Thursday 4 September 2008

First Thoughts on Google Chrome Browser

    When I heard of a new browser from Google, I got too excited to have a look. I was waiting for the download link to be enabled. Google Chrome, though in beta, should beat Firefox and IE hands down. Or so, was my impression.

    Finally, when the download link was available, I did manage to download the installer. Weighing just 475KB, I was surprised and thought only Google can pull out such a lightweight and feature-rich product. All this frenzy was to last only till I started to run the installer. Because, only then did I realise that I had downloaded only a stub, and the actual installable is hidden from the user. The usage of an installation stub was a deviation from the other Google products – Talk, Picasa, Desktop, which allow the user to install the software offline.

    At the first look, the "New Tab" page is a good design. It lists the most frequently used items - along with a thumbnail, the bookmarks, and the recently closed tabs. Chrome integrates the address bar and search bar into one. The argument is that you now need one bar to search either the web or your history. But there is a contradiction because they have added a new box to search the history items!! Other than this contradiction, the combined search bar (erstwhile address bar) is a failure to me, since it intertwines history (URL) results with suggestion terms for a Google search. Unless these two are displayed with a clear separator, it is a clear no-no for me.

    How does it perform? The Chrome browser runs a process for the main browser and opens every tab in a separate process. The intension is that if one tab crashes, the whole browser application need not come down. But, this fails miserably with memory management. On most PCs, you will find a notable reduction in the performance once you open 5-6 tabs. Now that's another disappointment!!

    There's a new feature to open a link in a incognito window. Data related to pages that are open in the incognito window are not stored on the local machine. So, you won't find that item in history, and no password or cookies are going to be stored for pages opened from that window. For me, it's not a useful feature, since my browsing of the web is restricted to safe-sites!!

    And since it's a new browser, there is still no support for download managers, or any other such add-ins. This is completely understandable for a beta of a new software, but surprisingly, Chrome supports only the scroll down from a scroll device, but not scroll up!!

Recommendation: Wait for a while till the browser improves, and you have some useful add-ons. Remember, nobody likes the Firefox browser without the add-ons!!

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