Could the browser wars of the late 1990s web be upon us again? Then it was Netscape versus Internet Explorer, but now with the launch of Chrome it’s more than just two browsers pitted against each other. Google’s new entry in Chrome is certain to raise the temperature again. Internet Explorer has enjoyed dominance for around seven years. It has seen a small, but significant challenge from Firefox — which many users have been switching to simply because it is a faster, more efficient browser. So far, anecdotal reports point to Chrome being even faster than Firefox.
Google’s new browser is basic, with only core functionality, which focuses on what needs to be done best: Browsing. Some will find the lack of features an issue. Others will like the clean, minimalist look geared for fast browsing and a quick start-up.
What I like about it
1. It’s not evil: Upon start up, Google actually asks you if you want Google to be the default search engine or not, and offers you a chance to choose a rival. Nor does it try and muscle in on being the default browser on start up and shutdown (you set this in the options menu). Wow this must confuse the walled gardens…
2. Great UI: It’s fast, minimalist and clean. Google’s browser is rightly about what’s in the viewing pane, and the viewing area is maximised, with ultra-thin browser borders and browser buttons taking up a small part of the viewing area.
3. It loads up quickly, like Firefox. It’s something Internet Explorer never quite cracked.
4. It seamlessly and quickly imported my bookmarks and passwords from Firefox.
5. You can open a window in “incognito” mode, just a right click. Very simple. That should make Henk Kleynhans of Skyrove happy.
6. For the developers: A quick right click on any area of the page and selecting “inspect element” allows you to see the code behind it. (Happens a bit easier and quicker than Firefox).
7. On startup you can set it to open multiple homepages. That, I like.
8. Choose a new tab and you get option to select from your most visited sites. Saving me time already. Why didn’t the others think of that?
9. Task manager pretty cool for the multiple window & tab freaks.
10. To search, you just type your search term in the address bar. Nice and simple.
11. The important part of the url in the address bar is highlighted, the gunk low-lighted.
12. The ability to easily create application shortcuts on your desktop and toolbar to web services, like email, is a nice feature. Your online application then opens in a dedicated window without browser buttons and other functionality, much like an app would do. Broadly speaking, it is further evidence of the shift whereby the web is becoming a platform. In the future, the web will be your OS. Offline desktops will belong to the early web era (ie. now).
13. I love the 3D, industrial Chrome icon and logo.
What I dislike about it
1. No add-ons and extensions. Going to miss them… Google Chrome’s help does hint that it may be a temporary situation, but why launch without this key component? It’s one of the key things that has made Firefox what it is.
2. Where’s Google’s own toolbar? Some useful stuff there.
4. What about the Mac-ionistas? An important early-adopter constituency, surely?
First published on matthewbuckland.com