What is Google Chrome?
Google Chrome is a freeware Web browser developed by Google, Inc. Since its release in 2008, Chrome has become one of the more popular Web tools.
(Google Chrome is also the name of the operating system that runs on Google Chromebooks.)
Google's website describes Google Chrome as "a browser that combines a minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the web faster, safer and easier." Utilizing the WebKit open source rendering engine, Chrome loads Web pages quickly. Security measures include warning messages about websites suspected of containing phishing or malware and the ability to block cookies on particular sites (through privacy settings). Chrome's simple design includes one box, called the Omnibox, that acts as both an address bar and search window. Google also has an extensive store with apps, themes and free plugins. [Related: Google Chrome Review on TopTenReviews]
History of Google Chrome
Google Chrome got its start on Sept. 2, 2008, when the company released a beta version of the browser for Microsoft Windows. At the same time, the company also released a large portion of its source code, as part of a project called Chromium. After a successful test period, Google released the browser to the general public three months later, in December 2008.
But the building of the browser was anything but easy. Several years before its development, the company's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, was looking to keep Google small, and not create any "bruising browser wars." However, the co-founders of the company, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, turned to a team of Mozilla Firefox developers to put together a first build of Chrome, which convinced Schmidt otherwise.
In 2009, Google announced versions for the OS X and Linux operating systems. A beta kicked off in June, but several users stated that prominent features were missing from the browser. The company improved upon the model with a new version in May 2010, a stable release that held up just as well as the freeware version that previously came out.
Google made several changes to the browser over the years through updates, removing the usage of Gears for Chrome (relating to the creation of certain Web applications) in favor of HTML5. The video player, which originally worked with H.264 video codec, was also phased into HTML5. However, the H.264 technology would make a return in November 2012, when Chrome on Windows featured it once again for video decoding.
Google Chrome became a default browser for various systems. When Microsoft Windows launched in 2010, Google Chrome was part of the program. It was also the default browser used with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) devices with Jelly Bean installed. [Related: 5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Google Chrome]
Version 25 was released in February 2013. This update fixed nine critical security flaws and 12 other bugs. The update was made in anticipation of an annual browser-hacking contest. Pwn2Own pits hackers against the defenses of Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Apple's Safari. Two researchers from MWR Labs, a security firm, managed to bypass Chrome 25's security three days after the update, earning them a $100,000 prize.
The browser continues to gain in popularity. A StatCounter report from November 2012 indicates that 35 percent of worldwide usage share comes from Google Chrome. However, another tracking service, Net Applications, states that it's still in third place behind Windows Explorer and Firefox.
Download Google Chrome
Google Chrome can be downloaded at Google's website. The site will detect which version is right for your system and load the appropriate page. Click the "Download Chrome" button and follow the instructions as you are walked through the installation.