Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Jumping on the bandwagon: Google Chrome

Today, Google decided to release their own browser Google Chrome, which is accompanied by a cute, very detailed and pretty technical comic book (!). While taking it for a spin I noticed a lot of blogs talking about it (Ars Technica,, Slashdot, Sunbelt, F-Secure, GeeksToGo), so here are my two cents. This post will be updated while I try this thing out.


  • The user interface is very minimal and still very good. You can do most of your web browsing with Google Chrome despite it not even having a menu bar. The address bar ('Omnibar'? Whatever) works very good, for both searching and typing. The new tab starting page is very much like Opera's Speed Dial, but picks pages to display there automatically.

  • It uses the Webkit rendering engine, which is the basis for Safari and very fast. However, Webkit recently switched to using the SquirrelFish javascript VM, improving their Javascript performance 1.6 times. Google chose to pick a different Javascript VM called V8 which is even faster! GMail is INSANELY fast in this Chrome browser (and I'm used to Opera, which is already very fast).

  • It uses (parts of) Mozilla Firefox, and probably also the anti-malware and anti-phishing protection Google built in conjunction with Mozilla.

  • It uses separate processes for each tab, and also for each plugin. This makes it easy to identify which tab/plugin is a memory hog (see the next bullet), and also to recover from a tab crashing since it doesn't take down the entire browser (something that was also added to the IE8 beta 2 released August 28).

  • It has a little Task Manager that shows memory and CPU information about each tag, while about:memory shows a detailed view.


  • I just accidentally dragged a tab and it changed into a new window with that tab. It's not really clear how to put it back into the original window. Some fidgeting shows that you have to drag the single tab itself back to the original window.

  • No plugins, very bare-bones. I miss my keyboard shortcuts, mouse gestures and ad-blocking.

  • Since it's based on the Webkit rendering engine, it's vulnerable to the same exploits. The carpet-bombing exploit (that has already been fixed in recent Webkit versions) is present in Google Chrome. There's also a ridiculously simple bug that crashes all tabs (yes, you heard that right) when you navigate to a URL with an undefined handler and a percent (%) sign in it.

  • While it's based on a recent Webkit version, it scores very poorly on the ACID3 test - only 55%.

Overall: The Google Chrome browser is very, very good. Google is the perfect company to create a browser, and they have thought about this a lot during development.

1 comment:

Erik said...

I hate the fact that they chose to roll their own UI. It leads to counter-intuitive programs where some things, like scrolling with touchpads or pens doesn't work.