Though it is still the youngest of the major web browsers (at less than two years old), Google Chrome continues to impress and in many ways outshine the older and more mature browsers.And with the release of Chrome 5, Google now adds stable release versions of the browser for the Mac and Linux, which should increase the reach and the appeal of the Google web browser.
It's hard to argue against the impact of Chrome. It's release two years ago reenergized the browser wars and its focus on speed and standards and its unique and innovative user interface have had an effect on every other browser (so much so that a recent demo of the next generation of Firefox looked surprisingly like Chrome).
The availability of stable release versions of Chrome for the Mac and Linux is probably the biggest news about this release. But the new version of Chrome does include a few welcome new features and capabilities for Windows users as well.
The most interesting new capabilities in Chrome 5 center around its improved support for the emerging HTML 5 standard. These capabilities increase functionality such as offline application support and geolocation capabilities, as well as better application UIs. For example, with the new capabilities it is now possible in Gmail to drag and drop files directly into the Gmail window in order to add them as attachments.
Other new features include the ability to load and manage extensions while in Incognito mode (Chrome's private browsing mode) and the ability to synchronize all browser settings (not just bookmarks) with your Google account for use in Chrome browsers on other systems. And of course Chrome 5 continues Google's obsession with browser speed, as the browser shows a speed improvement over previous versions of the browser.
All in all Chrome continues to compare favorably to other browsers, including Firefox. Chrome loads much faster than Firefox and in many ways is easier to use. Firefox's biggest advantage remains its massive extensions community but Chrome is slowly catching up in this regard.
Still, whichever browser you prefer, be glad for the amount of choice and innovation that exists now. It wasn't that long ago that IE pretty much owned the browser market. In every way, the recent increase in browser competition has been a good thing for web innovation overall.
To try out the free Chrome browser, go to google.com/chrome.