Chrome Browser Celebrates Fourth Birthday

Google’s Chrome Web browser is now officially four years old, after its launch way back in September 2008.

During the past four years it has accomplished a lot, including surpassing Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as the world’s most used browser for the first time in June. It has also added lots of useful features and strengths over the years to encourage even more users to adopt it.

Happy Birthday

In a 4 September post on the Google Chrome Blog, Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Google’s Chrome and Apps division, lauded the young browser on its fourth birthday and detailed some of the key reasons that inspired its creation.

“When we launched Chrome four years ago, most people accessed the Web through a personal computer,” wrote Pichai. “Our goal was to help build a better Web – a Web that is faster, simpler and more secure.”

Now people are accessing the Internet in far more ways using a wide variety of mobile devices that might not have been considered when Chrome was launched, he wrote.

“Fast forward to today, and many people have more than one device – a smartphone, a tablet, a computer at work, a computer at home. The beauty of the Web is that it’s the one platform that can deliver a consistent experience on any device with a browser. We’ve been working to build a more seamless Chrome experience that lets you to take your Chrome stuff with you on all your devices.”

By creating Chrome and its ability to be used on many different devices, Google developed a way that users could take their bookmarks, favourites and other preferences with them whenever they use Chrome on those devices – by logging into their Chrome accounts and using their resources as they desire, wrote Pichai.

“Chrome now enables you to access your Web, everywhere,” he wrote. “Whether you’re on a Windows, Mac, or Linux computer, a Chromebook, or an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet, you can have the same consistent experience no matter where you go, just by signing in to Chrome.”

Future Upgrades

More such features will continue to be added, he predicted. “As you use Chrome on more devices, we remain focused on providing you with the most secure web experience possible. Building on four years of security work, recent improvements such as more robust plug-in sandboxing and Safe Browsing for downloads ensure that your browsing is more secure than ever before.”

To celebrate Chrome’s birthday, Google created a Chrome Time Machine “comic book” that describes key moments in Chrome’s history over the past four years, according to Pichai. “You may even uncover a special birthday gift from the Chrome team, if you find the hidden clue and type in the secret code …”

The latest version of Google Chrome is Version 21, which was released 31 July. A key feature of the new release includes dramatically improved Adobe Flash performance due to porting Flash to the browser’s new sandboxed PPAPI platform. That means improved security, stability and performance for Microsoft Windows Chrome users.

Browser Wars

In June, when Chrome unseated Internet Explorer for Web supremacy for the first time, it was a watershed moment for the young browser. StatCounter data from more than 15 billion page views (4 billion from the United States; 850 million from the United Kingdom) for the full month of May shows Chrome took 32.43 percent of the worldwide market, compared with 32.12 percent for IE and 25.55 percent for Firefox.

Microsoft still holds a comfortable lead in the United States with the IE browser, capturing 38.35 percent of the market in May, while Chrome trailed with 23.66 percent. Firefox followed close behind in third place with 22.41 percent market share, while other browsers (1.41 percent) and Opera (0.67 percent) rounded out the top five.

Chrome’s achievement is even more impressive when considering the fact the browser didn’t even exist four years ago. However, Microsoft’s latest edition of IE and Firefox’s continued popularity indicate the browser battles will likely continue – and escalate.

As the number of mobile Web users steadily increases, the major browsers are fine-tuning mobile versions in order to capture the growing market. In February, Google introduced Chrome for Android-running devices, which has likely been aiding in Chrome’s rise. According to a 16 May report from Gartner, devices running Google’s Android OS accounted for more than 56 percent of the smartphones that shipped during the first quarter.

How well do you know your web browsers? Find out with our quiz!

Todd R. Weiss

Freelance Technology Reporter for TechWeekEurope and eWeek

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