Genii Weblog

The amazingly little I know (or need to) about Chrome

Tue 2 Sep 2008, 08:13 AM

by Ben Langhinrichs
I really only know two things:

1) I actually learned about Chrome from the New York Times this morning, which either indicates they have kept a tight lid on it or they I have had better things to do than stay on top of every news story in the IT world.  I'd prefer to think the latter.

2) I have little interest in trying it.  

My second point may seem an odd response given my appalling ignorance of the browser and its capabilities as shown in my first point, but I think they are consistent.  I am not interested in moving into the camp of yet corporate behemoth that wants to control my experience.  Google has tried very hard to be cooler than Microsoft, but they are still a corporate behemoth that is seeking to control the web.  While I am a strong believer in the value of commercial software, the web and its access have become too vital to allow one company to control too much.  While Google says that Chrome is open source, it is still highly controlled by one company.  My experience with the open standards war that broke out last year over ODF and OOXML makes me very wary of succumbing to the enticement of the Googleplex.  Search is one thing, but Search/Mail/Office/Browser/etc./etc. is feeling dangerously close to monopoly, or an attempt at it. If Chrome is truly open source, and if it has features that appeal to people, Firefox can add those features, and I can use them that way.

Aren't we beyond flocking to the monolith, no matter how shiny and new it appears?

Copyright © 2008 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

707.1. Anonymous Coward
(09/02/2008 05:50 AM)

Firefox cannot easily add features like a different renderer (WebKit) and multi threaded/multi process working. Chrome is very different in architecture than Firefox. I believe it is good to have an open source browser alternative to Firefox.

707.2. Ben Langhinrichs
(09/02/2008 05:54 AM)

@Anonymous Coward - I think that is a fair point, and I love competition. I just wish the "open source browser alternative" was not controlled by a single company, and especially not a company which has shown such a propensity for controlling every aspect of our on-line experience. It is not that I blame Google, just that I don't want to get sucked in.

707.3. Kevin Pettitt
(09/02/2008 05:58 AM)

I heard about it on NPR this morning. Two things struck me the "report":

1) The "rich client" capabilities makes Chrome, at least on paper, an obvious competitor to Lotus Notes as well as regular browsers.

2) The news was framed as an attempt to steal market share from Microsoft, with zero mention of Firefox.

Me thinks NPR needs a technology editor who can do more than regurgitate a press release.

707.4. Charles Robinson
(09/02/2008 06:22 AM)

It's less about flocking to Google because it's Google and more about finding a browser that doesn't suck. Firefox crashes because every tab is in a single process. One tab goes wonky and it takes the entire browser with it. Javascript is slow (in all browsers) because of how the VM is traditionally implemented. Google Chrome is created to address both these issues. Yes, it uses Gears, but Firefox uses its own proprietary extensions and IE uses ActiveX (and Silverlight). I really don't see Google trying to control the user experience any more than any other browser vendor does.

The browser standard wars have been fought for a very long time, and are going to continue to wage until developers finally abandon browsers that aren't standards compliant. Given that neither of the two major browsers are fully standards compliant -- and they implement standards in different ways -- that's a tough spot to be in. I hope Google comes in and shakes things up.

707.5. Vitor Pereira
(09/02/2008 06:23 AM)

Ditto on all counts. Enough.

707.6. Vitor Pereira
(09/02/2008 06:26 AM)

Oh and don't forget they want in on your cell phone via too.

707.7. Peter von Stöckel
(2008-09-02 07:47)

It is always dangerous when one company tries to corner the market, no matter what that market is. Google will obviously stand to gain a lot if their browser becomes popular, but considering it will be open source, I think that's less of a danger.

Having said that, I will definitely try their browser, and see what it can do. If it lives up to the promises, I would consider switching from Firefox.

707.8. Scott Marchione
(09/02/2008 08:36 AM)

I think that most people are missing the point (IMHO) of the post. It's not that Google is trying to get you to switch to their browser, it's that they want you to use Google for everything. Your browser, your productivity software, your local computer search, your web search, your mobile maps, your book reviews, your email, your photo's.... do you get the drift? From what I've seen so far of the browser it seems to have all the functionality of Firefox 3, with the addition of making each tab a separate process, which will lead me to not like it as my computer is slow enough without having 16-25 additional processes running just because I'm reading all the stuff I missed from over the weekend.

707.9. Niklas Waller
(2008-09-02 09:09)

What's the problem?

Either you use Google's applications or you don't. If Google didn't provide them someone else would or we wouldn't see them at all.

I think they stand for new thinking and new technology and we are all able to use it for free. I also think it's great to actually be able to have access to all my data and applications that I need to use with only one login.

If you are afraid of someone else taking control of your information I guess for example webmail is not of interest at all. Or? And would it really be better to have all these apps spread out over several sites/companies instead?

707.10. Ben Langhinrichs
(09/02/2008 10:51 AM)

@Scott - Exactly what I am saying.

@Niklas - Comfortable with Microsoft's virtual monopoly? Why not? Google is a profit-oriented corporation, which is not a problem, obviously, but the more of a lock they have on all the content and all the applications and all the access, the more likely that some day they will make a profit more directly, and by that time, what other choices will be out there? That is how Microsoft got where they are, and all the griping in the world has not loosened their hold that much. I'd rather not let another company get that hold.

Obviously, if customers use the browser, I'll need to support it, but I support I.E.6 without really using it much.