This piece of news is very sudden to me. Yes, rumours did circulate before that Google was working on some kick-ass web browser, but I didn't anticipate such an early release.
So Google announced on Monday that it will be shipping a public beta of its first web browser, Chrome. This is big big news, because this implies not only that there will be more competition facing Mozilla and Microsoft, but we as users who depend so greatly on the web browser will also have to evaluate this product and determine if it's better than Firefox or IE. So there will soon be 3 major web browsers... cool!
For more information, check out this comic on Chrome, released by Google themselves.
Basically this product is based upon the open source Web browser engine, WebKit. FYI, WebKit is also the engine powering Safari, but no immature comparisons should be made with Safari (and how horrible it is) until we really test it out.
Google being Google, the Internet company that it is renowned for, has created Chrome to be centered around web applications. And because we spend so much time on these web apps (like Blogger, Facebook, Gmail etc.), the browser is arguably the most important software on many people's computers. One of the main emphasis Chrome places is on stability of the browser, such that when it crashes, it doesn't bring down the entire program, but just the tab that is causing the problem. This is done through creating isolated processes for each tab and "sand-boxing" each tab. Curiously, this is what Microsoft is doing for IE 8 too. ^.^
Other areas where Chrome promises to do better than the competition is in security, performance, and simplicity without being feature-bland.
It is too early to say whether Chrome will dominate over IE or FireFox, but this is definitely an interesting product which everyone should consider installing once out of beta.