Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Switching Browsers

I've been a fan of Firefox for a long, long time. Way longer than this guy, I'm sure. Look at him. He probably thinks Firefox is an animal from one of his precious Harry Potter books.

Let's be honest though, Firefox is getting a bit slow. It's bulky, it's sluggish, it takes up a lot of screen real estate for itself rather than the web pages it's meant to be displaying. It is, I've decided, no longer what I'm looking for in a browser.

I've played with Google Chrome a bit in the past, but there were always a few things keeping me from switching over. For instance, the last time I tried it out, there was no plugin support (was there, or was it just that no Firefox plugins I used had Chrome corollaries? I'm not sure.)

Well now my two major Firefox plugins, Xmarks (for syncing bookmarks) and LastPass (for managing passwords) both work in Chrome.

And Chrome is so much faster at everything! Of course the Google suite of products,which I use quite a bit, works much faster, they'd be stupid not to optimize for each other. Google Reader, Gmail, Google Calendar, all are pretty snappy. Even Google Instant, which usually slows my netbook down to a crawl, is practically usable!!! I'm smitten!

Okay, not entirely smitten. It is just a browser after all. Hold on, I'm going to install Xmarks in Chrome real quick so I can get a link I'm going to put in a future post, Of course, I'll have to restart Chrome before I can start the plugin, and it'll be a bit messy, with pop-up windows all over the place...WHAT!?! I don't have to restart Chrome in order to use plugins I've just installed. I"M OFFICIALLY SMITTEN!!!!!

Also, What!?! no stream of annoying pop-ups about installing a plugin, just a bit of text that shows up at the bottom and walks me through it?

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why I scoff at people when they say that Apple has too large a foothold in the smartphone market, and that Google has too large a foothold in the search market, for either to ever be dethroned. Firefox has been around for quite a while. It has been awesome for a large portion of that while. But it's gotten stuck in a rut, and it's user base slowly being usurped (as Android is usurping iOS and a handful of search engines are slowly chipping away at Google).

Case and point, the plugin system. Firefox has one. It's great. Better, I think, than Chrome's in some way because I still don't believe there's anything like NoScript for Chrome, nor is it possible to make something like that for Chrome. Or so I hear.

On the other hand, on the usability side, Chrome is way better. No popups! That's so much easier. No restart needed to activate plugins. That is a much bigger deal than it sounds.

You can imagine someone looking at Internet Explorer (or more appropriately, Netscape) and ending up with Firefox, a much better and much more advanced browser. You can then see how Google looked at Firefox, threw that dawn-of-the-internet bullshit UI away, optimized the hell out of it, and ended up with Chrome.

So yeah, I'm a bit excited. And happy. For now.


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