Google Chrome Turns 10

Google Chrome Comic

I remem­ber when Googles Chrome Brows­er was announced, after an online com­ic appeared.
At the time, Chrome was a Win­dows only Webkit brows­er, the big inno­va­tion being hav­ing each brows­er tab run in its own CPU process, so that if one crash­es, it does­n’t take down the entire brows­er. Its a mod­el that has since been copied by oth­er web browsers, and in part respon­si­ble for fans going at full tilt on lap­tops everywhere.

The 1st Sep­tem­ber marked 10 years since Chromes first released, where it has gone on to be the most pop­u­lar and dom­i­nant web brows­er around. Its actu­al­ly quite sur­pris­ing giv­en how entrenched Inter­net Explor­er was, that peo­ple would active­ly down­load it, though it was also the only web brows­er I seem to remem­ber hav­ing a mass ad cam­paign, even posters on the tube at one point.

I remem­ber down­load­ing a ver­sion through an emu­la­tor / run­time (Crossover Chrome) which allowed it to run on Macs before the offi­cial release. Lat­er there where the Chromi­um builds, which are the offi­cial releas­es of the open source part of the brows­er, but with­out many, though not all, the Google extras.

By push­ing a near stan­dards com­pli­ant brows­er, Google helped push up stan­dard imple­men­ta­tion in many oth­er browsers. Googles moti­va­tion at the time was that as a web based com­pa­ny, they want­ed the best envi­ron­ment for their ser­vices, which meant push­ing their own brows­er. This meant that more mod­ern web tech­nolo­gies, such as offline javascript appli­ca­tions, became more avail­able and build­ing mod­ern web appli­ca­tion more achievable.

There are con­cerns though that with Chrome almost corn­ing the mar­ket, that Chrome may be becom­ing the new IE6. That there is an increase in web appli­ca­tions that are designed Chrome first, even Chrome only, or even a gen­er­al assump­tion that if it works in Chrome then its ok. This under­mines the spir­it of the web some­what, in that no mat­ter what brows­er or device a per­son is using they should still be able to browse and read your site. Instead, in some cas­es its like­ly to see a nag­ging ban­ner to change brows­er, and in some cas­es a door slam say­ing only works in Chrome. Per­haps we will go back to the late nineties with site badges that say works in IE or Netscape again.

Chrome (well Chromi­um in my case) is still the brows­er I do my own devel­op­ment in, giv­en that I am used to the dev tools that are built in are actu­al­ly very use­ful, although they orig­i­nat­ed in Apple Safari, a brows­er I do my main brows­ing with both on mobile and laptop.

Of late, Google have been more con­cen­trat­ing on Android as there plat­form, with talk at one point of the Chrome­books becom­ing Android devices. I kind of get this, with mobile becom­ing the more impor­tant plat­form, there is a desire to con­trol the full stack. That desire can be the dan­ger, and allow­ing too much con­trol in one com­pa­ny may not do well for the vital­i­ty of the web as a sus­tain­able plat­form, where new ideas and imple­men­ta­tions have been a dri­ving force.

The web is how­ev­er bet­ter with Chrome. It has giv­en a lot more peo­ple a much more bet­ter and sta­ble brows­er to use, and web devel­op­ers a bet­ter set of web tech­nolo­gies to tar­get and make use of, even mak­ing oth­er browsers up their game. The web and tech in gen­er­al has changed a lot in the last 10 years, heres to the next 10 years.

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