Google Browser

It seems that all rumors concerning Google eventually come to fruition, this time the long discussed browser has been announced. I’m pretty ambivalent about this one.

Just as Firefox, in certain places, is about to pass the combined numbers of all IE versions, I’m not sure I want to see another one in the mix although of course in terms of developer support vs effort it depends on standards support on their side. Safari did’t add that much effort when it came out because it features superb standards support.

However (I got to the Google blog from here through Digg but haven’t read anything else so I might have missed it) their announcement on the blog doesn’t mention web standards. Since they are partially based on Webkit support should be excellent but no mention of standards on a tech blog is not a good sign.

A new Javascript engine could be a good idea in terms of performance but what kind of work and bugs will it require for custom code and for libraries?

The “Omnibox” is the Google search box times 10, although the browser is open sourced, it’s not a move to fight Microsoft—they already did that by paying for some Mozilla developers—it’s a ploy to drive evermore trafic to their properties and this is dangerous. Google is already massively powerful and if people switch to Chrome in droves it’s not good for competition and gives yet more power to the all seeing and imperfect algorithm.

You will now be able to “pop open” a web app in a separate browser window with no address bar. One of the articles linked mentions making phishing attacks easier by removing the thought of addresses from peoples’ minds but it’s also one more step to the Google desktop / OS, I don’t know if there will be a full screen mode but it’s easy to imagine there being one. In which case users could potentially maximize Chrome, use Google apps and never see the operating system again. I couldn’t care less if Microsoft looses out but in such a scenario we are faced with a domination by a company driven by advertising and presenting revenu generating results, not just by a company out to sell more OSes and applications. It’s as big a potential unwanted “filter” between people and the whole of the internet as packet filtering by ISPs is. Net Neutrality is a big issue, Search Neutrality should be too and a Google browser doesn’t help that.

Think I’m exagerating by already talking about domination? I might very well be (and I hope so) but Chrome will no doubt bring more trafic to Google through search and apps (and then ads), do you have any doubt that they will quickly be offering deals to Dell, HP and others to make Chrome the default browser on new PCs against a cut of advertising revenu from those systems? Motivation like that can bring about adoption a lot quicker than better security, tabs and the average guy having to download and install which still helped Firefox gain a lot of traction relatively quickly.

The everpresent Google and the way people ignore it’s ubiquity is damned anoying and dangerous. I keep hearing about “Apple fanboys” but virtually all big techblogs are Google fanboys and no one talks bout it. They are always waiting for stuff from Google with trepidation, assuming it will be better and great, promoting the web office, never mentioning or seemingly even considering what it means to push your whole business in the Google cloud where it’s sliced, diced and advertised. It took me long enough to get smart to what we are putting in the hands of Google (merci Karl) but it’s taking even longer for those guys to get with it and it’s not helping things.

[Update] This is somewhat contrary to what I was saying earlier but; Chrome hasn’t been released yet for Mac and it’s based on the Apple backed Webkit, any chance the OSX version will instead be the next Safari using similar functionality and NOT a Google Chrome for OSX? As in, Apple is working with Google?

[Update 2] For those who think I’m being paranoid about imagined Google scenarios, check out what’s been noticed in the terms of service.

[Update to Update 2] Corrected.

September 2nd, 2008

Firefox, We’re Almost There

It’s only one source and browser stats commonly vary quite a bit site to site but still, in terms of trends these numbers are interesting. Webmonkey reports that for W3Schools, Firefox is at 42.6% market share, within striking distance of IE. Actually, it’s the leading browser by quite a margin if you take versions separately, IE leads when 6 and 7 are taken together. Sometime around mid 2009 we should see IE6 below 10% and maybe drop it for good at the end of the same year. At that point we’ll have fully adopted modern browsers. Now if only they’d keep advancing with CSS version implementations…

August 17th, 2008
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37signals Is Phasing Out IE6

As of August 15th, 2008, future features and any improvements made to existing features may not work with IE 6. If you are using IE 7, Firefox 2 or 3, or Safari, you don’t have to do anything — everything will continue as is for you. However, if you are using IE 6, and you want to make sure everything works, you will need to upgrade your browser to either IE 7, Firefox, or Safari. All of these browsers are free and all of them will deliver a much better overall experience. The web will be a lot better for you.—Phasing out support for IE 6 across all 37signals products on August 15, 2008

Yes! I linked a post by John Gruber a few days ago where he was wondering when someone would release a modern browser only app and I thought it made a lot of sense. Seems the signalers agree. As they mention in their post, IE6 was out in 2006 and 7 has been out for almost 2 years. If you haven’t upgraded yet—or even better, switched browsers—, what the heck are you doing?? And screw the IT department upgrade lock excuse or the “built for 6” internal sites, if you still have teams for whom these are issues, they need some training or to start looking for a new job.

Another similar idea, do web sites need to look exactly the same in every browser? No, they don’t. They need to all work, they need to look good (as in not broken) but where did we get the idea that we need to use the lowest common denominator? TV shows exist in HD and yet some people see it in “normal D”. There’s been VHS, Beta and Super VHS, people were getting different experiences. Movies are released on normal screens and shown on Imax in some cases. Sound systems all sound different, phones sound different. Cars don’t ride the same. Etc, etc, etc.

The information and accessibility needs to be there because the info online is more and more essential but the obsession with having an identical site for every browser is ludicrous and is weighing us down.

  1. Support only modern browsers

  1. Embrace the advantages and variations of the internet and multiple browsers

    (Just to be clear : I’m talking about things like font rendering variations across platforms, not excusing sloppy work)

July 8th, 2008
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Designers and developers: FIGHT!

So it’s high time we all got over our little internecine feuds and started acting like the professionals we claim to be. That means learning to work with with our colleagues, no matter where they fall on the spectrum of specialized industry knowledge. That means learning to educate each other — without looking down our noses — and concentrate on bringing everybody up to a high level instead of letting pettiness and infighting drag us down. And that means accepting the fact that whichever group we naturally fall into, we’ll always have something to learn from the folks on the other side.—Designers and developers: FIGHT!

June 29th, 2008

Truly Modern Browsers Focus

After having read it it seems kind of obvious but I had to make a note here. I think it’s a brilliant insight and although many designers have embraced this—dropping IE—for their blog designs, it’s a move that hasn’t been taken up yet elsewhere:

Yes, none of this stuff works in IE, and IE still has massive market share — but not among the sort of people who adopt hip new web apps. The combined market share for, say, Firefox 3 and Safari 3 is larger than the overall market share for Mac OS X. Plenty of developers write desktop software that only works on the Mac — why aren’t more people writing web apps that only work in truly modern web browsers? The first one to do it is going to be a sensation.—WWDC 2008 Miscellany

(emphasis mine)

June 28th, 2008
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