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Give your browser a shine

The fastest Web browser on the market, Google Chrome is a valiant and speedy attempt to redefine how we Web surf.

Chrome is Google's attempt to make the Web browser disappear and to focus on the applications and pages users are viewing, rather than on the border with its tools. Some of Chrome's basic underpinnings are quite novel, but people will recognize other features as they exist in other, open-source Web browsers on the market today.

Chrome is blazingly fast and is easily the quickest browser available. Based on Webkit, the same open-source engine that powers Apple Safari, Google's Android mobile platform, and several other Web-browsing tools, Chrome's interface is a drastic departure from other browsers. Instead of the traditional toolbar, Chrome puts its tabs on top. Moreover, the tabs are detachable: "tabs" and "windows" are interchangeable here. Detached tabs can be dragged and dropped into the browser, and tabs can be rearranged at any time. By isolating each tab's processes, when one site crashes, the other tabs do not.

The search box and the address bar have been fused into a hybrid "Omnibox," which includes suggestions for URLs culled from your browser's history and search suggestions from your search engine. It also remembers site-specific search engine results. There's also Application Shortcuts, a feature that lets you create desktop icons for Web-only applications, such as Gmail or Calendar. The stealth mode, Incognito, lets you surf without the history recording cookies. With version 3, themes have been introduced to Chrome and users can reskin the browser with more than 30 choices--not quite the depth of Firefox, but they don't seem to negatively affect performance. A developer's version of Chrome supports extensions, which haven't made it into this stable release yet. If you're addicted to Web apps and a need for speed, though, Chrome just might be the shine your browsing experience has been looking for.

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