Google Chrome: Fast. Really Fast.


Dlpage_lg Google’s latest project is a web browser aimed squarely at Microsoft’s dominant Internet Explorer. We take a first look.

Although repeated attempts to download Google Chrome met with failure earlier today, I have finally managed to download it and get it installed.

The verdict: Chrome is the fastest HTML browser I have ever used. It renders web pages almost instantly. Moreover, launching the browser takes no time at all, unlike non-IE browsers FireFox and Safari, both of which seem to take a little while to get going when you kick them into gear.

Chrome’s interface is also the least cluttered, with a super-minimal set of controls. Apart from the tabs at the top of the window (similar to IE 7 or Firefox) the default display show only the back and forward navigation buttons, reload, address bar (which doubles as a search field for your preferred search engine) plus two other buttons: page options and customize (which lets you control a very simple set of parameters for the browser like proxy settings).

Another feature of note is something Google calls Application Shortcuts. This feature lets you save your favourite web application like Hotmail as a shortcut on your desktop, start menu or quicklaunch icon. When you click on that shortcut, the application opens in a dedicated window, without any of the usual browser interface surrounding it. The result is more screen real estate to get your work done, and a separate window instead of a tab. I suppose Google figures that one instance of a browser is great for surfing multiple sites simultaneously through tabs, but that switching between a surfing experience and a website that offers application-like qualities has benefits. It’s probably also a good indication of what Google plans to do later with Chrome.

Lastly, I was delighted to note that Google has embedded spell check in Chrome, which means that the error-handling you’ve come to expect while using Word or Outlook (that little red squiggly underline to show you’ve mis-spelled) is now available to you in any web-based text entry situation – perfect for people who decide to use the Application Shortcuts feature (or for anyone who just hates spelling mistakes!)

So will I be dumping IE for Chrome? No, not yet anyway. Though I love Chrome’s speed, lack of support for ActiveX is still a deal-breaker for me. But you can bet I’ll be watching for some of Chrome’s influence to rub off on IE 8!

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9 comments

  1. Geoff

    No offense intended Simon, but I'm not quite sure you know what you're talking about. Microsoft has already laid it's plans, and begun it's work with IE 8, and they have clearly stated their intentions are not to follow other browsers for once. Besides that point, as Internet Explorer is typically used in Windows, and you can change your default mail program in Windows to be Hotmail (Windows Live Mail), the whole, "Website as an application," point has already been taken care of… For nearly a decade! Not too mention that, since Internet Explorer already loads up very fast (depending what add-ons, etc. you've included), they have no need to worry about that. The only thing that's really important for alternative Web-browsers is to be as standards-compliant as possible, something that Microsoft's IE team has already stated that they don't care about for IE 8, as well! The only use that IE has over ANY alternative is fully compatible with ActiveX. To add to that, ActiveX is the reason the majority of people have malware on their computer to begin with! Thinking of dumping IE for Chrome? Heck, you should've dumped IE for nearly ANYTHING else years ago, and eventually have switched to Firefox 3. The question really is if Chrome is as standards-compliant as Firefox 3, and if it is: SWITCH!

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  2. Simon Cohen

    Hey Geoff, no offense taken ;)
    But I will address some of your points…
    I haven't tried IE8, so I'm not in a position to judge it as a browser. If you've tried both IE8 and Chrome feel free to give some feedback!
    On the Application Shortcut issue, this feature is quite different than merely changing your app preference for email in Windows. It effectively lets you work on any web app as though it were installed on your PC. That's quite a game changer.
    I can't say as I agree with your assessment of ActiveX as a leading malware vector – do you have stats for that? – but I can say that for now, while I need ActiveX compliance for work reasons, IE will have to remain my primary browser.

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  3. Kevin W

    Simon,

    I also need ActiveX for using remote connections. I recommend FireFox 3.

    For now I am using Chrome for EVERYTHING else except browser based remote connections. It's SUPER FAST, Sleek, and I like the built in task manager that show how much memory each tab uses.

    Kevin W

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  4. hempnutica

    i ams learning to use it.. i like it so far it does seem a bit faster to, but i will know more as i use it. no crashes so far :)

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  5. Amy

    I'm all for the new browser. Part of me died a long time ago using IE, and even Firefox, with inexplicable browsers just randomly closing with no warning or message, some days not being able to open browsers at all as if the program wasn't installed, and the various other annoyances I've found with Internet Explorer 7 (Like the dozens of web sites that require login, that for whatever reason I am as yet unaware of, IE is simply unable to load the pages.)
    The functionability is neat. Still learning to find all the old features I would use in others, but, so far I like it, and I don't really consider myself very technologically advanced. (Only within 2 months did I start subscribing to RSS feeds, learning they were available.)

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  6. Peter da Silva

    There is limited support for ActiveX in Google Chrome, but luckily this is limited to certain specific components… if you want to venture into the ActiveX security swamp you still have to use Internet Explorer.

    See link for details.

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