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How I First Hated Google Chrome

Posted by Sravan | September 3, 2008 .

… and then fell in love with it.

I’m sure most of you are looking at this post tepidly having already read tomes about Google Chrome. Don’t worry; I have a feeling this will be different. There aren’t many stories about returning from the dark side.

When I first heard about Chrome and saw its screenshots, I didn’t (don’t) like the blurry blue. Within hours of the release of Google Chrome, I half-heartedly downloaded the installer on my laptop. (I hate installers that download the setup file and then install on their own.) I dislike that Google doesn’t allow users to specify the installation directory in Gtalk, and now in Chrome.

The installation completed successfully, and “the application failed to initialize properly blah blah blah” error message popped up. All I could browse was the “Aw, Snap!” page and there really isn’t much to read in it. I uninstalled and reinstalled the software twice more without any progress except in my disappointment. I traced the whereabouts of the directory to manually clean it up, and was (am) vexed on finding that it is installed in “$USERPROFILE\Local Settings\Application Data\Google”.

Who the duck installs a software in a hidden folder? The folder was over 40MB in size! Nearly twice Firefox. There are few customizations, few buttons, no menu bars, the list goes.

That was when I decided to write Chrome off as a damp squib and wait to read its obituary the next day. Internet Explorer 8 Beta is fine and the final release will be better, I told myself. Chrome won’t stand a chance to beat IE’s competition; it might at most chew off some users using Firefox. (“Friendly-fire”, several fellow writers have been calling it.) Consider this: IE is the way over three-fourths of the Internet users browse.

Several hours later (one hour before this post), I became impulsive enough to try installing Chrome on my desktop. Thankfully. Not only does the browser work, but it now rises astronomically in my eyes. Enough story. Let me touch upon four salient features of Google Chrome. 

1. Speed: I didn’t measure it, but it really is faster than other browsers. Pages full of images load in a jiffy. Websites with heavy RIAs (like myGameBuilder.com, PlayCrafter.com, Flex.org/showcase, listen.grooveshark.com) when loaded all at once didn’t hang the system nor the browser. Firefox performed respectably well in a similar experiment, but suffocated when tabs were switched. In general, Flash movies seemed to take more or less the same time as in Firefox.

2. Task Manager: The task manager within the browser allows great control over various components present in the tabs. It is easy to identify what you need to kill, if you should. This is also necessary because all these tabs (for the uninformed, each tab is a different process in Chrome), and the browser itself are represented by a “chrome.exe” process name in the Windows Task Manager.

3. Inspect Element: This feature allows you to inspect various elements and resources within the page. I think it will come handy to those who create web pages, especially useful for the beginners. I haven’t seen a better way to identify and learn about the fields that make up a web page. It was like a read-only IDE (*).

4. Incognito: Let me repeat it. Incognito, Incognito, Incognito. This is real! I indexed my system before the experiment (using Cygwin’s updatedb). I found a few keywords that didn’t pre-exist in the database and opened websites that had those phrases. Indexing (and searching for the keywords) during and after the Incognito browsing returned no results. Magic!

The browser wars have officially begun.

* I say read-only because Google Chrome seems to be unable to handle editing. I tried writing this post through the browser, and it voided every line-break, every italic, every bold.

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12 Comments so far
  1. media boy  September 3, 2008 9:02 am

    i’m willing to try it out just to see if it works more efficiently than FireFox… if it’s faster than Firefox and isn’t IE, then i’ll use it

  2. Jack B  September 3, 2008 10:03 am

    Indeed Chrome is super fast. Wondering how Goolge will be building the ecosystem, plugins, as firefox have done. If I won’t leave firefox the only reason would be the bunch of plugin I’ve be enjoying everyday.

  3. castever  September 3, 2008 3:46 pm

    I’ve downloaded it and tried it; the main benefit I see is the separate processes for each tab to prevent crashes. I don’t really notice any speed increase. If anything, it is slower than firefox. I’m not opposed to Chrome; just not impressed enough to use it as my browser.

  4. Zippy  September 3, 2008 9:36 pm

    I installed Chrome, then uninstalled it after about 20 minutes. What I cannot stand is a software manufacturer dumbing down it’s software so that people who don’t know enough about their systems (read: whiney Vista newbs) can install it without really having to think about it. I don’t care how good a software is, if it usurps my control over my own computer system, it gets removed. How about, oh, I don’t know, including an option for us to install wherever the hell we want to? I’ll stick with Opera & Firefox, thank you.

  5. Richard  September 4, 2008 12:46 am

    I uninstall Chrome after several hours of work. There is no support for Java Applets (and I use VNC client via browser). More important is behaviour during development with Adobe Flex. Every bigger action in Flex (open Popup window) was CPU consuming (but no for Flash player but for Chrome process).

  6. Sravan  September 4, 2008 5:11 am

    It is definitely worth a try, Media boy.

    Jack B, I guess extensibility with plug-ins won’t be very difficult thanks to Google Gears.

    I’m with you about the forcible control that Google is trying to have on these simple things, Zippy. You must’ve read about the new EULA controversy. http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080903-google-on-chrome-eula-controversy-our-bad-well-change-it.html

    Google is very much like Apple in some ways. (Including GoogleUpdate.exe always running in the background.) While I don’t use iTunes or any other Apple software (because of viable alternatives), Chrome is attractive in its (apparent) superiority. Only time will tell. And I hope Google will learn by then. :-)

    Sorry to hear that, Richard. I guess developers will have to stick to Firefox for the time being. I doubt if even the actual Chrome (non-beta) release will be good enough for development.

  7. Moxie  September 4, 2008 9:40 am

    I’m still playing Chrom.

    I think Google would rather not call it a “browser” if they could, but they have to. What Google is trying to do is not offering a free killer browser to kill bunch of other browsers (free or not). The Chrome to Google is something like the very earlier age of Adobe Flex, it’s an application development/deployment platform that Google will be using to further control the web, the mobile (Chrome in Android is in talking) and who-knows-else.

    Chrome is an application “VM” for both on and offline web applications. Chrome is the front-end or client platform for the invisible Google OS. Chrome is the preparation for what Google called web 3.0.

    But Chrome has to start at some where more publicly acceptable. Browser is a smart place to be for that. I think from now one, all Google would do with Chrome is to brain washing people to shift the mind set from browsing to tasking on the internet.

    So, what Google hasn’t told us is, Chrome is not a browser, a browser you would think or compare with.</p></p>

  8. Sony  September 16, 2008 10:23 am

    what is the frontend(GUI) technology used in google chrome, gtalk etc?

  9. Sony  September 16, 2008 10:24 am

    what is the frontend(GUI) technology used in google chrome, gtalk etc? is it flex?

  10. Robbie  September 17, 2008 3:54 pm

    Google Chrome is faster than IE, FireFox, Opera, Safari, all those. It’s a great browser, although it lacks in features and compatibility.

    The speed alone makes me use Google Chrome.

  11. asr  August 31, 2010 4:05 am

    Failed to resolve aw sanp resolving host. Tried all the tricks available on the net. Finally I am giving up. Bye bye chorme.

  12. asr  August 31, 2010 4:06 am

    FAILED TO RESOLVE AW SNAP. I TRIED ALL THE TRICKS AVAILABLE ON THE NET. BYE BYE CHROME.

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