This isn’t a question I get asked often, but it is one people who know me have asked before. I get asked all the time by people why I don’t run Firefox. I’ll tell you why. I’ve run it before. It is one of the most horrendous resource hogs I have ever seen. I honestly would rather run Internet Explorer than Firefox. I’m not joking. While the extensions and themes and all the other stuff it has may seem like a good idea, in my experience, I’ve only ever seen them drastically slow down Firefox. I will admit I haven’t used Firefox in awhile, but the last time I did run it, it still had the infamous memory leak problem.
But the point of the post isn’t to rant on Firefox. While my experiences with it do contribute to my reasons for running Chrome, it’s not the only reason. The first and formost reason I run Chrome is that it’s a browser I can trust. I’ve run Chrome now since the very first day it was out. While those first days were far from perfect, it was clear to Google knew what they were doing. They knew they were getting in the browser market very late and were making an extremely risky gamble. I think it’s that fact that really contributes to Chrome’s success. When they first started out, they hardly advertised Chrome all. Compared to now, there practically was none. Back when I first started with it people would ask me, “What the heck is that you’re running?” I would proudly answer, “This is Chrome. It’s beautiful.”
When Chrome first arrived on the scene, it wasn’t nearly as powerful nor as customizable as it is now. But it was fast. Wicked fast. And for me, that’s all I cared about. At the time, I was running Apple’s Safari. Safari was – and still is – a great browser, but compared to Chrome, it was a slug. One of the first ways I explained Chrome to people was, “It’s Safari on major Steroids.” Of couse, the problem with that explanation was most people still didn’t know what Safari was either. So my other explanation was, “It’s Firefox with all the fat trimmed off.” Now that I think about it, describing it that way probably got a lot more people interested in it than the Safari comparison.
One of the other things I really loved about Chrome at the time is that it was the only browser in the world that I knew of that offered you a clear choice in how stable of a browser you wanted. I am proud to say that since September 2, 2008, I have been running the Beta version of Chrome. Honestly, I think the Beta part is a misnomer. Unless you actually know what you’re doing an turn on the real beta features, the beta version of Chrome I consider to be the version that just a bit faster and maybe has one or two new features. Now, you might be wondering what I mean by the real beta features. If you’re running Chrome Beta or Chromium, open a new browser tab and type in about:flags (or chrome://flags depending on your build number. about:flags should still work even on newer builds). Previously, the command/address was about:labs, Google’s usual name for experimental things. If you’ve never opened the tab before, for the love of God, if you don’t what you’re doing, look but do not touch. There are some features on that page that seriously are not ready for prime time. If you brick your browser, well… I warned you. Nonetheless, the about:flags page is where you really can have fun.
If you want a browser that has some bleeding-edge features, this is the page to look. Personally, it’s my favorite page and actually feature of Chrome. Every time I update Chrome, it’s the first tab I open. Some of the features that I thought were notable were/are: Instant (it’s now a part of the browser), Settings-In-Tab (settings used to be a completely separate window), Tab Overview (OS X only, do a three finger swipe down to see all your tabs, unless you run Lion), New Tab Page Preview (see the screenshot for the best idea), Print Preview (for the longest time, Chrome would not offer a Print Preview of pages, especially on Windows; still a beta feature), and finally Multiple Profiles.
Many of the features I just listed are now part of the stable version of Chrome or are in the process of being implemented. Whenever I hear a major version of Chrome has been released, I always read the article(s) to see what’s new. A good majority of times, the things new in the Stable version I’ve already been running for months. That said, if you want to have a bit of fun with your browser, grab the beta version of Chrome. The out-of-the-box settings give you a browser that’s ahead of the stable version, yet usually still actually very stable. It’s when you turn on the about:flags features that results may vary. However, I’ve always been someone who loves running the latest stuff. I of course can’t and don’t always get my hands on it, but with technology especially, it’s an extremely fun and often rewarding experience. I’ve beta tested things from software, to mobile apps, to entire operating systems, to games, to on some very rare and lucky occasions, hardware. While the latter I still actually can’t talk about, short of software, being one of the first people to use a new piece of hardware is one of the coolest feelings in the world.
But again, this post is about Chrome. Besides the choices of flavor (Stable, Beta, Dev, etc.) some of the other features I love about Chrome is that it’s one of the best browsers for HTML5 content, it’s still wicked fast, every plugin, extension, and tab is its own process so that if one thing crashes, the whole browser doesn’t, and that it deals with Flash itself. In addition to those features, I absolutely love that it is – at least in my opinion – the first browser to get extensions/plugins/addons and themes right. Just like tabs, if an extension crashes or is bogging down performance, you can kill it without crashing the entire browser. Furthermore, most of them don’t get in your way. They don’t add extra toolbars, extra crap at the bottom, and some don’t even add a button at all. And I love that. When I want to browse the web, I want to do just that, browse the damn web. I don’t want a gazillion things on my screen. It don’t want extensions screwing around with how my browser looks or the pages I’m viewing look unless I explicitly say so. I don’t want them interrupting me. Chrome is the only browser I’ve ever run that can do that. Opera comes very close, but it isn’t quite the same.
I feel it’s important to mention that when Chrome first started, there were no themes nor extensions. I was fine with that. I loved that. At the time, that’s exactly what I wanted. Now, I have plenty installed, but I’m very picky about what I install. For the longest time, the only ones I ran with Flashblock and Adthwart (Now Adblock). Today, I run many more from notifiers (Google Voice) to feature extensions (bit.ly, which shows where bit.ly links will send me). I also now have my Chrome themed with the Hatsune Miku theme. For a long time, I stuck with the default blue. It was simple and looked nice enough. Eventually I installed Zen Spring to semi-match my iGoogle and gMail. Now I don’t use iGoogle, have my gMail come into Apple Mail, and am an Otaku. As a result, Miku fits better (plus it’s still a cool blue color).
In closing, I don’t see myself switching from Chrome any time soon. Right now, the only reason I would switch to another browser is if it ran better than Chrome and offered significantly more features. To be honest, I don’t know if I even switch from Chrome to another browser if I were being payed to. I love running Chrome. I love that it works at the speed I do. I love that it’s simple in design. I love that it allows to me do what I want to do on the web. I love that it allows me to customize it to be truly my own.