Chrome lives in dog years: It's seven years old but just turned 50

It seems like just yesterday Google released that slightly odd comic

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Google's Chrome browser has reached its 50th release.

The browser debuted on September 1st, 2008, complete with a comic book to explain its then-novel approach of giving each Tab its own process. Isolating each Tab made the browser more resilient by allowing a poorly-coded Web app to take down just one process, rather than the whole browser.

Google's used the browser to push its agenda of "modernising" the web, making sure it could render HTML 5, adding standards like WebRTC and whenever possible making sure it could use new tools and techniques sooner rather than later.

Chrome's been a hit: Web analytics outfit W3counter says Chrome accounts for 51.99 per cent of the browser market, ahead of Apple's Safari and Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Edge.

One of Chrome's big advantages is its inclusion with millions upon millions of Android devices, which makes it a force on the desktop and on mobile hardware. It's therefore perhaps fitting that version 50 will serve mobile users well by adopting async CSS so that the browser knows what content a web page thinks it should pre-load so that users get human-readable content in their eyeballs faster. Another new feature allows mobile users to cancel or pause downloads.

Chrome mostly updates itself, but if you want to get to version 50 with the sweat of your own brow, here it is. ®


One feature that Chrome pioneered but later killed was “Application Shortcuts”, a tool that put a web site into its own window stripped of navigation from the UI and appearing as a discrete app when ALT-TABbing between programs. Application shortcuts were great because they made it easy to change between web pages with ALT-TAB. Yes, one can move between Tabs with CTRL-T, but gee I liked Application Shortcuts back in the day. Google promised to bring them to Chrome for Mac, leaving the menu item for Application Shortcuts greyed out for years, before binning them on all platforms. Am I alone in missing them?


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