Thursday, September 4, 2008

Browser Wars -- the New Kid in Town

Google has jumped into the browser wars with their own new browser, Chrome.  I've been testing it a bit and I'm favorably impressed.

The most obvious improvement is speed.  It is definitely one of the fastest -- if not the fastest.  Pages come up with surprising speed.

I also like the automatic search function:  type in your search terms in the address bar and it will do a Google search (by default) for the words.  However, you can specify other searches by It will also fill in the web address as you type. 

imageThe interface may take some getting used to. It has no menu options.  The top of the browser shows tabs, and there are only a limited number of icons (4-5) to choose from.  Your bookmarks toolbar also shows up.  Bookmarks are on a dropdown list at the right.

Another nice feature of Chrome is the built-in spellcheck (also in Firefox).  It also handles tabs very logically.

Chrome uses for a default page a variation on Opera's Speed Dial option. In Opera, you select up to nine pages to display when you open a tab; Chrome just takes the most popular items in your browsing history.  Easy to use, but I can see issues if you want a particular page showing up even though you visit it less often than others.

On the down side, Chrome has very limited user customization; only Safari is worse.  It also doesn't seem to support RSS feeds and I've been having some problems accessing some websites (one refuses to accept my login -- it's a site where different users have different preferences; I can log on, but when I try to go to the private areas, it doesn't work). I'm also having problems with some Java pages.

Last year, I checked out and compared the various web browsers and listed the features I wanted in my ideal browser.  Chrome has an impressive number of the features on that list.  It still needs work, but so far I like it better than MSIE or Safari, and it's pushing Firefox, and even Opera (my favorite) a bit.