Google has unleashed a new Chrome 10 beta browser with several new features, including a substantially faster JavaScript engine. Chrome 10 beta also integrates accelerated video for PCs with graphics processing units (GPU).

Browsers are the gateway to the Internet, so it's great to see fierce competition, noted Al Hilwa, director of applications software development at IDC. But browser makers won't be able to continue packing substantial performance gains into new releases forever, he said.

"There is going to be a continuous leapfrogging war in terms of speed, performance and features," Hilwa said. "Exploitation of more hardware for that extra ounce of new performance will continue, but at some point we will reach diminishing returns."

More Chrome 10 Improvements

Google's development team says Chrome 10 beta's new V8 JavaScript engine represents a 66 percent improvement over the previous release. Moreover, the GPU acceleration promises to reduce CPU usage in machines equipped with capable graphics hardware and counter Microsoft's claim that IE9 is designed to make better use of the entire PC.

Furthermore, Chrome 10 beta sports two new settings to make it easier for users to navigate through the browser's nested configuration settings, noted Product Manager Jeff Chang and Product Marketing Manager Min Li Chan.

"If you can't remember where a particular pesky configuration setting is, simply type its name into the search box to see the settings that match as you type," Chang and Chan wrote in a blog. "You can also now jump directly to most settings pages using their own dedicated URLs, without needing to navigate through a sequence of windows."

Additionally, Chrome 10 beta gives users the ability to synchronize saved passwords across multiple computers, just as it does with bookmarks, preferences, themes and extensions, all of which are stored in the cloud. "For added security, you can choose to encrypt your synced passwords with your own secret sync passphrase," Chang and Chan explained.

Privacy and Data Control

Still, Hilwa said the most important set of features in the current crop of browsers are probably those relating to privacy and data control. "This is where the various vendors are beginning to distinguish themselves in terms of their philosophy toward that issue," Hilwa said.

Of the privacy and data control features that have been proposed and implemented, Hilwa likes IE9's Do Not Track capabilities the best. "It is the only one that actually puts the control over information in the browser," Hilwa explained. "We have to wait and see how the various site-list systems evolve in this way."

Hilwa also thinks the latest glimpse of the user interface evolution in Chrome provides a good indication of where Google wants to take its browser by "trying to position it as a usability leader." "But UI changes are always a challenge for the installed base of users who have already learned one way to do things," he noted.