Editor's Desk | Beneath the Chrome
Google's surprise entrance into the Web browser market came as a shot across Microsoft's bow
IT WAS HARD TO IGNORE the shockwaves surrounding Google's recent introduction of its new Web browser, named Chrome, just days after Microsoft's release of a beta version of Internet Explorer 8.
Microsoft has endured a slow but steady erosion of its overwhelming dominance in how the world accesses and uses the Internet. So the enhancements in its newest release were seen by some as a sign of renewed vigor for a browser that was showing its age. It was also seen as an acknowledgment that Web-savvy features on Mozilla Foundation's Firefox and Apple's Safari browsers were gaining favor.
Google's surprise entrance into the Web browser market with an alternative that makes it easier and safer for users to run Web-based software applications came as a shot across Microsoft's bow. And it comes as a shot in the arm for Web application developers, as GCN reports this issue.
Chrome represents a new platform, engineered to handle many of the tasks of traditional operating systems, but designed to deal with increasingly complex applications emerging on the Web.
The answer was to process multiple instruction threads ' rather than the single, sequential threads common to most Web applications ' in much the way traditional operating systems work.
However, that meant giving each thread its own memory space and a copy of the global data structure. Traditional browsers weren't designed to juggle so many memory assignments, forcing the operating system to step in.
The result was an ugly ballet of memory handoffs, increasingly sluggish performance and application failures.