23 Comments

Summary:

As if we didn’t have enough to juggle, Google adds their own browser to the mix. Google Chrome was released a few hours ago for Windows XP & Vista. A Mac version is promised at some point. Even though I’m a Mac user, it was worth […]

As if we didn’t have enough to juggle, Google adds their own browser to the mix. Google Chrome was released a few hours ago for Windows XP & Vista. A Mac version is promised at some point. Even though I’m a Mac user, it was worth a launch of VMWare Fusion to take the new kid on the block for a spin.

Initial impression? Nice start. I’m certainly not going to shout from the rooftops because Google puts its tabs above the address bar. Yes, it’s different. But in some areas of the browser it feels different for different’s sake which does nothing for productivity.

What sets Chrome apart, clearly, is how it manages resources. The browser is the operating system, and like with any modern OS each application is handled separately. I think of all us who live in Firefox know what it’s like to have 30 tabs open and be stuck because one is being ornery. The fact that Firefox has the ability to restore sessions after a crash or browser restart is great, but nothing beats the ability to close down the troublemaker tab and get back to work. 

Mac users, remember those System 7-9 applications that used to routinely crash and force a restart? That’s browsers today. Chrome wants to be the browser of tomorrow. What they’ve released today is a good proof of concept. But it’s not the workhorse Firefox currently is, warts & all. I’d recommend web workers wait and see how this develops before expecting Chrome to fit in a day-to-day workflow.

I only wish I could do the impossible and take the wonderful resource management in Chrome and bring it to Firefox, rather than having to wait until Chrome duplicates some of what already makes Firefox so successful.

I haven’t had enough time to really test how Chrome performs when it gets bogged down, but I like what I see so far. This is about rethinking how a browser is built from the ground-up, not about matching IE or Firefox pound-for-pound.

There are a few other nice touches, such as an “Inspect element” window that gives a source view that you typically need a Firefox Add-On to match. Chrome also handles downloads nicely and has built-in Gears support, allowing you to save a web app to your desktop. Later, you can open it without distraction of other tabs and navigation.

It may be a Google product, but I can’t see that Google apps behave any better or worse in Chrome than they do in Firefox.  Unfortunately, Chrome feels crippled by its current lack of plug-ins. I simply can’t do Gmail for any length of time without the Remember the Milk extension or Lifehacker’s outstanding Better Gmail 2

Web workers have to consider that it’s a new product, and it may take a while for favorite apps to catch up. For example, our organization uses the time tracking application ClickTime which works just great in Firefox, but this messages now greets me when I log in with Chrome:

For a browser that puportedly caters to the “cloud,” more robust password management is a must. I have 4 Google accounts, 3 Google Apps and one regular Gmail, and Chrome quickly got confused remembering which username/password went with which URL.

Ultimately, If I stayed in Chrome I think I would miss some basic features like spell checking, bookmark editing, RSS rendering, sidebar and more. I’m not giving up Firefox anytime soon.

Have you tried Chrome? Are you thinking of making a fulltime switch? Our sister blog OStatic has their own review of the browser here.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. What do you mean you would miss bookmark editing? I can edit bookmarks in Chrome.

  2. Hmm – if Google apps (and web apps in general) aren’t faster/better in Chrome… what’s the point? I’ve got a Mac, so I’ve not seen it yet, but unless there’s a significant performance increase from the new JavaScript engine and/or the UI brings significant productivity gains… why do this? Yes, isolating each browser from the others is a nice touch but is that one thing really worth a whole other browser?

  3. Chrome: Nice, But Not a “Killer” Browser Just Yet – GigaOM Tuesday, September 2, 2008

    [...] Get a second opinion at Web Worker Daily. [...]

  4. I’m not entirely sure that this is a particularly good development either. Most places I’ve seen this browser announced, it’s been stated that it will only help to spread out the competition a bit. In the end, though, this leads to more website bugs to hash out in yet another browser.

    I’m working on a site that works in IE6/7, FF 2/3 and Safari, but now some weird bugs are showing up in Chrome. Having to test everything in that, too, isn’t really an advantage.

    Splitting tabs into processes is a good idea, that much is for sure, but as rick stated above, is that really enough to justify a whole new browser?

  5. Dale, you can edit individual bookmarks and create folders, but Firefox does so much more in terms of overall bookmark management.

  6. I found Google apps to run WAY faster in Chrome than in Firefox. Just Reader alone is enough for me, where I normally have to wait a few seconds for it to load and then sometimes I have to reload the page just for my feeds to show up. With Chrome, they just pop up almost instantly. I use several spreadsheets which work flawlessly, and GMail is extremely fast now compared to what I normally have to deal with.

    Chrome is a major advancement over and above any other browser out there. First, lets look at Webkit, only the best html and css renderer available. Next, V8, JavaScript COMPILED! You are smoking crack or way too much of a Mozilla junky if you say that Firefox 3 is as fast as Chrome, because it is impossible. Having JavaScript compiled into machine code is an amazing step forward. Lastly, one of the biggest features is the multi-threaded browsing! This isn’t only for performance reasons, but the fact that EVERY tab is its own sandbox. The security that this provides is amazing. Even every plug-in is its own process, meaning that if there is a Java applet that is breaking on a site, you can go to the process manager and end its process.

    As a heavy JavaScript developer (I develop in Java and JavaScript, namely ExtJS, at work and then php and ExtJS at home) this is a HUGE break through in browsing and the web in general. Frankly, I am about ready to throw away Firefox and IE and replace it with Chrome, I think the only thing keeping me developing in Firefox is simply Firebug, but as soon as there is a replacement with Chrome, I’m completely gone. Chrome is already WAY faster than any other browser out there so for daily browsing I am not looking back.

  7. Well, I’ve been using Firefox for a few years now, and I’m pretty happy. However, I have quite a few Google functions running all of the time, so I might give Chrome a try. Google usually kicks out some good products, so I’ll at least give it a try before casting off completely.

    The OS inside the browser is an interesting concept, but it seems like that’s the direction they’ve been going for quite awhile.

    Jake
    NoteScribe: Premier Notes Software

  8. Point of this browser is the same as Apple’s Safari for Windows. This is the browser (or at least a close approximation) of the browser that is going to be available for Android. They need users/developers to get familiar with it. Their emphasis on improving JavaScript support and speed should make Adobe rather than Microsoft nervous. We could now have another widely deployed mobile platform with excellent JavaScript making mobile flash a non issue.

  9. To me this is yet another example of Google throwing an application together and then throwing it out there to see what happens. If it catches on great, if not then they will sunset it. Or maybe its just to annoy and frustrate microsoft (Android is another example of this for me). What must the folks at FireFox think though? I would not be impressed if I were them.
    For me google have already shown that they lack any innovation (unlike say apple…but like MS funnily enough). Almost all their decent products were bought (except gmail right?) and now they are just re-writing it all in gears.
    And their motto is “Do no Evil?”….no how about this…”Do?, No!, Evil!!” :)

  10. I haven’t heard anything about Google Chrome. No one seems to be talking about it [/sarcasm]

Comments have been disabled for this post