Google is now building their own web browser named Chrome, based on the WebKit rendering engine and a beta version for Windows is currently available. They've put up some great comics that do a great job of introducing the new browser and some videos explaining some of the changes they've made.
I've always found Google applications on my Mac to be a bit out of place. Maybe it's part of the design they are going for, but even today, when I use their online apps, like Gmail, or desktop applications like Google Earth, they work well, but beautiful they are not. They are blocky, text heavy, lowest common denominator type of UIs. It's always felt to me like they didn't quite "get it" when it comes to blending into the platform and learning to be a "good citizen" on the user's platform of choice.
Today, it's clear to me why I've felt this way: Google isn't interested at all in "being a citizen" or part of a platform, they are interested in being the platform. If you look at the way Chrome is designed, it's not so much designed to be a good browser, as much as it is a good operating system for web applications. Google's desire is very much the same as Microsoft's, except abstracted a little higher up the stack. They want to own the platform upon which web applications are built, just like Microsoft wants to own the platform upon which desktop applications are built. This game of disintermediation seems to never end, but this time, what can Microsoft do? Or anyone else for that matter?
This is not to say that Google's success criteria for Chrome is market share. I think what they are trying to do is have a more direct hand in guiding and shaping the web app platform and raising it to a level that best fits their desires and needs. Google will be successful if in the future developers see no downside to developing a web app versus a traditional desktop application, but in-fact see a sizable upside to taking the web app route. For end users success will be when the "Omnibar" becomes the default interaction mechanism, the place they go to first and installers become a thing of the past.
Maybe that's why I think Google's stuff looks kind of basic. They are to the current web platform what command line terminals were to the earlier personal computer platform. The basics, from which great things are built.