FAQ: The Vitals on Google's New Browser, Chrome

Is it a Chrome-tastic browser, or just another app? Here's a look at the key questions and answers for those interested in giving Chrome a spin.

By Gregg Keizer
Wed, September 03, 2008

ComputerworldGoogle Inc. ended one of the Web's longest-running rumors today when it released Chrome, a Web browser it's been working on for the last two years.

But while Tuesday's news was all over the Web, the debut is only part of the story.

How, for instance, will Google's push into building a browser affect Windows, Microsoft's golden goose? Will other browser makers just roll over and play dead? Hint: don't count on it.

Those questions, like the ones that follow, simply scratch the surface. We're certain to revisit Chrome and Google's plans for it, in future FAQs. But this one will get us going.

Where do I get Chrome? You can download the beta from Google's Chrome page, which will only offer the download if rendered on a Windows XP or Vista machine, or in a virtual machine on a Mac or Linux running XP or Vista.

Chrome, a 7MB download, is currently available only for XP and Vista.

What languages? Out the gate, Chrome is available in 39 languages, including English, Chinese, German, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and a slew of others.

But nothing for the Mac? What's up with that? All we know at this point is what Google's disclosed, which isn't much. "We're hard at work building versions for Mac and Linux," the company's heads of engineering and product management said Monday when they confirmed that Google would be shipping Chrome today.

However, Google is collecting e-mail addresses from Mac users who want to be notified when a Mac OS X-specific version is available, hinting that a Mac edition is closer to shipping than one for Linux.

Chrome will run on a Mac using Apple's dual-boot Boot Camp utility, or in a virtual machine created with the likes of Parallel Inc.'s Parallels Desktop for Mac or VMware Inc.'s Fusion.

How about Chrome for Linux? You're even more out of luck than people running Steve Jobs' operating system. The e-mail notification for Mac users -- but not for those running Linux -- is more than a hint. Chrome's developer notes spell out the bad news: "There is no [emphasis in original] working Chromium-based browser on Linux," says the build documentation, in red type within a bordered box, no less.

That must mean they're serious about "no" meaning, well, "no."

Should I bother? Computerworld's Barbara Krasnoff came away with mixed feelings, but in the end recommended that people try Chrome. "At the very least, it will offer a new take on the browsing experience."

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