|Green||Current stable release|
|Blue||Current beta release|
|Purple||Current dev release|
|Major version||Release date||WebKit version||V8 engine version||Operating system support||Significant changes|
|0.3.154||2008-10-29||Improved plugin performance and reliability. Spell checking for input fields. Improved web proxy performance and reliability. Tab and window management updates.|
|0.4.154||2008-11-24||525||Bookmark manager with import and export support. Privacy section added to the application options. New blocked popup notification. Security fixes.|
|1.0.154||2008-12-11||528||First stable release.|
|4.0.249||2010-01-25||532.5||1.3||Extensions. Bookmark synchronization. Enhanced developer tools. Improved HTML5 support. Performance improvements. Full ACID3 pass. HTTP byte range support. Increased security. Experimental new anti-reflected-XSS feature called "XSS Auditor".|
|4.1.249||2010-03-17||Translate infobar. New privacy features. Disabled XSS Auditor.|
|6.0.472||2010-09-02||534.3||2.2||Updated and more streamlined UI with simplified Omnibox. New tab page. Merged menu buttons. Form Autofill. Expanded synchronization support to include extensions and Autofill data. Support for WebM videos. Improvements for performance and stability. Built-in PDF support (disabled by default).|
|7.0.517||2010-10-21||534.7||220.127.116.11||Primarily a stabilizing release with hundreds of bug fixes. Implemented HTML5 parsing algorithm. File API. Directory upload via input tag. Mac OS X version gained AppleScript support for UI automation. Late binding enabled for SSL sockets: High priority SSL requests are now always sent to the server first. New options for managing cookies. Updated New Tab Page to enable featuring of web applications.|
|8.0.552||2010-12-02||534.10||18.104.22.168||Chrome Web Store. Built-in PDF viewer that works inside Chrome's sandbox for increased security. Expanded synchronization support to include web applications. Improved plug-in handling. This release added "about:flags" to showcase experimental features such as Chrome Instant, side tabs on Windows, Tabbed Settings, Click to Play, background web applications, Remoting, Disable outdated plug-ins, XSS Auditor, Cloud Print Proxy, GPU Accelerated Compositing, WebGL support for the Canvas element, and a "Tab Overview" mode (like Exposé) for Mac OS.|
|9.0.597||2011-02-03||534.13||22.214.171.124||WebGL enabled by default. Adobe Flash sandboxing on Windows and Chrome Instant (à la Google Instant) option. WebP support. New flags: Print Preview, GPU Accelerated Compositing, GPU Accelerated Canvas 2D, Google Native Client, CRX-less Web Apps, Web Page Prerendering, Experimental Extension APIs, Disable hyperlink auditing.|
|11.0.696||2011-04-27||534.24||126.96.36.199||HTML5 Speech Input API. Updated icon.|
|12.0.742||2011-06-07||534.30||188.8.131.52||Hardware accelerated 3D CSS. New Safe Browsing protection against downloading malicious files. Ability to delete Flash cookies from inside Chrome. Launch Apps by name from the Omnibox. Integrated Sync into new settings pages. Improved screen reader support. New warning when hitting Command-Q on Mac. New flags: P2P API. Existing tab on foreground on open. Experimental new tab page. Add grouping to tab context menu. Run PPAPI Flash in the renderer process. Multiple Profiles. Removed Google Gears. Print and Save buttons in the PDF viewer.|
|13.0.782||2011-08-09||535.1||184.108.40.206||Instant Pages (pre-rendering of webpages). Native print interface and preview (Linux and Windows only). New chrome://flags experiments: Experimental new tab page, Restrict Instant To Search.|
|14.0.835||2011-08-31||535.1||220.127.116.11||Native Client (NaCl) enabled for apps in the Chrome Web Store. Web Audio API. Additional Mac OS X Lion feature support. Sync Encryption for all data. Print Preview on Mac. Experimental Web Request extension API. Experimental Content Settings extension API. HTTPS over DNSSEC.|
|15.0.865||2011-08-29||535.2||3.5.8||Faster print preview. Removed chrome://flags experiments: Experimental new tab page. Experimental new tab page on by default. Switched to FFmpeg native VP8 decoder.|
Note: Old development builds are not shown here after they go through beta and become stable releases.
The results of the Acid3 test on Google Chrome 4.0The first release of Google Chrome passed both the Acid1 and Acid2 tests. Beginning with version 4.0, Chrome passed all aspects of the Acid3 test.
On Ecma International's ECMAScript standards conformance Test 262 (version 0.7.5.3), Chrome version 13.0.782.215 scores 483/10927. The beta version, 14.0.835.109, scored 420/10927. The dev version, 15.0.861.0, scores 411/10927. Lower scores are better, as the figure represents the number of failed tests out of the total number of tests.
