Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Obligatory Google Chrome Post

Yes, I've installed Google Chrome, and no, it's not an Internet Explorer killer, at least not yet. My browser of choice is Firefox 3, and I see nothing in Chrome at this point that will get me to switch. The biggest advanage that I see so far is that Chrome seems to be considerably faster in loading pages than either IE or Firefox. Chrome uses the same WebKit rendering engine that Safari uses, and Safari has been roundly praised for its speed, so it's no surprise that Chrome is fast. Google benchmarks show that Chrome's V8 JavaScript compiler is much faster than the interpreters in IE, Firefox and Opera, but the forthcoming Firefox 3.1 will have its own JavaScript compiler, so Chrome's performance advantage may be short-lived.

It's going to take a long time for Chrome to get the same kind of third-party developer support that Firefox already has, but I don't think that's Google's objective: I think that they're targeting users who want simple, fast browsing, and couldn't care less whether the browser supports add-ons. Click one button and it's installed. Every visitor to Google Search is a potential user. That's got to scare Microsoft, even if Chrome is less sophisticated in many ways than IE.

I've visited some sites that don't recognize the Chrome user agent, and thus either limit access or won't give access to Chrome users at all. Therefore, the onus is now on Google to get site developers to support Chrome. That's not going to be easy, because other than the Google name, I haven't seen anything compelling enough to get most people to switch from their existing browser to Chrome.

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