At a Glance
- Sandboxed to help prevent malware infections
- Can close slow or frozen pages without restarting
- Plain design
- No integrated RSS reader
Using Google’s minimalist Web browser is a unique experience.
Google has updated its Chrome Web browser to 8.0.552.215. It
brings a number of changes and–perhaps more important–paves the
way for some big things ahead.
So what’s new in Google Chrome 8? Quite a bit, actually–though
many of the changes are under the hood. Google Chrome 8 introduces
more than 800 bug fixes and stability improvements. Those tweaks
and other security patches make up the bulk of the progress.
One new feature that’s immediately noticeable is the addition of
a built-in PDF viewer, something that had been floating around in
developer builds for several months. According to Chromium
Engineering Director Marc Pawliger, the built-in PDF viewer lets
the browser “render [PDF files] as seamlessly as HTML Web pages,”
without the need for a standalone Adobe Reader installation. All
PDFs are also contained in what’s called a sandbox, which basically
means they’re isolated and won’t affect the security or performance
of any other parts of the system.
The most significant changes in Chrome 8 may be ones that most
of us can’t see. Developers say Chrome 8 is the first version of the browser to
boast full support for Google’s upcoming Chrome Web Store, which is widely expected to
launch any day now. The Chrome Web Store will offer an array of
Web-based applications–both free and paid–that’ll be designed
specifically to work with the Chrome browser and the
still-under-development Chrome OS.
Chrome OS, as you may recall from Google’s preview of the software last summer, will
offer a bare-bones, browser-like interface that’ll rely
almost entirely on cloud-based applications. And, despite its
similar categorization, it’ll be wildly different from Google’s
other operating system, Android–both in terms of how it works and
what types of devices it’ll target. (For a detailed comparison,
check out “Chrome OS vs. Android: What’s the difference?“)
As far as the basic Chrome browser, Google’s next project is
applying its sandbox technology to Adobe’s Flash Player. Like with
the PDF scenario, it’ll allow Flash-based content to stay isolated
in its own area, making the overall browsing experience safer and
Google’s clearly keeping busy with Chrome these days, and all of
the efforts may be paying off: According to recently released data, November marked
Chrome’s biggest month to date when it comes to browser market
share. The data, compiled by metrics firm Net Applications, shows
Chrome growing a full 5.6 percent in global market share for the
month of November, bringing its total up to 9.3 percent. That’s the
second-highest single month gain Net Applications has ever measured
for any browser.
If you’re already using Chrome, the program should automatically
find and install the upgrade soon. If you don’t want to wait, just
click the Download button to go to Google’s Download page. There,
you can click the tool icon at the top right corner of the program
and select “About Google Chrome.” That’ll force your browser to
check for updates and begin the upgrade process.
Note: This link takes you to the vendor’s site,
where you can download the latest version of the software.