Not So Shiny Chrome

When I heard about Google’s Chrome browser yesterday, I was worried for Mozilla. Google is their biggest source of income and if Chrome became popular, there wouldn’t be much use in continuing that relationship. Now that I have tried it, I don’t think Mozilla has much to worry about at least for a few years.

There is much other browsers can learn from Chrome, but I think
Chrome is too simplified for most advanced users and those are the people who will most appreciate the big improvements. Having tabs in separate processes seems to be a very good idea. And being able to disconnect and reconnect tabs is convenient. Memory usage does seem pretty comparable to Firefox 3.

Popups and spyware problems are not improved much, if any, over Firefox 3. It does block some popups, but I still found plenty. One seemed triggered by Flash ads. I got one when clicking unrelated links on a hacker search engine. And I got one that seems to be a javascript redirect on a compromised blog that warned me I had viruses and is very effective. The same site twice convinced my mom that she had viruses. If you click anywhere on the site, two EXEs are downloaded automatically. With Firefox, only one was downloaded. The only thing Chrome did better was not allow the site to hide the browser window by resizing it and moving it to the corner behind the popup dialog. Firefox can be set for that too.

Chrome is missing an easy way to reopen accidentally closed tabs. You can do it from the Opera Speed Dial like home page, but why not from the context menu when you click on the tab bar? Having close buttons on each tab makes it too easy to close them. I set Firefox to show close buttons only on the active tab.

I didn’t do any official timing tests, but to me Chrome feels slower than Firefox. Loading javascript heavy pages might be faster, Gmail did load pretty fast, but loading regular HTML and images seemed slower.

The best part of Chrome is that it will advance web standards. Google’s Chrome comic explains how they test page rendering automatically on tons of the most popular pages found in their search engine. Any improvement they make will be able to benefit Apple Safari’s WebKit core which eventually works its way back KDE’s KHTML in Konqueror.

Chrome is an extremely polished beta, but if you use anything more than the back button on your browser, there is nothing really great about it that will convince people to switch. IE8 beta looks pretty good too, but I will be sticking with Firefox. Mozilla keeps actively working on Firefox. From past experience with Google software, I wouldn’t be surprised if they get board with the project and development stalls for long periods. Google’s Browser Sync was long neglected and is being discontinued. Google’s Picasa is finally nearing a beta for 3.0 but has not had a major update since June 2006 when 2.5 was released. Hopefully this one is better, but take a look at their Mac and Linux support if you are waiting for this browser on other operating systems.

Update: I gave Chrome another try after it was developed a bit more and started using it more and more. I love the speed improvements and use it 90% of the time now even though I miss a bunch of Firefox extensions and Greasemonkey scripts.

4 Comments to "Not So Shiny Chrome"

  1. April 9, 2009 - 12:59 am | Permalink

    I agree with your review of Chrome, but with one exception – I find it loads very fast indeed – faster than Firefox or IE. I still prefer Firefox which feels like the most professional browser for an advanced user, but for the occasional “I’ll just go on the computer and check that”, Chrome is pretty good I think

    Tom (Green Explorer on flickr)

  2. June 5, 2009 - 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Hi there!

    I sent you a flickrmail to request the use of one of your pictures for a non-profit magazine. I’m so sorry to be bugging you on your blog, but we are going to print very soon and we would love to be able to include your gorgeious mosquito shot in the magazine.

    You can answer via Flickrmail or via my email.

    Thanks so much!

    And sossyr again for being completely out of context on this blog post.

    *L*

  3. June 30, 2009 - 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Hi,

    I found one of your pictures posted on http://www.chessworld.com as a free download. The terms of use indicated it was alright to use for non-commercial purposes. Long story short… as I was looking for more chess pictures on flickr I came across yours and noticed that all rights are reserved. Now I am panicking because the picture plays a vital role on my site. The purpose of the site is to remind people that chess websites don’t have to look like a five-year old put it there, and that Chess is elegant, beautiful, and inspiring. At this point it is a non-commercial project.
    My question to you…
    Can you visit my site –
    http://www.mychesseveryday.schafli.com/play.html
    and let me know if I can still use the picture, or if we need to figure something else out. I will of course give credit to you on my Credits page in whatever way you wish.

    Sincerely,
    Luke Schafli

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