Remember the old days, when web pages were basic text layouts? They were book-like. The infrastructure behind most modern browsers was designed to deal with the old web 1.0. In the era of the web 2.0 buzzword, we more often think of the web as an environment rich in applications. Google says that Chrome was built with that in mind
Features of the browser
The url bar and search bar are combined similar to the Firefox 3 "Awesome Bar". Google calls this the Omnibar. They also have a new tab page that appears to guess what you might want to look at next.
Another nice feature is that you can drag tabs out of the browser and make a new window. All of the tabs are separate processes, meaning that if a tab crashes you won't loose everything you have open in other tabs. Closing a tab frees up memory and even surfing to a new page releases the previous pages memory use. An internal task manager allows you to see what plugins and tabs are using the most of your computers energy. There is an "incognito mode" that allows you to prevent sites including Google from viewing your information. Pretty nifty.
The design interface is minimalist. Especially when you maximize the window as the tabs will touch right against the top of your screen. It's a very nice way to see just the webpage and forget the interface you're seeing through. As it's based on webkit, the rendering engine is quite pretty. It takes a bit of getting used to, like most new programs, but I find the interface fairly intuitive and pleasant. It's all about viewing what's on the web (aka the cloud) and not the application, which is pretty much in Google's best interests of course. One good tip is that putting a question mark (?) in the omnibar before typing ensures a search. You can get the question mark to appear from anywhere by hitting ctrl-K.
Update September 6, 2008. I've seen many users complain about the lack of a home page button with the other navigation buttons. This is the default, but did you know you can just change this in the Google Chrome Options dialog? Just click the wrench icon for a menu, go to Options and in the Basics tab that opens check off the "Show homepage button in the toolbar" box. Simple!