Chrome periodically retrieves updates of two blacklists (one for phishing and one for malware), and warns users when they attempt to visit a harmful site. This service is also made available for use by others via a free public API called "Google Safe Browsing API". Google notifies the owners of listed sites who may not be aware of the presence of the harmful software.
Chrome will typically allocate each tab to fit into its own process to "prevent malware from installing itself" and prevent what happens in one tab from affecting what happens in another; however, the actual process-allocation model is more complex. Following the principle of least privilege, each process is stripped of its rights and can compute, but cannot write files or read from sensitive areas (e.g. documents, desktop)—this is similar to the "Protected Mode" used by Internet Explorer on Windows Vista and Windows 7. The Sandbox Team is said to have "taken this existing process boundary and made it into a jail"; for example, malicious software running in one tab is supposed to be unable to sniff credit card numbers entered in another tab, interact with mouse inputs, or tell Windows to "run an executable on start-up" and it will be terminated when the tab is closed. This enforces a simple computer security model whereby there are two levels of multilevel security (user and sandbox) and the sandbox can only respond to communication requests initiated by the user. On Linux sandboxing uses the seccomp mode.
Typically, plugins such as Adobe Flash Player are not standardized and as such, cannot be sandboxed as tabs can be. These often must run at, or above, the security level of the browser itself. To reduce exposure to attack, plugins are run in separate processes that communicate with the renderer, itself operating at "very low privileges" in dedicated per-tab processes. Plugins will need to be modified to operate within this software architecture while following the principle of least privilege. Chrome supports the Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI), but does not support the embedding of ActiveX controls. On March 30, 2010 Google announced that the latest development version of Chrome would include Adobe Flash as part of the browser, eliminating the need to download and install it separately. Flash would be kept up to date as part of Chrome's own updates. Java applet support is available in Chrome with Java 6 update 12 and above. Support for Java under Mac OS X was provided by a Java Update released on May 18, 2010.
A private browsing feature called Incognito mode is provided that prevents the browser from storing any history information or cookies from the websites visited. Incognito mode is similar to the private browsing feature in Internet Explorer 8 (and up), Mozilla Firefox 3.5 (and up), Opera 10.5 (and up) and Safari.
See also: Comparison of web browsers#VulnerabilitiesOn January 12, 2011 versions of Chrome prior to version 8.0.552.237 were identified by US-CERT as "contain[ing] multiple memory corruption vulnerabilities...By convincing a user to view a specially crafted HTML document, PDF file, or video file, an attacker can cause the application to crash or possibly execute arbitrary code." The vulnerability was subsequently patched and a new stable version was released to the public with Chrome's auto-update mechanism.
Statistics show that users are four times more likely to be tricked into downloading malware than be compromised by an exploit. In a recent study, Chrome 10 blocked only 13% of malicious URLS, tied for third place with Safari and Firefox. In contrast, Internet Explorer 9 blocked 92% of malware with its URL-based filtering, and 100% with application-based filtering enabled. Internet Explorer 8, in second place, blocked 90% of malware. Exploits that install malware without the user being aware (also referred to as "clickjacking" and "drive-by downloads") were not included in this particular study.
Chrome utilizes the faster SPDY protocol designed to augment HTTP when communicating with Google services, such as Google Search, Gmail, Chrome sync and when serving Google's ads. Google acknowledges that the use of SPDY is enabled in the communication between Chrome and Google's SSL-enabled servers.
The Gears team implemented a multi-process architecture in Chrome where, by default, a separate process is allocated to each site instance and plugin, a procedure referred to as process isolation. This prevents tasks from interfering with each other, increasing security and stability. An attacker successfully gaining access to one application cannot gain access to others, and failure in one instance results in a Sad Tab screen of death, similar to the well-known Sad Mac, but only a single tab crashes instead of the whole application. This strategy exacts a fixed per-process cost up front, but results in less memory bloat overall as fragmentation is confined to each instance and no longer requires further memory allocations. Safari and Firefox are also adopting this architecture in upcoming versions, meaning that most common browsers will use a multi-process architecture in the near future.
Chrome includes a process management utility called Task Manager which allows the user to see what sites and plugins are using the most memory, downloading the most bytes and over-utilizing the CPU and provides the ability to terminate them.
By default, the main user interface includes back, forward, refresh/cancel and menu buttons. A home button is not shown by default, but can be added through the preferences menu to take the user to the new tab page or a custom home page.
