Google Chrome? Nah, we don’t need another hero

Dear visitor: Please keep in mind that this post is originally from Vibor Cipan's personal blog, the name of which we eventually adopted as our company name together with its conveniently-named URL. We're keeping the posts on our official company blog for all the subscribers to Vibor's blog who have read and commented on his previous posts. Please be aware that this post represents Vibor's personal thinking few years ago and doesn't necessarily represent the opinions of the UX Passion as a company today. 

Already dubbed by some as an Internet Explorer or even Windows Killer, Google’s Chrome is just web browser – nothing more, nothing less. If Chrome was just Chrome, without Google’s name on it – no one  would ever pay attention on it.

So what is it all about?

Google was consistent (note the sarcasm) for years telling that it does not have any plans for developing web browser (or operating system), and just few days ago – Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder said: “It just happened to migrate from being false to being true.”

Well, result of that migration is Google Chrome – first web browser created by Google and released to public as a beta for now. It’s open source, it has some nice JavaScript improvements, and it’s a browser. Dull, without anything appealing, with user interface that tries to pride itself in simplicity but fails because of lack of anything really appealing within it… I’ll tell you right now – stick to Internet Explorer 8 or Firefox 3 – Chrome doesn’t bring anything new.

Chrome is a browser that no one would ever pay attention to if it had not have Google name on it. It prides itself with features already found in all major web browsers – and does that in a way that user can think that all those features were invented by Chrome.

Here are just few of them:

Google: Today, most of what we use the web for on a day-to-day basis aren’t just web pages. They’re applications. Wrong! We are still using web pages with HTML, DHTML, JavaScript and stuff like that. JavaScript is way slower when compared to C# or basically any code that is running on OS. And yes – all programming logic is being executed at web servers – not trough the web browser – therefore – we are only watching results, presentation layer – not applications.

Google: The Gears guys were thinking about multi-threaded browser (…) what if we have multiple processes? Each having its own memory and its own copy of the global data structures. The IE guys were thinking about that one too. And guess what – you already have that in Internet Explorer 8. Exactly the same thing – only without Gears guys involved.

Google: Omnibox handles far more than just URL’s. It also offers suggestions for searches, top pages you’ve visited before, pages you haven’t visited but are popular and more… Firefox’s Awesome bar does that too. So does the Internet Explorer’s Address bar. And they’ve been doing that before Google Chrome.

Google: Google Chrome has a privacy mode. You can create “incognito” window and nothing that occurs in that window is ever logged on your computer. Internet Explorer 8 comes with InPrivate – pretty much the same thing. Safari has something like that too. But yeah – with Google Chrome – wheel is being reinvented.

Also, Chrome is using rendering engine WebKit, but there is no support for embedded fonts declared trough using @font-face in CSS. Chrome will download referenced font but it is not going to display it.

Something that really bothers me – Google Chrome sucks at handling zoom. If you decide to zoom in on some web page like you can do it in Firefox and Internet Explorer, you will get surprised (Google breaks the principle of least astonishment) – images and everything else on the web page will remain intact – only text will be resized. For example, if you are looking at web page that is 1000 pixels wide and use Chrome to zoom in, it will stay 1000 pixels wide no matter what you do – only the text will react on your actions.

And, of course – there is huge privacy issue – something that Google really sucks at these days. And this time it sucks even more. Don’t be evil – Google says. This time – they should listen to themselves.

At the end, I will go and cite Associated Press:

While Chrome’s performance is a little better than that of Firefox, in practical terms, it is far less useful, because it lacks the broad array of third-party add-ons programs like Flashblock that make Firefox so customizable. With time, it might catch up, but in the meantime, I’d recommend giving the new Internet Explorer a spin.

So do I.

Comments (4)

  1. I agree that we don’t really need another browser hero wannabe. But then I doubt that this, in itself, has been Google’s aim. More likely it is part of larger, longer term effort to mine more user data than cookies can provide, and generally expand–as we should expect–the roll of the browser, from web “page” viewer, to web application platform. The latter I, for one, generally applaud, and think Google more trustworthy than others, if not completely so. The timing of Chrome’s release, however, seems to indicate a half-hearted effort. And this appears to be a trend: Google seems to have spread itself so very wide across projects, and thinly, that momentum for products such as Chrome is uninspiring, as a result. Its early giddiness and sense of infallibility seems to be waning, finally. Time will tell if they can regain focus… on something.

  2. I really do agree with you. You are making good point stating that timing might be indication of half-hearted effort and that it it really looks like trend.

    But as you said, time will tell, and we will be watching what is going on.

  3. I believe that now, three-and-a-half years after this blog post was written, the Google Chrome deserves to have its evaluation re-assessed. Maybe in a form of another blog post?

    • I can safely say that this “prediction” was one of my biggest misses in career. Today, Chrome is my default browser and I think that’s more than enough for new evaluation :)


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