26 May 2009

Google Chrome versus Mozilla Firefox?

I am not concerned with Chrome’s market share - It’s silly to use a browser just because ‘everyone else does’ and it’s silly to swear loyalty to a specific browser when there is nothing forcing you to use just one. I actually quite like Google Chrome, not because it is ‘better’ than Firefox, but because it is different to Firefox.

My initial exposure to Chrome was curiosity driven, I installed it to just ‘check it out’ like most people and my first impression was ‘nice… But I can’t use this, it doesn’t support all of the Firefox plugins that I need’.

First impressions last, and it’s true that Chrome doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles that Firefox does in the form of plugin support for just about anything and everything… But what Chrome does offer you instead, is stream lined speed and efficiency without any “bolt-ons” to hold it back.

I stumbled across the hidden joys of Chrome by accident during routine browser compatibility testing. My workstation has limited resources to be straight, and I think this is why Chrome has really come into its own for me – I won’t try and convince you that Chrome actually loads websites faster than other browsers (in spite of it’s boasted Javascript performance). But there is no denying that it starts up really fast and is less demanding on system resources, which contributes to a more pleasant work environment for me on a rather average workstation.

I don’t have access to Firefox extensions all the time any more but If I do need something extra like Firebug then I simply fire up Firefox and no one gets hurt. I don’t think it has to be a case of either Firefox or Chrome and if Google does introduce plugins and customization for Chrome, to try and make it more like Firefox, then it may well lose it’s appealing speed and efficiency – The very characteristics that differentiate Chrome and stop me from chucking it on the ‘just another browser’ pile. So, Google have carved themselves an interesting niche on this one. For efficient every day browsing, I find Chrome hard to beat.

What I like most about Chrome:
  • Superb startup time
  • Minimalist design (in that simple and beautiful Google way)
  • "Ctrl+B" hides/shows the bookmark bar
  • Full screen support has been introduced in Chrome 2.0 (F11)
  • Removable tabs are an awesome feature (especially with dual monitors)
  • New tabs offer you “Most visited”, “Recent bookmarks” and “Recently closed tabs”
  • Search directly from the address bar
  • Linux and Mac flavours are now available (Chromium)
  • Efficiency - it’s just so quick and easy to get to where you want to go
I know that Chrome presents its own issues like Google privacy concerns and rendering issues I have noticed particularly when check boxes are concerned. But no browser renders every page on the net perfectly. The world’s most imperfect browser has the highest market share and Microsoft’s IE6 was voted the “the eighth worst tech product of all time” by PC world in 2006. By contrast, Chrome is a fair browser offering already and I'm sure that Google will continue to polish all the blemishes out and make it even more shiny.

I don't know how significant an impact Chrome is going to have on the browser market, but it’s superbly efficient and I like it. Give it a try – you might find it a pleasantly relaxing browsing experience.

Update: I am most impressed with the speed of the new Firefox 3.5. I am probably going to start using Firefox more again where I can enjoy custom extensions as well as speed :) I love good, solid competition!!! Now if only Firefox could get detatchable tabs...