Google Previews Chrome 2.0

Less than a month after announcing that version 1.0 of its Chrome Web browser is no longer a beta, Google has released an alpha version of Chrome 2.0. Available through Google's Chrome Developer Channel, the updated browser brings many notable improvements over Chrome 1.0.

The alpha version of Chrome 2.0 shows that Google continues to play catch-up with its elder siblings, Internet Explorer and Firefox. Updates to the Chrome browser include the addition of form autocomplete (one of the features most obviously missing from the initial release), full-page zoom, spell checking improvements, and auto-scrolling--among other features.

One of the most interesting new features in the pre-beta 2.0 of Chrome is called Profiles. This lets users separate Chrome's settings, including bookmarks, history and cookies, in different categories for different types of use. For example, you can have personal and work profiles, both with different home pages, bookmarks and history, together with separate desktop shortcuts.

Using different profiles, Google Chrome can personalize each browsing module with its home page, bookmarks and history.

The 2.0 Chrome pre-beta also uses a new version of the WebKit rendering engine, basically the same as the one in Apple's Safari 3.1, which enables some CSS coding features such as gradients, canvas drawing, reflections, and masks. Also, Google implemented experimental support for Greasemonkey scripts.

For those with security in mind, along the SafeBrowsing implementation, Chrome 2.0 introduces a new HTTPS-only browsing mode that will only load HTTPS sites. The downside of this feature is that sites with SSL certificate errors will not load.

Other new features include:

- Importing bookmarks from Google Bookmarks;

- Docking dragged tabs (drag a tab to certain positions on the monitor and a docking icon will appear);

- Update of the V8 Javascript engine (to version 0.4.6.0 from 0.3.9.3);

- New network code (Google Chrome now has its own implementation of the HTTP network protocol);

- New window frames on Windows XP and Vista (supporting windows cascading and tiling).

By selecting the Dev channel, you can get the latest alpha version of Chrome.

To get the new version of Chrome, you'll need an earlier version of the browser installed on your computer. You'll also need to subscribe to the Developer Preview Channel (it's free); the new version will then download automatically.

If no update shows up initially, go to the About Google Chrome dialog and force the update process.

Chrome 2.0 is an alpha release, and it shows: It can crash quite a bit. So if you're not happy with it, you can downgrade to the most recent stable version by reinstalling an earlier version of Chrome.

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