Google upgraded its browser to version 10 a couple of weeks ago.
The latest NetMarketShare browser statistics shows Google's Chrome browser has gained 0.23 per cent over the period January to February this year. Microsoft Internet Explorer gained three quarters of a per cent, giving a global market share of 56.77 per cent over the same period. The biggest loser is Firefox, dropping one per cent to 21.74 per cent.
Chrome’s feature set is the fastest expanding of the top five browsers. An update arrives on the Chrome browser platform every six weeks.
Install was simply a matter of firing up Chrome 9 and letting the browser update itself automatically, which is a two to three-minute process.
We reviewed the Windows version of Chrome 10 (v10.0.648.133) on our Labs Dell Optiplex 980 and Labs Dell Optiplex GX280.
Chrome 10 new features
A recent blog post from the Chrome team outlines where the developers have targeted most of their energies.
New settings pages
One of the first things users will notice if they decide to change standard settings is that these now open in a tab, rather than the dialog box used before [see picture].
We also checked browser performance on our Labs Mac Mini running Mac OS X 10.6.6. We installed three extra browsers besides Apple's built-in Safari, and ran the WebKit.org SunSpider 0.9.1 browser benchmark.
Google Chrome performed the best on the Mac Mini, followed by Opera, Safari, then Firefox [see picture – smaller bars mean better performance]. Chrome 10 was about eight per cent faster than Opera and Safari.
We checked web standards compliance using the Web Standards Project's Acid3 test. Google Chrome 10 registered 100 per cent, as did Opera 11.01 and Safari 5.0.4. IE9 Release Candidate was 95 per cent.
Background web apps
One of the most useful features of Chrome 10 is that it allows users to run web applications in the background. The apps will be running, but you won’t need to keep a web site tab open to check whether or not they have completed.
When it is running in the background, the web app can notify you of an event, such as if a calculation needs more data or input. In this case, Chrome would re-open a browser window and tell you what needs to be done.
The web app may use extra memory depending on whether it is using back-end server resources or your local system resources for calculations.
Some security issues have been tightened up in Chrome 10. First, malware reporting has been improved and second, out-dated plug-ins are disabled by default.
The other big improvement is that when using Chrome 10 on Windows operating systems, Adobe Flash is "sandboxed". This prevents Flash being able to access key system functions.
If you are browsing a web site and that site has downloaded malware which is actively running, the sandbox stops that malware from affecting other web site tabs you are running. It also prevents the malware being able to access sensitive system functions able to reduce security on your system.
In addition to being able to synchronise bookmarks, preference options and themes across all their desktop systems, you can now save passwords for frequently accessed web sites when logged into a Google account.
The passwords are synchronised by default on other systems when you are logged into a Google account [see picture].
Those passwords can also be passphrase encrypted for tighter security [see picture].
Chrome users have complained that Google forces a browser update, for example if a new version appears.
Google’s end user licence agreement – specifically paragraphs 4.2 and 11.1 – says that you are signing up for Chrome to add features and update Chrome automatically. It states:
“4.2 … You acknowledge and agree that the form and nature of the Services that Google provides may change from time to time, without prior notice to you."
“11.1 The Software that you use may download and install updates automatically, from time to time, from Google … You agree to receive such updates (and permit Google to deliver these to you) as part of your use of the Services.”
Google does provide a system for enterprises to stop Chrome updating automatically.
We think users should be able to stop this updating process, as with Microsoft's Internet Explorer. A version which contains a critical security bug could compromise users' systems.
The big addition is the background web apps feature, and as public cloud infrastructures mature, this feature will be a definite winner in the future.
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