Monday, November 30, 2009

Why you should be using Chrome as your browser

Google's Chrome browser has been available since September 2008, and yet the majority of people still don't even know it exists. In fact, most people don't even know what a browser even is.

If you don't know what a browser is, or what browser you're using, then it's most likely Internet Explorer, or maybe Firefox. If you don't pay attention to what browser you're using, then you're missing out. It would be like driving a broken, beat up old car with flat tires when a brand new sports car is freely available, but saying, "nah, the old car works fine for me."

Just as the vehicle you chose to get from point A to point B makes a big difference to you trip, the browser you use to get online makes a big difference to your experience.

There are a number of different browsers available, but the vast majority of people simply use whatever browser came with their computer. For Mac users, this is Safari, and for PC users, it's Internet Explorer. Another popular browser that you've probably heard about is Firefox, the open source browser from Mozilla. Next, there's Opera, a considerably less popular and less known browser, and lastly we have Chrome from Google. All are completely free and each has their own claim to fame.

Chrome is just as, if not more secure than other browsers, so we won't go over security. Chrome's killer feature is that it's just crazy fast.

Even on older computers, Chrome simply flies. Here's a simple javascript test, demonstrating how many things the browser can be working on at the same time when loading a javascript heavy page, such as Gmail. (higher is better in this chart)

As you can see, Chrome severely beats both Internet Explorer and Firefox, while Safari is only slightly slower. Chrome also beats other browsers in startup speed. From the time you click the icon to start the program, Chrome is several full seconds faster than Firefox. This might not sound like much, but especially on an older computer, the lag can be very noticible and Chrome does away with it.

Here's a test you can run yourself, the Javascript V8 test. It measures javascript performance, higher numbers are better. On my machine, Internet Explorer 8 scored 83, Firefox scored 327, and Chrome scored 2779.
(read more about Chrome speed here)

Extra features:
Chrome also has a number if small extra features that just make sense. For example, you can pin tabs that you use frequently to save space:

You can also sync bookmarks between computers, install extensions and themes, etc. In the coming days, I'll write another post on how to super-charge your Chrome setup.

I used to be a major Firefox fanboy, proclaiming it to friends and even wearing a Firefox shirt. But lately Firefox has fallen from its throne. It's become slow, bloated, annoying and just generally disappointing. I know a number of former Firefox fans who have dumped it completely in favor of Chrome. I'm one of them and I highly recommend it.

If you would like to give Chrome a try, you can download it here. If you have any questions about setting it up, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. Read about all of Chrome's features here.

And in a couple of days, watch for a post here about how to get the most out of Chrome.