Google Chrome uses rivals' code

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Google Chrome uses rivals' code

Google's Open Source web browser Chrome incorporates code and features developed by rivals Apple and Mozilla, Google acknowledged today.

"We were able to make a web browser because there were already good open source projects on which we could build, including [Apple's] WebKit and [Mozilla’s] Firefox," said Sundar Pichai, Vice President of product management.

Apple's WebKit is the rendering engine that forms the foundation of Chrome.

Further, several features championed by Google are already key elements of other browsers. The 'speed dial' homepage and placement of tabs are features of Opera, while the 'Incognito' privacy mode is already implemented in Internet Explorer 8.

Pichai also acknowledged that some of the project's engineers had worked on other browsers previously. For example, software engineer Ben Goodger was previously the lead engineer for Mozilla Firefox.

"There is an element of 'all roads lead to Rome' when you look at the complexity and intricacy of this project. It’s a small pool of people who work on browsers."

Pichai defended Chrome's development by reiterating Google's commitment to the Open Source community.

"To ensure that any advances we made benefit the web community as a whole, [and] not just us, Google Chrome is completely open source," he said.

"Open source projects spur healthy competition. Competition stimulates innovation. Innovation drives evolution. And evolution is the lifeblood of the internet."

Return of the browser wars?

With Chrome, Google steps into the heated competition between web browsers.

It will compete against two key browsers: Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, whose newest version that was released just weeks ago has been slow to pick up market share, and Mozilla’s Firefox, which has almost 20 per cent of the global browser audience.

Mozilla was magnanimous about the release. Former CEO Mitchell Baker said in her blog that Mozilla had created a competitive browser market and would continue to compete in it.

"Yesterday Google announced that it will release its own browser, validating once again the central idea that this tool we call the browser is fundamentally important. Our first great battle — that of relevance and acceptance — has been won," Baker wrote.

Microsoft remained confident that users would prefer Internet Explorer 8 to Chrome.

"The browser landscape is highly competitive," Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of the Internet Explorer group, told the New York Times.

"But people will choose Internet Explorer 8 for the way it puts the services they want right at their fingertips, respects their personal choices about how they want to browse and, more than any other browsing technology, puts them in control of their personal data online."

Pichai dismissed the idea of a new browser war. "I think browser wars are a thing of the past," he said.

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