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By Mitch Wagner
In the year since Google (NSDQ: GOOG)'s Chrome browser first shipped, it is still a technology triumph. But early hopes that it would be a Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT)-killer, challenging not just Internet Explorer, but the Windows operating system itself, now seem remote.
The technology looks as fresh now as it did on September 2, 2008 when it emerged into public beta. It's a lean, fast, secure, and stable open source Web browser, designed for the new generation of Web 2.0 apps, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Google's own Gmail and Docs. Other browsers, according to Google, are designed for the old way of using the Web, where you go to a site and look at some static pages. Increasingly, however, Web sites are full-fledged applications, and demand a different kind of Web browser.
Chrome is built differently than other browsers. Each tab is a separate process. If one tab crashes or grinds to a halt, it doesn't take down the whole browser. If you're writing a long, complicated document in Google Docs, or doing your tax returns online, you don't want to lose all your work just because the browser crashed while you were taking a break and uploading cat videos to Facebook. "It's really painful when one of those tabs crashes and takes the whole thing down," said Ian Fette, product manager for Google Chrome, in a phone interview.