Tuesday, September 2, 2008

on chrome.

So, Google has released a browser. Yeah, I know, kind of out of left field, huh? Remember when everyone thought that Google was putting together a G-Phone to take on the iPhone and then they took the wind out of their own sails, by announcing that it wasn't a phone at all, but rather an OS to run phones on? (And then, after getting the wind taken out of their [and our] sails, we all got super-excited again when we realized what that really meant and how crappy the iPhone truly was...? Or, was that just me?) Well, this is kind of like the opposite of that.

Mozilla and Google had been so comfy for the last few years that I guess I had just kind of figured they wouldn't care about this approach. I couldn't have been more wrong. Chrome has been unleashed on the world in a very public beta test and the early reviews are...middling at best? I don't know what to say about that. Here's my rundown.

I'm disappointed that it's not able to run on anything other than PCs so far, but I expect that'll be changed very very soon. Google is smart enough to realize that Apple's picking up a non-negligible share of the market and (at least in my opinion) they've always been pretty supportive of the Linux crowd.

The extensions and add-ons (at this point) are pretty sparse, which means that Firefox wins for now. I need things to work to the point that I exactly want them to in order to consider switching over at this point. If it doesn't, I'm not going to bother yet.

However, the new tab page is a very cool idea. As is the (I-didn't-know-we-had-it-yet) ability to move tabs. Firefox 3 has it, as does Safari, but I didn't know that. I guess that says more about me than the development of browsers.

The streamlined look is nice, but I've never been one to extraordinarily clean up my Firefox browser, so I'm guessing that I could make it look pretty close if I really really cared about that. (Obviously, it's never been a deal-breaker.)

Finally, the best thing that I have to say about Chrome is what it betrays about the imminently-coming Android phones: I hope they follow this through all the way. Give us a phone and let us choose: IE, Firefox, Safari, or, hey, look, we have our own browser too. It'll work great with this phone. But we won't force it on you. Choose whatever you want.

The Internet should be open and free. I firmly believe that Google is doing a good job pushing that agenda. And if Chrome is helping them do so, then I'll be more than willing to give it equal playing time with Firefox. At least on my PC at work, until they come up with a Mac-compatible version. Then we'll really start to hack away at things here at home.

Go check it out, download Chrome and see if you like it yourself.

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