Less important IMHO than Chrome vs. Firefox vs. IE is the fact that we now find ourselves in a world where there are three serious competitors for browser mindshare instead of one dominant one. That makes collaboration on standards a winning strategy instead of a losing one: any two browsers can agree on something and push it with majority support, pulling the third along. When it was IE vs. the world, the existence of a standard (a sane standard, anyway) that could be implemented by its competitors was a losing stratagy for MS.
Or it could mean that each browser effectively has veto power over any innovation. If developers know that 25% of their visitors will be using a browser that doesn't support a particular standard or technology, that may prevent them from implementing it... at least "for now". That will prevent widespread adoption, thus justifying the outlier browser to never support it.
I doubt many sites are going to bother with all the complexity of implementing and utilizing SPDY when only chrome supports it. To see significant advantage with SPDY vs something like long-polling you need to build your app around it, and if you need to support long-polling methods anyways, not very many sites are going to bother.
I think you are confusing SPDY with WebSockets. SPDY is Google's experimental replacement for HTTP. You don't build your app around it at all - from the application layer it should be mostly invisible.
SPDY can be implemented as an Apache module which could be used only when the browser supports it.
It is true that WebSockets replace long polling, but there are plenty of libraries that abstract the differences out nicely.
That's possible, but any browser that refuses to implement a sufficiently great technology will also risk losing users to browsers who give them a better experience. It will be turbulent, but the consumers will win in the end.
webapps help a lot with this though. with websites, where pageviews are king, you can't afford to exclude any big browsers. when you are developing a webapp, especially something that your customers are going to use to generate revenue for themselves, you as a developer are in a much better position to exclude browsers that don't implement standards.
obviously it's not an ideal situation, but i have no qualms about using webGL to implement something labeled an "advanced feature" in my app, and give IE users an error saying their browser isn't supported.
That's why I wish my idealistic notions were practical in the real world. Ideally, web developers would design according to standards, which would force browsers to adhere to the standards or risk losing market share. Unfortunately, pragmatism has to win out, and developers have to utilize every hack and bad practice imaginable to get their content to be accessible on every browser.
> Less important IMHO than Chrome vs. Firefox vs. IE is the fact that we now find ourselves in a world where there are three serious competitors for browser mindshare instead of one dominant one. [..] Bravo!
I like the sentiment and agree with most of it. But we are definitely not in a good place quite yet.
It looks like Chrome will overtake Firefox this year on desktop. It will likely also overtake IE on desktop, simply because the number of people forced to use IE - in big corporations - is small compared to the number of normal users. So IE will continue to go down quite a lot more.
So Chrome will be the #1 browser on desktop. But that's just one side of things. Chrome will also be the #1 mobile browser because it will be bundled on Android, the #1 mobile OS. Combine desktop and mobile, and Chrome will get a dominating majority. (ChromeBooks might also take off, making the control even more complete - but it's hard to say if they will.)
Chrome's rise is the result of a great product and a truly massive marketing campaign. But it looks like it will succeed far too much, potentially replacing the currently open and competitive space with one dominated once again by a single player. And just like the previous dominator, this one has other products it can and will leverage with the browser (as we saw indications of in the leaked Dart memo, and as we currently see with Chrome-only features of gmail and google docs).
Yes, Chrome is mostly open source, so that by itself makes it less evil than the previous browser monopoly. But even an open source project that is controlled by one company, and used to further its own ends - which legally it must as a for-profit - can be a very bad thing. We can't blindly assume that what is good for Google will always be good for everyone else - if that ever was the case.
Doesn't it bother anybody that Chrome is made by ad company?
The way I see it, if everybody started using ad blockers like I do, google would implode almost instantly. So how would they combat that? Control the platform for viewing the web and be positioned to kill ad blockers if it ever became a problem.
Would you buy a DVR controlled by a television network? That would be insane, as soon as DVRs ate too much into their revenues they would just
kill the skipping feature.
But because of the abundance of chrome fanboys, this is just what is happening, and everybody is looking the other way.
A little while ago we had a big company doing everything they could to control the "personal computer" platform, even evil things, and illegal things, and now there's another company trying to control the internet as a platform and a lot of you hackers are eating it up, I'm just baffled.
A little, but do be aware that (i) Mozilla is 83% financed  by search royalties from that same ad company, and (ii) Chromium has a somewhat independent developer community
Making money from ads is also not evil: you are probably served by a local newspaper which is probably both good for your neighbourhood and financed mostly or entirely by ads. This stream of revenue comes with conflicts of interest, but these can be handled better or worse. I think Google has done pretty well in this; at least my criticisms of Google mostly do not lie here.
