Google has attracted few converts with its Web browser but it's thinking long term.
To judge from the thousands of articles that followed Google's release of its Web browser, Chrome, one thing was clear: A browser war is on. But now that a month has passed, average users could be excused for wondering what all this buzz was about, and whether switching to a new browser is actually worth the effort.
So what does Chrome actually mean for the everyday Web surfer? Right now, not much – but a few years out, Google's browser could mean a whole lot more.
The reason: Chrome was built to be the browser of the future, or, more specifically, the browser for a Google future. The search-engine giant expects a global shift toward Web-based applications – services that are nearly identical to Microsoft Word and Excel, but that tap into the concept of "cloud computing," where programs operate exclusively on the Internet.
"The process of moving to Web-based applications is well under way already," says Rafe Needleman, editor of CNET's webware.com. "The number of people relying on Web-based e-mail, for example, is really high. This all just sort of happened."
Tech websites disagree on how much faster, but the consensus holds that Chrome speeds past rival browsers such as Firefox and Internet Explorer (IE) – especially when it comes to Google's own websites, such as Gmail and Google Docs. Of course, even major improvements in efficiency are often measured in seconds or milliseconds – far too small to make a huge difference in people's lives.