Google is releasing an open source browser called Google Chrome which it promises will be small, fast and stable.
Available for download shortly, the tabbed browser is explained in a 38 page comic by Scott McCloud. The comic explains that browsers are now very different from when first introduced - they are used for running web applications rather than just rendering pages.
Tabs will be central to Chrome and will be moveable from window to window.
The browser will be multi-threaded - so separate tabs will run as separate processes.*
The URL window will include autocomplete - but only to pages you've actually typed into the address bar before and not to the specific page. Opening a new window will show you the nine pages you visit most often, and the four sites you search on most often, rather than a home page.
Chrome will have an incognito
porn mode - a window where none of your browsing history is recorded and cookies are deleted when the window is shut.
To stop malware processes are sandboxed - they cannot write files to your hard drive or read your documents. Chrome will get updates of phishing sites and malware attacks so browsers will get a warning if they go to a flagged site.
Chrome will include a task manager for each tab so you can see what resources are being used by individual pages.
The development team thanked Mozilla and Web Kit for their contribution.
The Windows version launches in 100 countries today, and Mac and Linux versions will follow soon.
A Reg reader clarifies: "Threads and processes are two separate things. Processes can contain multiple threads. If something goes wrong in a thread, your process dies with it. If Chrome used only threads rather than separate processes, the entire browser could - much more easily - be crashed by one bad piece of code.
With separate processes, a crash only kills that one process, so a tab whose work is done in a process can be marked as 'bad' (see the frowning face in their cartoon). The operating system (with the hardware's support) gets the responsibility of ensuring the process doesn't cause instability outside of itself. Operating systems are generally quite good at this."