Tag Archives: Chrome

Upgrading the Web: IE8 Released

IE7Microsoft released Internet Explorer 8 yesterday, for Windows XP and Vista. So if you’re still running IE6, or someone you know is, it’s once again time to think about upgrading — or switching. (Assuming, of course, that you’re not locked in by corporate policy or another piece of software.)

  • IE6 is now two versions behind the current release.
  • IE6 is almost 8 years old (it was released in 2001).
  • IE6 is lacking in many capabilities that all other modern web browsers have, in web technology, in security, and in features you can use.

You can read a review at Wired, a write-up from the IE team, or a summary of technical changes from WaSP.

Of course, Internet Explorer isn’t the only option out there. There’s Opera, Firefox, Chrome and a host of other alternative browsers that are worth checking out.

If you’re still running Windows 2000 or some other old version of Windows that can’t run IE7 or IE8, I’d absolutely recommend Firefox or Opera. Either will be much better than IE6, both will run on Windows 2000, and Opera will even run on Windows Me and Windows 98 (but you really ought to move to something more current than Windows Me.)

Opera Chrome Firefox

First Impressions of Google Chrome

Now that it’s live, I’ve downloaded the Google Chrome beta on my Windows box at work.  Thoughts so far:

Good:

  • Site compatibility seems to be fine so far, with a couple of minor issues (see the “Bad” section).  Mostly I’ve tested it with a couple of forum sites, LiveJournal, Slashdot, and WordPress.
  • I like the simple settings box, with “Basics,” “Minor Tweaks,” and “Under the Hood.”
  • It does feel fast.
  • Showing the URL of links in the lower left-hand corner is a perfect compromise between the spatial advantages of a permanent status bar and the extra room provided by leaving it out.
  • I like the task manager for the browser itself.  It’ll be good for developers, but it’ll also be good for users: as the comic points out, if your browser starts chewing up all available resources, you’ll be able to tell what page/plugin/program is at fault instead of just blaming the browser.

Bad:

  • Gears support doesn’t seem to work quite right.  WordPress.com doesn’t detect that it’s available.  Local WP installs with Bad Behavior can’t sync completely.  (It doesn’t send an Accept header on the request for one of the TinyMCE files, which causes Bad Bahavior to think it’s a spambot and triggers a 403.)
  • Cookie management is too simplistic.  I like to accept all cookies temporarily, but clear everything when I end my browsing session, with exceptions for sites where I want to stay logged in.  This is easy in Firefox, a little trickier in Opera, and doesn’t seem to be an option in Chrome.
  • I have seen it pause a couple of times, with as few as 5 tabs. [edit: these seem to be related to Flash content]
  • No Incomplete spell-check.
  • I keep hitting the forward-slash key to search within a page, since that’s the shortcut I’m used to in Firefox and Opera.
Debatable:
  • The UI does indeed stay out of your way.  I guess this sort of makes Chrome the Anti-Flock.
  • DNS Pre-Fetching is enabled by default.  This is different from full HTTP pre-fetching in that all it does it look up the IP addresses of the links that you might click on.  It’s not clear at what point it does this — I don’t remember seeing it mentioned in the comic, which (ironically) isn’t searchable.  I suppose it could either hit the domains of all the links on a page, or just those that would trigger HTTP pre-fetching, or even just send the query when you hover over a link (to get a split-second head start before you click). Update Sep. 17: Google has a blog post explaining pre-resolving in detail. Apparently it does check the domains for all the links on the current page.

New Browser: Google Chrome

Google Chrome seems to be a multi-threaded open-source browser based on WebKit (with some code from Firefox as well), focusing on making a browser that will work well with web applications.

It’s got built-in support for the Gears API (not surprising). And, like Firefox 3, IE8, and Opera 9.5, it’ll do full-history search & auto-suggest in the location bar. Interestingly, they’ve adopted a couple of UI elements from Opera, including thumbnails of your most-visited pages when opening a new tab (like Opera’s Speed Dial, though in this case the list is automatically generated from your browsing behavior), and putting the tabs above the main toolbar — something that Opera has taken a lot of flack for.

According to the blog post, the first preview release should be out for Windows tomorrow, with Linux and Mac following.

Oddly enough, I found out about it through comics blogs (A Distant Soil, specifically), not tech blogs, because Google hired Scott McCloud (Understanding Comics) to explain what makes the browser different in comic-book form.