Google Chrome: Day 1

Here are my release day thoughts:
There are a couple things that I can do with Firefox that Chrome can’t do that’ll keep me from switching:

  1. Firebug or equivalent JavaScript debugger.  I’m sure this is in the works.  Google writes tons of JavaScript code and really requires a good debugger themselves.  They have some tools in Google Web Toolkit, but for everything else, something in the browser would be great.
  2. Bookmark sharing.  Maybe Google is planing on making the current idea of bookmarks obsolete, but until that time I need an easy way to have the same bookmarks on all of my computers (thanks Foxmarks!).  Oh, and of course they need to add a bookmark manager, but I’m sure that’s coming soon too.
  3. Mac support.  Once again, it’s just a matter of time.
  4. Add-on extensions.  Google has said that they’re working on it.  Hopefully it doesn’t take too long before some good ones are available.  Add-ons are an essential way to customize a browser so that it works how I need it to work without cluttering the system for the other 99% of the users.

Overall, it’s pretty usable, just not quite there yet.  I don’t think I’m ready to recommend it for my friends or family either.

The whole multi-process thing has been making me think.  This kind of architecture would work really well in a distributed environment (like Google’s own data center environment).  If Google could find a way to bring that kind of power to the desktop, their web applications might have a huge boost over all of the other software that isn’t designed to be so parallel.

Another thing that’s very clear is that Microsoft has no incentive to make a good browser.  Their two main moneymakers are Windows and Office.  Making a good web browser would mean that more companies could make good web applications.  Good web applications would mean that Windows would be completely optional.  Building an Office suite on the web would be a lot of work, but a lot of companies are working on it.  If web browsers were 10 times faster (on the same hardware) and had access to the file system in a secure way, there’d be a much better chance for competitors to eat into the Office pie.  Once again, once there are good office suites available online, then Windows is optional and Microsoft would have to really compete.

As a web developer, I have a great incentive to get more people to use better browsers–it makes it easier for me to develop better software.  So, if you know anybody still using IE6, please tell them that they have a choice in browsers and using one that’s 7 years old is not a good thing.