Google released their first web browser yesterday called “Chrome”. This web browser has some new advancements and will perform much faster than IE and Firefox according to their marketing material (in the form of a comic book). Being the skeptic I am, I thought I would download it and give it a test run.
As I discussed in this post on how I surf, I use the FireFox browser which I estimate is the most popular browser for most PF bloggers and serious surfers. The release of IE7, which included tabs, closed a lot of the gap between IE and Firefox but for most people who already use Firefox, there was no reason to switch to IE. Keep in mind that I’m talking about a select group of surfers – probably 95% of surfers will use either IE6 or IE7 – whichever is installed in their computer.
photo by Incase Designs
Downloading and setting up Chrome
A download link for the beta version of Chrome is on the main google page or you can go here for the download. The download file is the installer and downloads almost immediately. After clicking on the exe file, it took about about 60 seconds to completely load up the browser. Total time spent so far is about 2 minutes.
How does it look?
Like the Google homepage, the Chrome browser is fairly clean. One of the efforts with this browser has been to decrease the clutter at the top of the screen – unfortunately I don’t have pic to show you but since it only takes a minute or two to load the thing – go look for yourself! 🙂 I would estimate that the non-surfing area is about half as large with Chrome compared to my version of Firefox. Of course your own customizations of Firefox could change this ratio greatly. The page tabs are right at the top of the screen where there is normally the title bar and there is no separate search box since the address box and search box are one and the same. It will take a bit of getting used to but it looks pretty good.
Chrome vs. Firefox speed
To test the speed I just did some simple browsing (ie opening a bunch of sites at once) and compared the speeds. Of course this test isn’t all that valid since it should be run on a clean test machine but since I was testing for my personal use – it’s valid enough for me!
First run – Chrome was incredibly fast. I was quite amazed at how fast it was until I looked at the browser results and I realized that most of the sites in the test folder required a sign in which Chrome couldn’t do yet – obviously this invalidated the first run. I went through the tabs and logged in – most of the tabs had the info in the sign-in screen but I still had to press “ok”.
After that I did some surfing and tried to determine if one browser was significantly faster than the other. The truth is that I really couldn’t tell the difference – because of the poor testing conditions and numerous variables which I couldn’t control, both browsers appeared fast and slow at different times. Things like slow websites, my own internet connection (which is not all that constant) served to interfere with the tests as well as point out that even if one browser is faster, it might not matter that much for my normal surfing.
One of the neat new features of Chrome is the ability to turn on a “incognito” mode (click on the Control Current Page icon and select Incognito) which means that your browser will not keep any trace of your browsing history. I can’t imagine why *cough – adult* anyone would possibly *cough – situational* have any motivation *cough – photography* for such a strange thing but I’m sure some enterprising surfers will find a use for it.
I found Chrome to be a pretty good browser, but I don’t know if I will switch from Firefox or not since it doesn’t appear to be all that different other than the looks. I would imagine that a Firefox user who has a lot of plugins would find it difficult to leave for a new browser and would have to start over. Personally, I haven’t gotten around to installing any plugins so that is not a factor for me.