Tabs are the primary component of Chrome's user interface and as such, have been moved to the top of the window rather than below the controls. This subtle change contrasts with many existing tabbed browsers which are based on windows and contain tabs. Tabs (including their state) can be transferred seamlessly between window containers by dragging. Each tab has its own set of controls, including the Omnibox.
The Omnibox is the URL box at the top of each tab, which combines the functionality of both the Address bar and search box. If a user enters the URL of a site previously searched from, Chrome allows pressing Tab to search the site again directly from the Omnibox. When a user starts typing in the Omnibox, Chrome provides suggestions for previously visited sites (based on the URL or in-page text), popular websites (not necessarily visited before – powered by Google Suggest), and popular searches. Although Google Suggest can be turned off, suggestions based on previously visited sites cannot be turned off. Chrome will also autocomplete the URLs of sites visited often. If a user types several keywords into the Omnibox and press enter, Chrome will conduct the search using the default search engine.
When Google Chrome is not maximized, the tab bar appears directly under the title bar. When maximized, the tabs become flush with the top of the titlebar. Like other browsers, it has a full-screen mode that hides the operating system's interface as well as the browser chrome.
One of Chrome's differentiating features is the New Tab Page, which can replace the browser home page and is displayed when a new tab is created. Originally, this showed thumbnails of the nine most visited web sites, along with frequent searches, recent bookmarks, and recently closed tabs; similar to Internet Explorer and Firefox with Google Toolbar 6, or Opera's Speed Dial. In Google Chrome 2.0, the New Tab Page was updated to allow users to hide thumbnails they did not want to appear. Logo used from the start of the Chrome project until March 2011Current Google Chrome logo used from March 2011 to presentStarting in version 3.0, the New Tab Page was revamped to display thumbnails of the eight most visited web sites. The thumbnails could be rearranged, pinned, and removed. Alternatively, a list of text links could be displayed instead of thumbnails. It also features a "Recently closed" bar that shows recently closed tabs and a "tips" section that displays hints and tricks for using the browser.
Chrome includes a bookmark manager that can be opened from a menu. Adding the command-line option: --bookmark-menu adds a bookmarks button to the right of the Omnibox that can be used in place of the bookmarks bar. However, this functionality is currently unavailable on the Linux and Mac platforms.
Google Chrome's preferences window has three tabs: Basic, Personal Stuff, and Under the Hood. The Basic tab includes options for the home page, search engine, and default browser. The Personal Stuff tab lets users configure synchronization, saved passwords, form autofill, browsing data, and themes. The Under the Hood tab allows changing network, privacy, download, and security settings.
Chrome does not have a status bar, but displays loading activity and hover-over information via a status bubble that pops up at the bottom left of the relevant page, excluding hovering over links in image maps.
Chrome has special URLs that load application-specific pages instead of websites or files on disk. Chrome also has a built-in capability to enable experimental features. Originally called about:labs, the address was changed to about:flags to make it less obvious to casual users.
In March 2011, Google introduced a new simplified logo to replace the previous 3D logo that had been used since the project's inception. Google designer Steve Rura explained the company reasoning for the change, "Since Chrome is all about making your web experience as easy and clutter-free as possible, we refreshed the Chrome icon to better represent these sentiments. A simpler icon embodies the Chrome spirit – to make the web quicker, lighter, and easier for all."
Chrome allows users to make local desktop shortcuts that open web applications in the browser. The browser, when opened in this way, contains none of the regular interface except for the title bar, so as not to "interrupt anything the user is trying to do." This allows web applications to run alongside local software (similar to Mozilla Prism and Fluid).
Announced on December 7, 2010, the Chrome Web Store allows users to install web applications as extensions to the browser, although these function simply as links to popular web pages and/or games. The themes and extensions have also been tightly integrated into the new store, allowing users to search the entire catalog of Chrome extras.
Criticism of the idea came quickly. Ryan Paul of Ars Technica wrote on December 9, 2010: "The way that users consume applications in the desktop and mobile world is fundamentally different than they (sic) way that they do it on the Web—where paywalls are often reviled and there is little distinction between content and software. In such an environment, does the application store model make any sense? We are not convinced...Aside from gaming, the idea of an application store in a Web browser—where installation is little more than bookmarking—seems counterintuitive and leaves us with the impression that the entire exercise is a solution in search of a problem."
The Chrome Web Store was opened on February 11, 2011 with the stable, non-beta, release of Google Chrome 9.0.597.98.
Google has included aero peek capability for each tab on Windows 7. This has not been added by default but can be user enabled, resulting in a displayed thumbnail image of the tab. This will create similar functioning to that which is already included in IE8, Firefox and other browsers.
