The first time I tried Chrome, called Chromium in those days, I thought it was buggy, there was no ad blocker, and the options for customization were limited. Firefox already had tabbed browsing and dozens of add-ons to customize your browsing experience and the Chromium debut in 2008 was a less than exhilarating experience.
But Google opened up large sections of Chrome’s source code to allow other developers tweak it for other operating systems and write custom extensions. Chrome advanced in both appearance and function in huge leaps. It’s somewhat ironic that those of us using Linux on the desktop were passed by until well into 2009.
Another approach Google quickly adopted was integrating their own services into their own browser. Not everyone thinks this is a particularly good idea and it makes some people nervous about being “owned” by all things Google. While there is some validity to that concern, my brother the systems security expert always reminds me that you have to trust someone.
Through all of 2010 and 2011 (why does that seem so long ago now?) Chrome continued to claim a larger and larger percentage of the market. The real brilliance of a browser that was open and blazingly fast came to fruition when Android started claiming a larger and larger segment of the device market. A Google supported browser married to a Google supported operating system backed up by application integration options and an app store, all of it out there in the open where developers could have a crack at it.
Today Chrome accounts for nearly half of the current browser market. The combination of open source coupled with corporate support has allowed Chrome to leapfrog over the competition and, for better or worse, allowed Google to essentially take over the world.
The reasons I switched to Chrome were varied.
There’s been a lot made of the all-in-one search and address bar. It takes a little getting used to, but once you’re there it’s hard to go back. The petty annoyance of trying to make Google the default search engine on IE is just another nail in the Internet Explorer coffin.
Picture Panel Home Page
Firefox eventually found a way to duplicate this feature, too bad that was long after many users had already jumped ship. Interesting that Windows 8 tried to imitate the block style, unfortunately for the Microsoft faithful, they did it somewhat poorly.
I still use Firefox from time to time but switching back to Chrome is like moving from an airliner to a private jet. No offense to the Mozilla team, but Firefox just feels more bloaty.
One of the great add-ons for Firefox was Greasemonkey, which allows you to load scripts that customize web pages you visit frequently. With Chrome you don’t need a plugin to manage your scripts. Find a script you like, hit install and you’re right in business.
You can install a plugin in Chrome and start using it right away, no restart required. That doesn’t sound like much but it’s just one of those little things that adds to the overall faster feel you get from Chrome.