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Summary:

I’m still annoyed and perplexed that Google would release Chrome for Windows so far ahead of other platforms. At least now they’re finally putting some kind of timeline on when we might see it come to OS X, although the news is hardly comforting, if you’re […]

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I’m still annoyed and perplexed that Google would release Chrome for Windows so far ahead of other platforms. At least now they’re finally putting some kind of timeline on when we might see it come to OS X, although the news is hardly comforting, if you’re as impatient as I am.

The latest from Google has stable releases of Chrome for Mac and Linux out by mid 2009, according to CNET. Both releases are said to be developing in parallel, which is according to Google’s release schedule. Maybe the rising popularity of netbooks with Linux-based operating systems is the cause of this egalitarian approach?

As it stands, both the Linux and Apple versions have very little to show for themselves, besides a very rudimentary “test shell” that can render webpages, but that don’t go beyond that. According to Chrome Product Manager Brian Rakowski, that’s according to plan, since current development is focused on making sure the core function of the web browser is stable, before moving on to adding more user experience features.

According to an informal survey conducted by CNET, the availability (or lack thereof) of a Mac version of Chrome is the second biggest barrier to adoption for respondents, coming in behind speed improvements. Currently, the only way for Mac users to run a working version of Chrome is through virtualization software, and that tends to offset the speed advantages the blazingly fast browser brings to the table.

Google is simultaneously working on bringing extensions to Chrome, so hopefully once it does drop for OS X, you’ll also be able to trick it out. If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can check out the progress of the Mac build, or download the test shell and experience all the glory of extremely limited functionality.

  1. Good news I suppose, but I fail to see why everyone is so excited over Chrome.

    It’s clearly not going to be the fastest web browser out there, at least in the first iteration. Javascript performance in almost every other browser is believed to be faster although everyone is so deep in betas at this point it’s not possible to be definitive either way. By the time it’s out for the Mac, the expected shakedown has Safari in the lead in both speed and market share, with Firefox sharing a close second with Opera.

    The only thing Chrome has going for it is the “minimal” interface and the separate processes for tabs thingie. But while most people actually *complain* about Safari’s overly minimalist approach and Chrome goes much further than Safari ever will in that area. It’s also kind of ironic that before the new “minimalist” browser is even out, we already have talk about how many dubious clunky plug-ins it will support. The whole point of the Chrome UI is it’s minimalism, yet we will undoubtedly have tons of “themes” with puppy dogs and floaty clouds or babes in swimsuits plastered all over. There will be themes to make it look like Firefox and ones to make it look like Safari etc.

    As for the separate memory spaces for web apps … great. But who uses web apps? A tiny, tiny fraction of users at this point, that’s who.

    It is a brilliant move to treat browser tabs as separate processes, but lets get real here, it’s years ahead of it’s time in terms of a useful or needed feature. It’s also open source code. By the time the separate memory management part of Chrome actually becomes a real differentiating factor between browsers, Safari and Firefox will most likely do the same thing with their browsers.

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  2. Martha Ellison Monday, January 12, 2009

    Google chrome is awful anyways. Firefox (and to some extent Apple’s Safari) are already the solid choice for Mac users. Since chrome is based on apple’s webkit, and so is Safari, there’s no inherent under the hood reason why chrome would be superior to apple’s browser anyways.

    Chrome is might be a better option for windows users, many of them enslaved to that lousy Internet explorer that MS pushes into the OS. Even on my PC, Firefox is the overwhelming safe choice.

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  3. I’m perplexed, too. I’m not blown away by Chrome by any means, but the decision to make Windows code the priority just seems daft to me. It’s the user group least likely to experiment and it just makes Google look like all those other weenies who think Windows is the safe bet for new products. It’s lame and they should know better.

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  4. #1/2/3 Agreed 100%

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  5. Commenters might want to read http://theappleblog.com/2008/12/30/the-ultimate-mac-browser-roundup/ before talking about browser comparison. For example, to say that because a browser is based on WebKit, it won’t be better than Safari, is clearly not true. Just look at the speeds for Crossover Chromium and you can see that the speed is beyond what the other WebKit browsers are offering (with the exception of the nightly build, which may prove to be faster than Chrome).

    Also, Chrome has it’s own JavaScript engine which shares a number of performance differences between SquirrelFish et al., not the least of which is the multi-threading which is an important feature – certainly not “ahead of it’s time as a useful feature”. Powerful AJAX apps are already putting a strain on the older JS engines and noticeable performance enhancements can be achieved with multi-threading.

    The lack of Mac support is dissapointing so far, but I don’t think it’s worth writing it off as useless. The competition between the new Firefox, new WebKit builds, and Chromium will be an exciting one.

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  6. Chrome is very good on my work PC; Safari is not. :(

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  7. While Safari doesn’t have an “official” extension system, that doesn’t mean programmers haven’t found ways to add a lot of Firefox’s functionality to the browser. For a good rundown of valuable extensions for Safari, check out this post at Mac Guru Lounge.

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