So, yes. Chrome. Google’s got a new browser and it’s got everyone a-twitter (just check the twitter logs). For those of you who remember the great Browser Wars of 1998 when that young upstart Microsoft tried to take on the monopolist Netscape for browser dominance, this is a different world.
Back then, IE4 (which is when Microsoft’s Internet Explorer got any good) and NN4 (The last commanding browser of Netscape’s before it got bought by AOL and bloated into worthlessness) completed by giving designers special tags that one worked in one browser or another (Some of us might remember the Blink tag or signs that said “This web page optimized for Netscape 4.7” which are the “bad old days” of the internet). What worked in one wouldn’t work in another.
These days, we’ve learned that users don’t really care. They have a browser and just want your site to work on it. Thus, Chrome isn’t going to change the world by offering up a Shake tag or some such nonsense. They are going to be competitive precisely because they are designing a browser that already works with almost every web site.
But the cool thing about Chrome is that it is the very obvious clarion bell that signals that the rules have changed. It used to be about the Operating System (are you a PC or a Mac?). Now, since almost all the work you do is online (or will be very shortly), does it matter if you’re a Mac or a PC?
For example, I’ve been a PC guy since day one (Yes, I remember Microsoft Windows 3.11), but I’m considering buying a mini-notebook that runs on Linux (have you seen the new Dell Mini 9’s? Great googly moogly!) because I don’t need anything except a very powerful browser. Why?
Here’s what I do online:
Email (Gmail and Zimbra for work)
Notes (I have a work wiki and a personal wiki)
Tasks (I use Zimbra for that, but I used to use Basecamp)
IM (Gchat and Twitter)
Social (Facebook and Livejournal)
Project Management (my vendor keeps all our shared documents on a Google Docs account)
Frankly, the only think I need to do my job that isn’t internet related is Photoshop and Dreamweaver.
So Chrome, which is faster, built clean from the ground up (the reason why it take 45 minutes to upgrade IE6 to IE7: legacy code), more secure, and is more efficient with memory (the only flaw in Firefox for me at the moment), is a hot browser. It will push us more towards the idea that the computer isn’t the key: it’s like arguing over the difference between Visa and Mastercard. Who cares? Buy what you want.
I’d recommend giving Chrome a little time to flush the final bugs out, but it’s definately worth upgrading to.