Posted by Richard
After this forum post by Ella in the WordPress.com forums, and Teck’s comment here on this blog, I was about ready to change the title of this post to “Google Chrome: NOT ON YOUR LIFE,” but with a little time going by (and taking the time to try it out), and a post by Matt Cutts (Googler) on his blog, one of the two – the Chrome end user license agreement (EULA) – thorns have been removed, or will be shortly according to Matt. (Note to Google: One size does not fit all!) The other one – the potential piece of malware installed with Chrome that Teck reported – is still a concern although it was not installed on my computer when I did the installation. During installation I told it not to send information on crashes and such back to Google, so perhaps Teck did not disable that at install. And there are other concerns as well including some apparent security issues. I’m not going to repeat the sloothing of others, but will include links to things I think you should be aware of.
This isn’t going to be an indepth review of features and such, but simply my observations from several hours of use over a couple days. I’ll start with general impressions and then move into how it functioned with WordPress.com and the stand-alone WordPress software from WordPress.org. At the end of this post, I will list some good sources of information if you wish to look further.
Do keep in mind: Chrome at the time I’m writing this is in Beta, which means it isn’t finished. Hopefully the issues will be taken care of by the time it reaches actual “ready for prime-time” release.
[Update 1: Warning! There have been a few more security holes uncovered and reported by Information Week, and the security issues are not something that will be caught by antivirus software or spy software, so don’t expect them to keep you safe. Please read the article and be very careful until Google gets these issues resolved.]
I did my testing on an IBM Thinkpad with a 1.13GHz Pentium III processor and 768mb of ram running XP service pack 3. Yes, I know it is old, but it has an honest to goodness serial port, which I need for connection to some of my electronic test equipment, and it has been absolutely trouble-free since I bought it in early 2002. Besides, the bulk of my computing is done on a MacBook Pro.
Once I had a few websites and several pages cached, they loaded quickly when going back to them. In general Chrome is snappy, and starts up much faster than any other browser I have on this machine.
Page rendering in Chrome needs work. What I was looking for was how text and lines were rendered. In Chrome, bold text looked thin, and on some pages there was almost no difference between bold and plain text side-by-side – take a look at the forum list on the left side of the WordPress.com main forum page in Chrome, and then in another browser). Of the 4 browsers I have installed on the laptop, my opinion is that Safari 3 is the best with IE7 and Chrome about tied for second, and Firefox bringing up the rear. Firefox has always disappointed me on XP when it comes to web page rendering; the text always looks pixelated instead of smooth and fluid like it does in Safari 3. On my MacBook Pro, Safari and Firefox are virtually the same when it comes to rendering, with Firefox a little worse by just a little.
I pounded Chrome on my WordPress.com blog and also on my self-hosted blog (2.5.1), making test posts, uploading and inserting images, changing themes, widgets, settings and such, and found no problems whatsoever. It was quick and trouble free.
[Update 2: There appears to be an issue with Chrome and the RSS. As Mark mentions in the thread, Google may not be to eager to fix it since they would rather you use the Google Reader. I never looked at a feed since I seldom read feeds and simply didn’t think to do so.
The Bad News
It also has an issue with URL’s that have special characters in them such as % which will crash Chrome. I have verified this. Supposedly Chrome keeps the stuff in each tab in a “sandbox” and any bad behavior in one tab will not affect another tab, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Perhaps they should make the box out of something more substantial than sand. This one I can’t believe made it out in the Beta release.
Chrome sometimes just stalls for no apparent reason and when it happens, I cannot even switch to another tab. Pressing the stop button also does no good. Basically you sit and wait until it again regains consciousness. Flash-heavy sites also give it some problems. I looked at several Youtube videos and a couple of them simply would not play.
If you are using Firefox and try to import your bookmarks from there, don’t expect them to show up. They simply won’t be there when you look.
For me, it is highly unlikely I will switch from Safari 3 and Firefox 3. There simply isn’t a compelling reason to do so; it is simply another pretty face. Each person will have to determine on their own whether Chrome is right for them. The one suggestion I would have, is to not abandon what you are using now. Chrome has some issues, and I am sure Google will get them ironed out, but in the meantime, I would not suggest putting all your eggs in a Chrome sandbox.
If Chrome has a target audience, it would definitely be Internet Explorer users. If Safari and Firefox did not exist, and all I had to use was Exploder Explorer, I would very likely switch to Chrome.
Related posts on this blog:
Google Chrome: A New Browser for Windows