OPINION: Still searching for reasons to switch to Google Chrome

Columns & Opinion, Internet, Software

switching-to-google-chrome.jpgYesterday – and this is not a joke about how sad my life is, it’s the honest-to-Betsy truth – I decided to make the switch and start using Google Chrome as my default browser.

I’d decided the night before, in fact. I was, sadly, really quite excited about the prospect of turning over a new leaf or, to update the phrase, starting a new session. Doing a fresh install of my life and switching from Firefox to Chrome.

I like Chrome. It works, it’s already imported all my passwords and bookmarks for me and it’s nicely laid out, so I might as well use it as my default browser. It’ll be quite painless.

Turned out it was also quite pointless…

I’ve since realised just how few original bits Chrome actually has. The first thing that WOWED me when I fired it up for the first time on launch day was its bookmarks toolbar. What a brilliant idea! All your bookmarks, right there! Available with a single click! This will shave seconds off every browsing task! How can no one have thought of this before?

Only that’s been a Firefox feature for years. Firefox thought of it before. I’d just turned off the bookmarks toolbar and forgotten it ever existed. Fortunately, I found this fact out in private before embarrassing myself on the internet by mentioning Chrome’s amazing new bookmark system that will revolutionise browsing overnight.

Secondly, when exploring Chrome on launch day, I noticed you could highlight some text and right click on it, bringing up the option to “Search Google for…” the highlighted words. Another fantastic Google Chrome innovation!

Only I just checked. That’s part of Firefox too. Again, thankfully, I worked this out myself in private before posting about it on the internet like it’s some amazing invention that Google should to be praised for.

So, that was my two big reasons for switching to Chrome gone. I am not an application developer, so JavaScript stability is not a big issue to me. I can’t tell you how little JavaScript stability matters to me. I’m as bothered about JavaScript stability as I am how the price of oil is affecting the price of ladies’ tights. If my browser crashes, I’ll start it up again. It really isn’t a big deal.

The only thing left to draw me Chrome-wards is the screen layout and all the “real estate” freed up by the way Chrome elevates its tabs into the Bit Of The Screen Which Thou Shalt Not Use. In Firefox, having the bookmarks toolbar and all the tabs in view makes the thing look a mess and a bit too busy. That’s one small victory for the Chrome side of my brain.

So, late afternoon (on work time, sorry everyone) I decided to see if you could rearrange Firefox to make look a bit like Chrome. And you pretty much can – I now have the Firefox bookmark bar up alongside the menu options, keeping the screen large while also giving me instant bookmark access.

It’s a little messier than the Chrome way, but copies the functionality perfectly. So, at approximately 3.30pm yesterday afternoon, I officially switched back to Firefox as primary browser of choice, after, ironically, fiddling with it to make it look as much like Chrome as possible.

Sorry if this has been a rather boring update that goes into way too much detail about what my browser looks like and how it’s laid out, but I’d imagine it’s a journey a lot of people are going through right now. Searching. Looking for reasons to bother switching to Chrome, wondering if there’s some awesome, secret stuff behind it that makes changing make sense.

I have no answers or reasons for you. All Google’s effort has done is left me appreciating Firefox even more, and extra-extra confused about why Google has gone to so much effort to put out a product so incredibly similar to its rivals.

So thanks very much, Google. You’ve made me bring my browsing habits bang up to date. I’ll remember to click on a few of your adverts some time as a thank you.

Gary Cutlack
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  • Overall I like the browser but the book mark system is horrible.
    It may be great for children but it doesn’t work at all for me.
    I really don’t like the idea of having to go to the “home page” to access the book marks, which incidentally are not even organized into folders.

    If they would simply put an icon in the browser that says something like “book marks” and then have a drop down menu similar to every other browser I would be happy and ready to switch to Chrome today.

  • In my case, I didn’t made it my default browser. i just use it to view additional gmail accounts along with another gmail account open in IE and FF.

  • Like Mr C said, Google Chrome can’t get around a Hosts file. Google “Hosts file” and never be bothered by adverts again. It’s like a system-wide spam-blocker that works regardless which browser you use.

  • Google Chrome,……..They have, at considerable expense, build a new browser that is said to be secure. The browser is effectively isolated from the system it’s installed on, protecting it from harm they tell us,….. but the reason for doing so is about money,…..I think that so many of us are using browser add-ons and protections to filter out advertisements that they needed a way to get the advertisements back in front of our eyes. Chrome displays everything and there is no way to filter adds out and probably never will be. Google makes it’s money on advertisements and protecting them makes sense from their point of view I would think. It’s all about revenue, and maybe the more efficiant collection of data.

  • Well, since you asked 😉
    Basically application shortcuts hide the browser element that’s between you and ‘the cloud’.
    So Gmail, Google Docs, Google Maps etc. just sit on your desktop and start up with much of the browser functionality removed and your screen real estate increased. This doesn’t look like much but it has massive implications, e.g. for hardware, OSs and software vendors. Less bloat, more free stuff! Okay, maybe I’m being a wee bit simplistic there ^_^
    For IP blocking under Windows I’d go for PeerGuardian2, just select the ‘Ads’ list, it’s regularly updated. The P2P list is damned handy too…

  • Chrome’s ‘awesome bar’ is awesomer than Firefox’s, but no doubt Firefox will soon catch up.
    Chrome’s application shortcuts are ahead of all other browsers as far as I know, and probably The Way Of The Future (TM).
    Chrome’s task manager and sandboxing are so far ahead of Internet Exploder I almost feel sorry for M$. Almost.
    But I’m still using Firefox.
    Why? NoScript, AdBlock, GMail Manager and Weave. And Netvibes eventually grinds to a halt under Chrome.
    But I fully expect that 10 years (or less) from now browsers other than Chrome will be looked on like Netscape is now…

    • I don’t even know what an “application shortcut” is or why I’d need one.

      Have I become my dad already?

      A decent HOSTS file filters out adverts even on Chrome, that much I do know.

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