Negative responses from beta users on the inefficiency of aero peek tabs implementation in Chrome lead Google to exclude this as a default function.
On September 9, 2009, Google enabled extensions by default on Chrome's Dev channel, and provided several sample extensions for testing. In December, the Google Chrome extension gallery beta began with over 300 extensions.
Along with Google Chrome 4.0, the extension gallery was officially launched on January 25, 2010, containing over 1500 extensions.
Google became leaders in the field of Search engine optimization and have even published an SEO Starter Guide which provides valuable information on how to optimize your site in the Google era. Matt Cutts who works for the Search Quality group in Google, specializing in search engine optimization issues, is well known in the SEO community for enforcing the Google Webmaster Guidelines and advising the public on how to get better website visibility in Google. Thanks to Google's cooperation with the SEO industry, Google Chrome became a valuable browser for developers in the SEO business who developed many SEO extensions for Google Chrome, Chrome web store also enables many SEO tools.
As of February 4, 2011, the extension gallery featured over 11500 extensions, including official extensions from The Independent, CEOP, Transport for London, Cricinfo, WOT: Web of Trust and FIFA.
Starting with Google Chrome 3.0, users can install themes to alter the appearance of the browser. Many free third-party themes are provided in an online gallery, accessible through a "Get themes" button in Chrome's options.
On January 8, 2009 Google introduced a new release system with three distinct channels: Stable, Beta, and Developer preview (called the "Dev" channel). Before this change there were only two channels: Beta and Developer preview. All previous Developer channel users were moved to the Beta channel. The reason given by Google is that the Developer channel builds are less stable and polished than those that Developer channel users were getting during Google Chrome's Beta period. The stable channel will be updated with features and fixes once they have been thoroughly tested in the Beta channel, and the Beta channel will be updated roughly monthly with stable and complete features from the Developer channel. The Developer channel is where ideas get tested (and sometimes fail) and can be very unstable at times. On July 22, 2010 Google announced it will ramp up the speed it will release new stable versions; they will shorten the release cycles from quarterly to 6 weeks. The faster release cycle brought a fourth channel: the "Canary" release; the name refers to using canaries in coal mines, so if a change "kills" Chrome Canary, they will block it from the developer build. Canary will be "the most bleeding-edge official version of Chrome and somewhat of a mix between Chrome dev and the Chromium snapshot builds". Canary releases run side-by-side with any other channel; it is not linked to the other Google Chrome installation and can therefore run different synchronization profiles, themes, and browser preferences. It cannot be set as the default browser. Canary was Windows-only at first, a Mac OS X version was released on May 3, 2011.
Chrome automatically keeps itself up to date. The details differ by platform. On Windows, it uses Google Updater, and autoupdate can be controlled via Group Policy, or users can download a standalone version that does not autoupdate. On Mac, it uses Google Update Service, and autoupdate can be controlled via the Mac OS X "defaults" system. On Linux, it lets the system's normal package management system supply the updates.
Google uses its Courgette algorithm to provide the binary difference of the user's current version in relation to the new version that's about to be automatically updated to. These tiny updates are well suited to minor security fixes and allow Google to push new versions of Chrome to users quickly, thereby reducing the window of vulnerability of newly discovered security flaws.
|Installation||Randomly generated token included in installer. Used to measure success rate of Google Chrome.||
|RLZ identifier||Encoded string, according to Google, contains non-identifying information how Chrome was downloaded and its install week, and is used to measure promotional campaigns. Google provides the source code to decode this string.||
|clientID||Unique identifier along with logs of usage metrics and crashes.||Unknown||Yes|
|Suggest||Text typed into the address bar||While typing||Yes|
|Page not found||Text typed into the address bar||Upon receiving "Server not found" response||Yes|
|Bug tracker||Details about crashes and failures||Unknown||Yes|
|Google Updater||Details about Chrome version||Unknown||Yes|
Some of the tracking mechanisms can be optionally enabled and disabled through the installation interface and through the browser's options dialog. Unofficial builds, such as SRWare Iron and ChromePlus, seek to remove these features from the browser altogether. The RLZ feature is not included in the Chromium browser either.
In March 2010, Google devised a new method to collect installation statistics: the unique ID token included with Chrome is now only used for the first connection that Google Update makes to its server. This sole remaining non-optional user tracking mechanism is removed following the server ping.
