Google Chrome: My two penn’th

Published September 3rd, 2008

OK, everyone’s talking about Google’s ‘new’ browser (check out the comic for an easy introduction) and everyone’s going to have an opinion. Here’s mine, based on a few hours’ use.

First (and lasting) impression: damn, it’s fast. It starts fast, it renders pages fast, it stays fast. JavaScript in particular is noticeably smoother where in other browsers it has lagged. The latter is thanks to the new V8 JavaScript engine, the rest is at least partly related to the memory model, where each tab is a completely separate process. Given that it’s using WebKit — the renderer behind Safari — the speed difference between the two is striking.

And to be honest, as far as the ‘wow’ factor goes, that’s about it for me. It’s a browser. The minimalist layout is nice but in fact I’ve been doing myself with Firefox for a couple of years now. Oh, the tabs are at the top…ok. The address bar is ‘clever’…well I don’t particularly like FF3’s ‘Awesomebar’, and I’ve yet to see anything that this does that is likely to make me like it any better. The start page’s layout is very reminiscent of Opera, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing — I might well grow to like it.

But none of the above constitutes a ‘major breakthrough’ or ‘a paradigm shift in the browser space’. It’ll be interesting to see how it develops, though. Maybe the behind-the-scenes, technical advances (esepcially the speed) will feed back into other browser projects. As it stands, it’s just yet another platform to test for incompatibilities.

But…the speed! I can see myself using it as a day-to-day browser for non-development purposes, just because it’s so quick to launch.

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