Google (s GOOG) announced an alpha version of their Chrome browser for Mac and Linux systems this morning. I immediately downloaded it and have used it as my main browser for the past six hours. It wasn’t until after I downloaded it that I actually read the news: Google suggested (yelled, actually based on the all caps) not to download this version unless you were a developer. As I said on Twitter, I’m such a “webel” when it comes to early browser builds.
I’ve only used it on my Mac, although I’ll take it for spin later on my MSI Wind. The netbook is currently set up for a dual-boot between the Windows 7 Release Candidate and Ubuntu 9.04. Two initial thoughts:
- This is the fastest browser I’ve seen yet. Some folks understandably mentioned that I started smoking from a big, fat FiOS pipe yesterday, which is true. But that only gets the data to my browser faster; the browser still has to render it. and that’s where I’m seeing the huge difference. The same web usage on other browsers today have been visibly slower.
- This is definitely an alpha. It hasn’t crashed on me yet, but there are over 400 open issues the Chrome team has listed. Some are behind the scenes, but many are visual, functional or usability items. They include: no bookmarks, no Flash video support, and no changing of the default search engine. While you can pull a tab out to become an independent window, you can’t turn that tab into an “app” on your desktop. I don’t yet see a native way to control or view the discrete Chrome processes created by each open tab. I can see them in the Mac’s Activity Monitor, of course. These are just some of the many holes to be patched.
For many people out there, this might be worth a quick download to kick the tires, but that’s about it. There are just too many missing features that people expect in a browser. That’s not a slight against Chrome or the Chrome team; this is after all, a public alpha. Even for a company that continuously releases products in beta, there’s bound to be plenty of gaps. Regardless of the missing features and functions, the browser is quick, offers a simple interface and is fast. Oh wait…I already said that.