Google's Chrome: 7 reasons for it and 7 reasons against it

It's an election year, and we're not just talking the Oval Office in the big white house on Pennsylvaia Avenue. The battle of the browsers is getting fierce, and Google wants you to sign up for its campaign.

Seven Chrome-Related concerns

1. It's only in its first beta.

This is Chrome's first test release, so problems are bound to crop up over the coming months. If like most people you rely heavily on Web browsing, you run a risk by putting your online life into the hands of an unproven product. Visits to some plug-in-oriented sites such as logmein.com have generated errors ("This application has failed to start because xpcom.dll was not found..."). Do you want to deal with that kind of uncertainty daily?

2. You won't have any add-ons.

Add-ons are a huge draw for Firefox fans, and none of these are available in Chrome yet. Google does intend to create an API for such extensions, but for now you'll have to make do without your AdBlocks, Better Gmails, and BugMeNots--or you'll have to switch between browsers to use the add-ons you want when you want them.

3. You can't synchronise.

One big plus of Firefox is its ability to synchronise across multiple computers using Mozilla's Weave option. This arrangement allows you to keep your home browser, your laptop browser, and your work browser looking identical at all times--and once you get used to that level of synchronisation, it's hard to give up. Chrome doesn't yet have that capability.

4. You may draw the short stick on standards.

Standards get a little less standard as this new player enters the equation. It's based on WebKit, the same open-source system that drives Apple's Safari; but when you look at pages in Chrome compared to pages in Firefox or IE, you'll notice a difference in text formatting. And since most sites give coding priority to the market leader, you might be setting yourself up for disappointment with Chrome.

5. You're giving advertisers extra ammo.

Have you seen all the hype about Google's privacy practices and how much of your data it shares with advertisers? Imagine the potential ammo you're giving it by using this browser. Google will now have total control over your experience from the time you open Chrome to the time you shut down. In some sense, you might just as well invite DoubleClick to watch over your shoulder while you surf.

6. The dropdown bar is dropped.

The idea of the URL dropdown bar is dropped in Chrome. To compensate, the browser offers "intelligent" features in its Omnibox; but if you like being able to see your recent URLs at the click of a button, you'll miss the dropdown bar.

7. You lose some history power.

Chrome's History functions are less versatile than the powerhouse ones built by Firefox. Chrome offers only a simple screen showing your day-by-day history. The ability to sort everything by date, site, or most visited appear to have joined the distaff and spindle on the ash heap.

So there you have it: the good, the bad, and the ambiguous of Google's first foray into browsing. You've heard the hype; now, the decision is yours. Whose campaign will you be joining?

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JR Raphael

PC World (US online)
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