So, before Oracle launches its kit for web and desktop, Google has announced the launch of its own browser – Chrome. Heavily using the technologies from Webkit (Apple) and Firefox, this browser will be open-for-source. But, the question is – why another browser?
I think Google now arrogantly realizes that the ‘web’ and especially the ‘search’ territory are mostly monopolized by Google Inc’s products. In addition to the search business, Google has worked quite aggressively, during last 3-4 years, to capture other territories which have larger hit counts. For example, blog, docs, payment gateway, social networks, mail, chat, open source codes, albums, news, software packs, and most recently, Knol (Google’s version of Wikipedia). Google has been exclusively promoting Firefox browser (as referrals or Google packs) since few years. So, Google has realized, assuming that netizens worldwide use Google products extensively, why should they use other browsers and why should Google still promote Firefox. Additionally, when Microsoft launched IE 7, it explicitly promoted Windows Live Search through its web browser (quite natural to Microsoft). Though, later Microsoft had to accommodate other providers after Google cried out loud. Now Microsoft has launched newer version of Internet Explorer, IE 8, which is Beta 2 release. In Internet Explorer 8, the search box has two listed search providers – MS Live and Google. But, the default search provider is the Microsoft Live. If a user is such naive that she doesn’t care about which provider is she is using and she only cares about searching the web, she will obviously use Windows Live Search instead of Google Search. Though Microsoft doesn’t violate the legal matters here, it definitely tries to outcast other competitive products in its own products. In recent times, Google-Microsoft war increased more after Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt offered his open support to Jerry Yung, during the much louder episode of Microsoft’s bid to buy Yahoo. With the launch of Google’s own web browser, one can expect this tussle to continue further. For now, I will wait for the responses of Microsoft and also, Mozilla. Also, how much hiccup is coming on the way of developers who will have another browser in which to test their web applications to make sure of browser compatibilities.
There is one pretty interesting part of this launch. For the first time, I have seen an entire comic book launched to promote a product and make users understand all know-hows of it. Google’s Chrome comic book describes most marketable features of the browser graphically. And I think it is really interesting. Read the Chrome comic book here. This is one such cool strategy which is going to be really popular in the marketing world.
As far as the coolness of Google is concerned, not everybody is impressed with it. One of them is Sergey Solyanik who just left Google to join Microsoft after his one-year stint at Google. After he left Google, he wrote a post about it on his blog. Here is what he has to say about the coolness at Google:-
The culture part is very important here – you can spend more time fixing bugs, you can introduce processes to improve things, but it is very, very hard to change the culture. And the culture at Google values ‘coolness’ tremendously, and the quality of service not as much. At least in the places where I worked.
Since I’ve been an infrastructure person for most of my life, I value reliability far, far more than ‘coolness’, so I could never really learn to love the technical work I was doing at Google. I was using Google software – a lot of it – in the last year, and slick as it is, there’s just too much of it that is regularly broken. It seems like every week 10% of all the features are broken in one or the other browser. And it’s a different 10% every week – the old bugs are getting fixed, the new ones introduced. This across Blogger, Gmail, Google Docs, Maps, and more.
So, let’s see how this coolness-vs-reliability works with the product where it matters the most. Here is the download link for the Chrome browser.
As of now, when I am using Google Chrome, it seems a nice experience. Let me summarize the features of Chrome that I experienced so far. Very sleek and cool design, faster, doesn’t cover too much window space (vertically you only have two rows of controls – one for tabs and another for address bar et al, in spite of other browsers where the toolbar stuffs eat almost 25% of your window’s vertical space), and so on. In terms of coolness, Google really rocks and Chrome holds the similar promises. Nevertheless, the first thing which catches you eyes is its design and transitions. Other nice features are – download files feature, incognito window (no cookie or history will be recorded for a site opened in this window), developers panel, address bar which also works as search bar and taking suggestions from history/bookmarks/Google suggestions, etc. Furthermore, the greatest of them all is that all tabs run as different processes (or programs). This significantly improves speed and security. Speed because you can monitor and manage which tab is consuming much CPU and memory. The task manager of browser shows the CPU and Memory usages of each tab (hence, website opened in those tabs). In your ‘windows task manager’ also, each tab appears as different processes. So, you can kill those killer processes anytime you feel some trouble. Security because, the tabs are not allowed to communicate with other tabs or the computer. This means, all malwares will have no ability to enter into other territories. For the rest of the user experiences, I found many of the features of Safari and Firefox in Chrome. But then, Google has already announced that it has used Webkit (mother of Apple’s Safari) and Firefox quite extensively. So, for that, we can forgive Google.
Indeed, there are also some lack of features for users and hiccups for developers. From user’s point of view, bookmark manager, full screen control, and page magnifier are absent. As far as the technical hiccups are concerned, its too early to find them out. But, within two hours of usage, I found two errors and both of them are related this blog of mine. First, the double click dictionary feature (after you select a word and double click it, a window opens which go to freedictionary explaining everything about the word, ie, dictionary, synonyms, history, abbreviations, etc). Second, FCKeditor, a very popular and free web-based text editor, which I used in my blog’s admin module, doesn’t work at all. When I opened the admin part, I could see the text area where it supposed to have the editor in place. These are only two as of now, but again, these were quite trivial to me. And that results to that I can’t scrap other browsers and use Chrome only. I am sure I am going to find other bugs or limitations in the browse as I use it more in coming days.
On the other note, here is an interesting comic book series, Silicon Apartment, featuring Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and occasionally Steve Ballmer. Pretty hilarious, must read!!
Talking of Bill Gates, let’s refresh our memories, laugh off, and call it a day. Heh!
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Chrome logo source: Google. BSOD Images sources: Google Images, dansdata.com