The minimalist Chrome browser from Google is built for a future that blurs the lines between web and desktop, writes New York Times technology columnist David Pogue. Google argues that current web browsers were designed eons ago, before so many of the developments that characterize today’s web: video everywhere, scams and spyware, viruses that lurk even on legitimate sites, web-based games, and ambitious web-based programs like Google’s own Docs word processor. As Google’s blog puts it, "We realized that the web had evolved from mainly simple text pages to rich, interactive applications and that we needed to completely rethink the browser." What this early version of Chrome accomplishes isn’t quite that grand, Pogue writes–but it is a first-rate beginning. With no status bar, no menu bar, and only a single toolbar (for bookmarks), Chrome is minimalist in the extreme. Some might even call it stripped-down. This initial version is labeled "beta," meaning it is still in testing. Chrome is, nonetheless, full of really smart features that seem to have been inspired by other browsers–or ripped off from them, depending on your level of cynicism…

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