Still Fighting the Last Century’s Wars

Google seems intent on following the same path to world domination as the previous heavyweight champ – Microsoft – by releasing a “better browser” of their own. Known as Google Chrome, its chief innovation seems to be putting the tabs on top of the address bar. Quite frankly, it will take more than that to wean the Dowbrigade from Firefox 3.1 (OK, it isn’t quite installed yet).

We have been using this browser, in one form or another, since installing Netscape 1.0 over Christmas vacation in 1994. Before that we used Mosaic, and since then we have tried, among others, Opera, iCab, Thunderbird, Camino, Safari, and about a million versions of Internet Explorer. But we keep coming back to Netscape/Firefox.

Our current version is tuned up and tricked out, and does everything but tell us tomorrow’s lottery number. Of course, Chrome doesn’t have to be better than Firefox to be a success, just better than IE7, a ridiculously low benchmark. Undoubtedly it will engage seamlessly with the rest of the Google universe, but we see problems with endowing any human-directed entity with that kind of omnipotence. We already use Google’s search, tabbed homepage, map service, calendar, photo service, email, reminder service and image search. They have most of our email and photos and some of our documents and medical records.  Are they satisfied?  Noooo, they want more.  They want it all.

Power corrupts, etc. and it’s only a matter of time until Google morphs into the latest incarnation of the evil empire. We know that the corporate climate at Google is “different”. The road to hell is paved in good intentions.

Meanwhile, they have published a 38 page comic book touting their Better Browser. Here are a few highlights from Blogoscoped


* Google Chrome is Google’s open source browser project. As rumored before under the name of “Google Browser”, this will be based on the existing rendering engine Webkit. Furthermore, it will include Google’s Gears project.

* The browser will include a JavaScript Virtual Machine called V8, built from scratch by a team in Denmark, and open-sourced as well so other browsers could include it. One aim of V8 was to speed up JavaScript performance in the browser, as it’s such an important component on the web today. Google also say they’re using a “multi-process design” which they say means “a bit more memory up front” but over time also “less memory bloat.” When web pages or plug-ins do use a lot of memory, you can spot them in Chrome’s task manager, “placing blame where blame belongs.”

* Google Chrome will use special tabs. Instead of traditional tabs like those seen in Firefox, Chrome puts the tab buttons on the upper side of the window, not below the address bar.

* The browser has an address bar with auto-completion features. Called ‘omnibox’, Google says it offers search suggestions, top pages you’ve visited, pages you didn’t visit but which are popular amd more. The omnibox (“omni” is a prefix meaning “all”, as in “omniscient” – “all-knowing”) also lets you enter e.g. “digital camera” if the title of the page you visited was “Canon Digital Camera”. Additionally, the omnibox lets you search a website of which it captured the search box; you need to type the site’s name into the address bar, like “amazon”, and then hit the tab key and enter your search keywords.

* As a default homepage Chrome presents you with a kind of “speed dial” feature, similar to the one of Opera. On that page you will see your most visited webpages as 9 screenshot thumbnails. To the side, you will also see a couple of your recent searches and your recently bookmarked pages, as well as recently closed tabs.

* Chrome has a privacy mode; Google says you can create an “incognito” window “and nothing that occurs in that window is ever logged on your computer.” The latest version of Internet Explorer calls this InPrivate. Google’s use-case for when you might want to use the “incognito” feature is e.g. to keep a surprise gift a secret. As far as Microsoft’s InPrivate mode is concerned, people also speculated it was a “porn mode.”

* Web apps can be launched in their own browser window without address bar and toolbar. Mozilla has a project called Prism that aims to do similar (though doing so may train users into accepting non-URL windows as safe or into ignoring the URL, which could increase the effectiveness of phishing attacks).

* To fight malware and phishing attempts, Chrome is constantly downloading lists of harmful sites. Google also promises that whatever runs in a tab is sandboxed so that it won’t affect your machine and can be safely closed. Plugins the user installed may escape this security model, Google admits.

About dowbrigade

Semi-retired academic from Harvard, Boston University, Fulbright Commission, Universidad Laica Eloy Alfaro de Manta, currently columnist for El Diario de Portoviejo and La Marea de Manta.
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25 Responses to Still Fighting the Last Century’s Wars

  1. Aloha says:

    I agree it will take a lot to displace Firefox, but there are a lot of IE7 diehards.

    “Google also promises that whatever runs in a tab is sandboxed so that it won’t affect your machine and can be safely closed.”

    This does look like a good option though.

  2. Marc Fawzi says:

    I’m glad you’re calling them out on their latest world domination trick.

    The funny thing is that where there is extreme intelligence there is always extreme stupidity. One attracts the other.

    Being average is the most underestimated virtue… but where is the fun in that?

  3. Well the smoke is cleared and the browser did not take over the world as planned. Good. The last thing we need is another all powerful monolith company like IBM was.

  4. While Google did not take over the world, they did garner about 2% of the market, not bad when you consider Apple with Safari as their native browser holds just over 4% at this point.

    I actually like Chrome becase it provides that best and cleanet interpretation of the HTML code (as opposed to I.E. for example which just interprets it very slopily). As a Website Designer, I use Chrome to troubleshoot problems.

    Not to mention it is the fastest browser (in my opinion).

    A cool site that I found shows the current stats (pulled from over 60,000 websites around the world) for all browsers (how many people are using them). Check it out:

    It is near real time data, not stagnent so it changes all the time.

  5. Araceli says:

    Thank you for this. Very interesting post.

  6. Escort says:

    I don’t understand why people still using ie! its the worst browser ever!

  7. Calendrier says:

    Les fleurs ne sont pas la !

    Ou sont -elles?

  8. Firefox has the mythic legend surrounding it that it is “the” safest browser as compared to all of the other browsers. That’s the main reason why i use it on my iPhone!

  9. Chrome definitely beats all others in speed. The shame is that not many addons available for it so far.

  10. Chrome is good Firefox will always be the best.

  11. SEO Montreal says:

    Chrome is really the fastest browser ever to use in the google site’s like Youtube, gmail, adwords are loading at the lighting speed but for me chrome still miss some addons and toolbar. I still use firefox as my main browser.

  12. Just like Gmail is not intended to be better then hotmail, Chrome is not intended to be better then Firefox. IMHO Google just wants to use their brand recognition to the max by offering more products that help them register user behaviour. Ad sales is the name of the game.

  13. Ted says:

    многие люди по привычке выбирают старое считая что он лучшее. Мы выбираем новое – лучшее.

  14. google says:

    this will be based on the existing rendering engine Webkit. Furthermore, it will include Google’s Gears project.

  15. exe dll says:

    Can I link this post from my blog?

  16. I think google is by far the best search engine, it has everything and is so smart.

  17. “Google also promises that whatever runs in a tab is sandboxed so that it won’t affect your machine and can be safely closed.”

    This does look like a good option though.

    we agree

  18. I love using Google chrome because it’s light and fast. Firefox consumes a lot of CPU resources, is so slow and prone to crashes a lot.

  19. John says:

    I don’t like google chrome and don’t use it. I like simple things

  20. Male escorts says:

    Google chrome works fine, it’s light and reliable.

  21. Google lover says:


  22. London escort says:

    Very good

  23. They have most of our email and photos and some of our documents and medical records. Are they satisfied? Noooo, they want more. They want it all.

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