Great, just what the world needs, another free browser. That was my first thought. I have Firefox and love it (along with a few essential extensions). I have Internet Explorer, mostly because it’s installed with Windows but also because occasionally I encounter sites that have been developed¬†explicitly¬†for Internet Explorer. I have Safari, only because I installed it to have a look and then didn’t de-install it. I had Flock for about ten minutes (that was all that was required for me to decide I didn’t need it).

Why would I want yet another browser?

And yet, there was absolutely no way that I wasn’t going to install Chrome and give it a whirl. I’m actually writing this blog post using Chrome right now. It has some great things, it has some major deficiencies (for example, it’s not spell-checkking this as I type). Some of the important things are under the hood – the separate threading which will stop one rogue page killing all of your browser session (nice). And the strengthened sandbox approach to ensuring your personal data isn’t captured.

I guess the important thing is that Google have recognised that browsers, despite having more and more features stuffed into them, haven’t really changed much in ten years – but the Interweb is a very different place. Chrome, if you believe the blurb, sets out to address the changes in the way we work. I think I’d have to give it a more thorough test drive, and I aim to do that for a week or so, to see whether their claim holds up. In the meantime, what’s good about Chrome…?

  • The architecture – security, multi-threading, security, all that stuff you don’t see.
  • When you create a new tab, it shows you your most-visited sites, recently-created bookmarks, a history search bar and recently-closed tabs – the idea being that you may want to return to some of those things (I’d like Firefox to do that).
  • The tab mechanism that lets you pull off a number of tabs and group them in a separate window.
  • The address bar goes one better than Firefox – as well as suggesting URLs from your history or bookmarks it also suggest sites you might want to visit based on the word you type. A completely random example, type ‘wyoming’ and it’ll suggest the State of Wyoming Government page.
  • Screen real-estate – lots of it. Who needs menus anyway?

But there is some bad news…

  • RSS feed support – I couldn’t find any. As someone who uses Firefox’s live bookmarks this is a big omission (granted this is a beta, so it may come).
  • Memory usage – the apparent downside of it’s protected sessions is that it uses more memory. At the moment I have five Firefox tabs open and I have the same pages loaded into Chrome… it’s using over half as much memory again as Firefox.
  • The toolbar – it’s a bit too minimal, the option to add other buttons would be nice.

In summary, there’s nothing here to make me switch from Firefox but I do find myself liking Chrome. A bit of competition in the browser market (I say market, who ever paid for a browser?) is no bad thing and can only foster further innovation. Time will tell if Chrome addresses the missing features in later betas and the finished first version.

Written by Darren

Darren Adams works for Microsoft as a Global Account Technology Strategist. In a former life he worked for the Lotus brand within IBM for many years. Married with one daughter and two dogs, and lives in Camberley (Surrey, England). That's it really.

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