Google Chrome 17 released, claims better performance and – if you’re a Windows user – security

February 9, 2012 – 07:00 by in News Print Share No Comment

Google Chrome 17 has landed as a stable release, two months on from version 16’s appearance, and less than a month after version 17 entered beta. The cross-platform browser, based on Google’s open-source Chromium project, appears just a day after Chrome for Android debuted for Ice Cream Sandwich users.

Version 17 promises to boost both performance through anticipating what web page the user is typing into the URL box before pre-rendering it in the background. It also screens Windows downloads for potentially malicious files, alerting the user to both known malware  and files from potentially unsafe sources.

The big performance gain is supposed to occur when the user starts typing in a web address – as the address is typed, Chrome will attempt to anticipate what site the user plans to visit, pre-loading it in the background. The aim is to reduce waiting times when loading sites to zero, but it relies on the user manually entering the site address each time, and while welcome, won’t produce noticeable results for many, particularly those who use the Bookmarks folder and browse largely via clicking links in web pages.

Of more practical benefit to Windows users will be the new download screening tool. This is now a two-step process – all EXE and MSI files are first compared to a whitelist of known safe files. If they’re not on the list, Chrome will perform more background checks, including whether or not the site where the file is being downloaded from is known to host a high number of malware files.

Other changes are minor and not considered noteworthy by Chrome – one feature we have spotted is the addition of adjustable margins to the Print Preview dialog box. The update is rounded off with numerous bug fixes and security updates – ironically, a new bug appears to have crept in, with the + sign now missing from the New Tab button. Expect this to be fixed soon.

Google Chrome 17 is a free download for Windows, Mac and Linux. Expect both Google Chrome Beta and Google Chrome Dev  channels to be updated to versions 18 and 19 respectively soon.

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