The recommended requirements for optimal performance of Chrome are:
- Windows: XP Service Pack 2+ / Vista / 7, Intel Pentium 4 or later, 100MB Hard Disk, 128MB memory
- Mac OS X: 10.5.6 or later, Intel (not PPC), 100MB Hard Disk, 128MB memory
- Linux: Ubuntu 8.04 or later / Debian 5 / OpenSuse 11.1 / Fedora Linux 10, Intel Pentium 3 / Athlon 64 or later, 100MB Hard Disk, 128MB memory
Further information: Usage share of web browsers and Browser warsUsage share of web browsers according to StatCounter, Chrome was 22.14% in July 2011.In 2008, The Daily Telegraph's Matthew Moore summarizes the verdict of early reviewers: "Google Chrome is attractive, fast and has some impressive new features, but may not—yet—be a threat to its Microsoft rival."
Initially, Microsoft reportedly "played down the threat from Chrome" and "predicted that most people will embrace Internet Explorer 8." Opera Software said that "Chrome will strengthen the Web as the biggest application platform in the world." But by February 25, 2010, BusinessWeek had reported that "For the first time in years, energy and resources are being poured into browsers, the ubiquitous programs for accessing content on the Web. Credit for this trend—a boon to consumers—goes to two parties. The first is Google, whose big plans for the Chrome browser have shaken Microsoft out of its competitive torpor and forced the software giant to pay fresh attention to its own browser, Internet Explorer. Microsoft all but ceased efforts to enhance IE after it triumphed in the last browser war, sending Netscape to its doom. Now it's back in gear." Mozilla said that Chrome's introduction into the web browser market comes as "no real surprise", that "Chrome is not aimed at competing with Firefox", and furthermore that it should not affect Google's revenue relationship with Mozilla. Chrome's design bridges the gap between desktop and so-called "cloud computing." At the touch of a button, Chrome lets you make a desktop, Start menu, or Quick Launch shortcut to any Web page or Web application, blurring the line between what's online and what's inside your PC. For example, I created a desktop shortcut for Google Maps. When you create a shortcut for a Web application, Chrome strips away all of the toolbars and tabs from the window, leaving you with something that feels much more like a desktop application than like a Web application or page.—PC WorldAccording to StatCounter, Chrome was the most used web browser in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Philippines, Malaysia, Pakistan, Mauritania, Tunisia, Albania, Macedonia, Moldova and Armenia in July 2011.
Concern about Chrome's optional usage collection and tracking have been noted in several publications. On September 2, 2008, a CNET news item drew attention to a passage in the Terms of Service statement for the initial beta release, which seemed to grant to Google a license to all content transferred via the Chrome browser. The passage in question was inherited from the general Google terms of service. On the same day, Google responded to this criticism by stating that the language used was borrowed from other products, and removed the passage in question from the Terms of Service. Google noted that this change would "apply retroactively to all users who have downloaded Google Chrome." There was subsequent concern and confusion about whether and what information the program communicates back to Google. The company stated that usage metrics are only sent when users opt in by checking the option "help make Google Chrome better by automatically sending usage statistics and crash reports to Google" when the browser is installed.
The optional suggestion service included in Google Chrome has been criticized because it provides the information typed into the Omnibox to the search provider before the user even hits return. This allows the search engine to provide URL suggestions, but also provides them with web usage information tied to an IP address. The feature can be selected off in the preferences-under the hood-privacy box.
In April 2011, Google was criticized for not signing onto the Do Not Track feature for Chrome that is being incorporated in most other modern web browsers, including Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera. Critics pointed out that a new patent Google was granted in April 2011, for greatly enhanced user tracking though web advertising, will provide much more detailed information on user behavior and that do not track will hurt Google's ability to exploit this. Software reviewer Kurt Bakke of Conceivably Tech wrote, "Google said that it intends charge advertisers based on click-through rates, certain user activities and a pay-for-performance model. The entire patent seems to fit Google's recent claims that Chrome is critical for Google to maintain search dominance through its Chrome web browser and Chrome OS and was described as a tool to lock users to Google's search engine and – ultimately – its advertising services. So, how likely is it that Google will follow the do-not-track trend? Not very likely." Mozilla developer Asa Dotzler noted, "It seems pretty obvious to me that the Chrome team is bowing to pressure from Google's advertising business and that's a real shame. I had hoped they'd demonstrate a bit more independence than that."
Google argued that the technology is useless at the present time, as advertisers are not required to obey the user's tracking preference and as it is still unclear on what constitutes tracking (as opposed to storing statistical data or user preferences). As an alternative, Google offers an extension called "Keep My Opt-Outs", which permanently bars ad companies from installing cookies on the user's computer.
The reaction to this extension was mixed. Paul Thurrott of Windows IT Pro called the extension "much, much closer to what I've been asking for—i.e. something that just works and doesn't require the user to figure anything out—than the IE or Firefox solutions" while lamenting the fact that the extension is not included as part of the browser itself.[