Google is upping the ante on pretty much every major producer of operating systems and web technologies. The release of Google Chrome might not have been as ground-shattering as a lot of people of made it out to be, but it was certainly a clear message that Google was taking the control of the web seriously. The announcement of Chrome OS has ruffled even more feathers and set the rumor mills to work overtime and if you like around the web you’ll see all sorts of opinions regarding the whole situation. I’ve previously said that I wasn’t ready to take a side until I saw an actual release of Chrome OS and decided firsthand if it met my needs. I’m going to stand by my word and for the time being at least my browser of choice is still Firefox on all platforms. Here’s why:
Chrome is growing support for extensions and I hear they’re going to be really easy to make. But it’s going to be a while before they catch the community support that already exists around Firefox. I use a number of extensions on a regular basis including Zotero, the Diigo toolbar, Twitterfox and Down Them All. Some of these extensions allow me to use stand-alone web applications, but without actually visiting the website (Twitterfox and the Diigo bar). Others let me easily perform common web-related tasks without requiring a separate program (FireFTP and FireBug). Some of these could easily be their own programs, but even compared to full desktop equivalents, they are outstanding tools (Zotero). Equally important are more experimental extensions like Mozilla’s Weave and Ubiquity tools. These are still experimental tools but already provide useful functionality that I think I’m going to use more and more as they mature. Until Chrome can sport equally compelling and useful tools, I’ll stay put.
2. I don’t use Windows all that much
My use of Windows varies from about once a month to once a week. My computer time is divided almost equally between OS X and Linux. Though the open source component of Chrome compiles and runs of both of them, they are still far from complete. I don’t mind trying out something experimental to get the feel for it (or if I have an active interest in it), but considering that Firefox already offers a high quality browsing experience already, I don’t see a need to switch.
3. I don’t quite agree with the ‘every tab is a process’ model
A large part of Chrome’s innovation is in treating the browser more like an operating system and each tab as an separate web application. While this is probably a good idea in terms of safety and reliability, it also turns the browser into a very memory heavy application. Combine that with Vista’s own inefficiencies and the fact I often run other heavy programs (compilers, IDEs and the like), I really want my browser to not take up more memory than it has to. As the article I linked to shows, Firefox does much better in memory terms than other popular browsers. The number of web applications that I leave open for any period of time are trusted applications and most of them do not stay open for more than an hour or so at a time so I’m not sure I need a full multiprocess browser for now.
4. Firefox is catching up
5. Chrome still has bugs that need fixing
While Chrome sports some great new technologies, there are still some problems that really need to be fixed. In particular, there are issues with image sizing (that I saw while viewing this blog with Chrome). As well as issues with the implementation of the HTML 5 canvas tag. The later is especially important to get right as it’s going to be really important for the future of web apps. One example that I think will become really important is the Bespin code editor which doesn’t work right under Chrome (and not all under Chromium). Until these bugs get fixed, I’m not going to be able consider moving to Chrome for full time use.