drive for storing files, and Google Docs for word processing and creating spreadsheets and presentations. Recently released, Google's Journal (by Journey) has been received well. It's an elegant journaling application, characterized by Chrome's minimalist theme. Chrome is also notable for being the only browser to accommodate Google Voice Search, which allows users to use Google Search by speaking on a computer or mobile phone.

Competition

At the time of Google Chrome’s release, Internet Explorer was the pre-eminent web browser around. Other competitors at the time included Mozilla Firefox and Apple’s Safari, which debuted in 2002 and 2003, respectively. Since then, competition has intensified due to continuous refinements from developers. However, perhaps due to its trendsetting contributions, Google Chrome has emerged with the largest share of the browser market, with Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox rounding up the top three.