Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Is it time to ditch IE for Chrome?

I may be the last tech writer on the planet to test drive Google’s johnny-come-lately browser, Chrome. My response when it launched a year ago was, ‘Do we need another browser?’

But IE8 has been driving me crazy – reasonably quick connections but lo-o-ong delays in displaying all the ad content on pages, which momentarily freezes the browser window – and I happened to stumble on a TechCrunch post on Chrome. So, what the heck.

First impressions? Yes, Chrome is way faster, and that goes a long, long way. But feature-wise, it can’t touch IE8.

Some minor irritants encountered in the first hour using Chrome:

  • In Win7, when you mouse over the IE icon in the task bar, Windows displays good-size thumbnails of all your open tabs strung out above the bar. So you can go directly to the tab you want. With Chrome, you only see the currently open tab. You have to activate Chrome and then select the tab you want from within the app.
  • In IE, you can choose to open new tabs to your home page. Not with Chrome. When you open a new tab, your only choice is a page showing recently closed and most visited pages. Not a bad idea, and of course your home page will almost always be there (and you can tell Chrome to keep it there always), but it means one more click before you get what you want.
  • Speaking of home pages, mine has links that aren't underlined. Chrome kindly added the underlining for me. (Except I didn't want it.)
  • To search using your default search engine (Google by default naturally), you type search terms into the address field rather than a separate search field. This is not entirely intuitive (coming from IE) and it means you get a mish-mash of saved search terms and visited pages in the drop-down. I could probably get used to this one, though.

Could Google fix the others? Probably not on the first one. IE8 is tightly integrated with Win7, virtually part of it. (Remember the anti-trust case against MS?)

The second one: I can’t see why they couldn’t at least make it a user option. Third one: a bug to be fixed possibly?

Still, did I mention that Chrome is really fast?

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