Google Chrome: Cool, But By No Means Compelling

The first time I read the news about Google’s new browser I was quite surprised. Does the world need another browser? Isn’t Google backing Firefox in a BIG way? Then, I read this and came away rather impressed at how technology can be explained so “nicely.”

So, I decided to give Chrome a test drive.

Quick Summary

  • The first noticeable feature is the speed. It installs very quickly, is light-weight and launches rather fast. Very impressive indeed.
  • The pop-up blocker is the best I have seen. Even the annoying pop-ups at the TOI site were blocked successfully.
  • The UI is uncluttered. Gone are the RSS feeds (which I miss!) and the custom toolbars (good riddance!).
  • The URL field and the search fields are merged into one and the tabs have been moved to that top of the screen. This takes some getting used to, especially if you thrive on tabs.
  • Each tab operates independently, so if one of the tabs are hung you can kill it and use the rest without having to restart the entire browser. This is probably the most attractive feature after the speed of the browser.
  • If you are more technically inclined the browser lets you see the memory usage of each tab.
  • Chrome is search engine neutral.
  • The current version of Chrome works only on Windows.

Desktop Icons

The various web apps (Google Apps, Gmail etc.) can be saved as desktop icons and can subsequently be opened like a regular, normal application as apposed to being opened through the browser like a web application. Kinda cool.

Would Google Chrome eat up market share from other browsers?

Probably, to a certain extent. Personally, I can’t see myself abandoning Firefox and IE 6, at least not for now. Like many, I use multiple computers. One of them has Google Chrome installed, more out of curiosity rather than a pressing need. As far as I can tell, there is no compelling reason to move to Chrome (unless you are tech junkie), at least not yet.

What is the future of Chrome?

It will be interesting to see where Google goes with this product in the future, particularly because there is no compelling need to move to Chrome in its current form. I suspect there is more exciting technology in the pipeline (on the web apps front) and the present-day Chrome is only scratching the surface of what is possible with the new approach to the browser.

The fact that it is completely open source is certainly in sync with Google’s “do no evil” motto and might spurn some innovation from the Open Source community.

Given that Google has a war chest of cash, its engineers can endlessly amuse themselves with cool new technologies (good for them!). But it remains to be seen if there is a revenue model (either direct or in-direct) of some sort lurking somewhere in the distant future. Or is Google simply trying to steal some of Microsoft’s IE 8.0 thunder?

Like many Google products, the Chrome is one more product that is high on the “coolness” factor.

Web application developers have one more headache to deal with — Testing for one more browser and its various flavors!

p.s: Btw, I used Google Chrome to download IE 8.0. My first impression was that it still feels a lot like IE 7.0. So I promptly unistalled it given that I hardly got to like IE 7.0. When I first tried to uninstall IE 7.0 (and return to IE 6.) it was a complete nightmare. So maybe IE 8.0 is not bad, after all 🙂

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