Google's Chrome browser ' a work in progress

If you download Chrome, don't look for a richer user experience immediately.

Indeed, the primary thing that stands out about Chrome is its lean ' some might say sparse ' user interface. There's a tab bar, an address bar and a couple of icons that provide access to other tools, bookmarks and configuration utilities ' that's about it.

However, there are a few nice interface touches that other browser designers might want to consider. For starters, Chrome makes it easy to reorder open tabs by dragging and dropping. And if you want to open a tab in a fresh browser, so you can have multiple sites open at once, you simply drag the tab outside the browser.

Another nice feature, implemented in a similar fashion in Internet Explorer 8, is a sophisticated autocomplete feature for the URL address bar. As you enter text, the program opens a window that offers suggestions drawn from user history, bookmarks or search results.

Bookmarks are accessed through a bookmarks bar, which can also be hidden. It is easy to import bookmarks from other browsers, but Chrome doesn't offer much by way of bookmark management tools. Among other things, we were not able to find a way to export bookmarks.

Other features we weren't able to find include a print preview feature and a quick link to e-mail a page to another user. Even more surprising, there is no support for RSS feeds.

As a browser plain and simple, Chrome doesn't stack up very well against the competition. And the thing that makes Chrome special ' its potential strength as an application platform ' has not yet arrived. At present, Chrome is clearly all about the future.

About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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