Google’s Chrome – Needs Polish but great beta

If you’ve been alive for the last few days (and not off camping like I was when it first hit. You’ve heard about Google Chrome

Google chrome is their new browser which is a combination of Firefox, Safari, webkit and from scratch code. I’ve tested it on the one no linux computer I own (actually my wife owns) and on a virtual box and it’s amazingly fast, clean, simple and stable. Unless of course you type in :% into the omnibox. But, why exactly would one repeatadly type that in there. Aside from the giggles that crashing shiny new beta software over and over and over again give you, there really is no point. 

Now, Chome hasn’t made it to the “default” browser status yet on those two installs yet. But with time, probably will. It’s a great beta first release, reading into how they’ve tested it, and what they’ve done in ground up code… they’ve done their homework. But it needs a few plugins (mostly flickr greasemonky scripts) and spell check for it to hit primetime for me. But, lets look at what chrome really is. Beta. 

I’m more than sufficiently annoyed at all the bad media coverage it’s getting namely the “google browser has major security flaw one day into release.” Add to that all the Chrome vs. IE8 beta vs. Firefox articles, which though facinating, don’t really do justice to any of the browsers. 

Chrome is beta. Better yet, it’s a fresh beta. The program has never had a stable release, google has never said that its stable or the most secure software in the world or anything of that nature. By releasing a beta google (and not a release build) they’re saying; ‘Hey we’re working on this project, open source mind you, and we want your testing and input.’   They didn’t say ‘hey here is your new browser, install it on your computer, your friends’ computer your work computer and have your IT guy install it on all the computers at your fortune five hunderd company.’

A beta version is the first version released outside the organization or community that develops the software, for the purpose of evaluation or real-world black/grey-box testing. The process of delivering a beta version to the users is called beta release. Beta level software generally includes all features, but may also include known issues and bugs of a less serious variety.

The users of a beta version are called beta testers. They are usually customers or prospective customers of the organization that develops the software. They receive the software for free or for a reduced price, but act as free testers. – wikipedia

So when I see the first article about the “major security flaw” in Chrome I do a little digging to see exactly what it was. Apparently it stems back to the version of webkit they were using. Apple fixed this “hole” in webkit in a patch earlier this year but Google didn’t update that portion of the code with the fix. When I saw exactly what the flaw was, I was unimpressed. Sure, Google could have / should have easily fixed it, and will. But the flaw requires some good old fasion social engineering to happen. One would hope that your “beta testers” would be smart enough not to fall for it.    hmmm.   one *would* hope. 

If this were a major release, or even first public, stable release. Then sure, it’d be a shame. But if we go back to comparing this browser to others and talk security, there is no comparasion. Google having the advantage of starting with fresh code in many areas, has taken great measures to make it very safe and secure. Once we beta testers get done with it, and all the problems, are noted, they’ll fix them and release it for real. Then, I’m sure it’ll be something to write home about. 

Wishlist for Chrome.

So, when chrome gets the ability to do multiple profiles, spell check and to run my flickr plugins, I’ll switch instantly. Oh, and a portable version too!

What I really like

I love the user interface. Google has always done great things with GUI development and have outdone themselves with Chrome. When everthing gets wrapped into a stable release, I’ll be sending the link to all my family (the ones I don’t manage via remote login). 

Sandbox and multiple processes. At first I didn’t like the idea of multiple processes, one for each tab (or so). But it’s actually done in a way that stays very lightweight. I’m remided of the days when you could set windows to open each folder and such in a new process and get a slight increase in stability. That way if your zip drive locked up it’d kill that folder and everything else stayed up. Well… that’s a multiprocess browser for ya. I’ve tried crashing the browser as a whole and aside from typing in the :% command in the omnibox (address bar) it’s pretty tough. 

Also being able to pull a tab into it’s own window without reloading that tab. That’s cool.  “ok, but not sure why you’d want to do that” my wife was less than impressed. But I commonly have 20-30 tabs open as I’m researching stuff and being able to pull my gmail into it’s own window is a must. Now that I can. 

Speaking of gmail. Yes, the java apps are so amazingly fast. We’ll see how it all pans out in the IE8 vs Firefox 3.1 vs Chrome beta battle but I think you’ll see google at minimum keeping up if not continuing to set the bar as they are now. 

So. Beta test Chrome. Find those errors, report them…. to Google, not CNN. CNN won’t fix the errors, only talk about things for which they know nothing about. Google (or beta test provider) will fix them and we’ll all get a better browser in the long run. 

P.S.  if you do find a bug and decide to report it to CNN or anyone who has done horrible stupid writeups about google chrome. Explain to them what “Beta” means.      if microsoft released a beta game and it had a flaw in it, you wouldn’t see it in the news. (actually it might make the news if microsoft released anything that didn’t have a flaw, beta or stable.)

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