For most people, myself included, it's not about the ads as such, it's more the tracking that goes with it. I'd happily see ads all day if they didn't track me, but they do, so I use adblocking. Should I unblock the sites I like? Yes, I should, but it's just too much work so I leave it on permanently.
Yes, absolutely. I actually realize I'm missing a significant amount of opportunity right now by not seeing Google ads for products I could make use of, so yes. However, I don't want my IP or anything identifying me in particular associated with my ads.
Potential opportunity here to make a special adblock which tracks user using an anonymous ID code? Essentially acting as a trustable middleman in the equation?
I use Chrome because it is an absolutely excellent browser. It gets a lot of things right that others do not, and it is (mostly) open source.
Since you brought up television companies controlling DVR's, I will make an attempt to extend upon that. Would you use a DVR controlled by a television network if it was significantly better than a DVR of any other nature? I have no problems admitting that I would, and I feel that a lot of others would as well. That is how I relate Chrome to other browsers. Sure, its controlled by an ad company, but it's also an absolutely fantastic product that includes a lot of features that make my day much less stressful than using "other" browsers, especially as a developer.
If Google wants to start killing off the AdBlock extension, then they can do that. It's their product and they can do whatever they want to, but that also means I have the freedom of jumping ship and using Firefox. Chrome has gotten its popularity among this crowd because they have made consistently good decisions when it comes to features, ui changes, etc.
Going back to DVR's, if a television company wants to release a product and then take away features that user's have had from the start, then fine. It's their decision. But remember, Sony did it with the PS3 and look how that turned out. There is almost always another choice, and that is especially true in the browser market.
I do share your concerns but I still use Chrome more often than Firefox because Firefox has some annoying issues on the Mac that don't seem to go away (stalling text entry and scrolling after a few hours of uptime being the worst)
I'm keeping a close eye on what Chrome does in terms of privacy related settings. The moment I feel that Google does indeed leverage Chrome to spy on me more than they would otherwise be able to, I'm back on Firefox. After all, Chrome has some very annoying issues of its own (window switching is broken on pages with Flash vids, and Flash keeps crashing more often than in other browsers)
I'm not convinced that blocking all ads helps my privacy interests though. The alternative to ad funding is a paid subscription model which takes away privacy altogether.
No, it doesn't bother me that Chrome is made by a company that makes money by serving ads. In fact, Google is using some of the ad money to fund the development of the webrequest API , which allows me to fully block the ads that they (and others) are serving.
The simple fact is that Chrome serves my web browsing needs wonderfully, so I use it as my primary browser. If the day comes that this is no longer true, I will just switch back to Firefox, or whatever awesome browser emerges between now and then.
It's not the IE/Chrome squeeze I'm concerned about.
Webkit(Safari, Silk, Chrome) and IE are the only players on their mobile platforms, that's what makes me sad.
FF on Android is so far behind webkit, I wonder if they will ever catch up, or rather, if they should even try.
I've liked FF, but yesterday I officially switched to Chrome. I don't think it's going to be a perfectly smooth switch, but I felt I had no choice.
The stability of FF has been dismal lately. This is largely a memory issue: my system starts to bog down if I leave FF running too long, so I have to restart it at least once a day. But more recently, it hasn't been able to survive more than a couple of hours. It will randomly "tear off" a tab, and then freeze itself using 100% of one CPU core, and must be killed. I assume this is a badly-behaved extension, since I haven't heard the world screaming about it, but I haven't been able to determine which one it is.
I'm sure it is an extension. The thing is, I can't easily figure out which one. Since it takes a couple of hours for the problem to occur, it's too much of a big deal to try a binary search of all extensions to figure it out.
Compare to Chrome, which has its own task manager, which shows CPU and RAM usage of each extension.
Even more interesting (if you project out further) is that by this time next year, Chrome will have eclipsed IE to become the #1 browser in terms of market share. But only if you continue to project on the exact paths that each of the three are taking, which doesn't account for saturation or mindshare caps whatsoever. Still, it's satisfying to imagine IE being overthrown in a year from now.
I can't imagine that happening. It seems to me most people are locked in to IE largely out of indifference or workplace constraints.
If anything, IE has vastly improved as a browser over the last few years. If IE was ever going to be dethroned, my money would have been on the mid 2000s when IE6/IE7 were noticeably inferior to Firefox.
That being said, I'd much rather be proved wrong. :)
Two forces that may play against this: there are a growing number of people browsing from non-Windows devices (OSX, iOS, Android) on which there is no IE option, and for businesses that choose to save money by using Google Apps, it's probably preferable to put their users on Chrome to ensure the best possible compatibility and performance. Yes, IE has tremendous inertia in its favor, but most of the trends seem to be washing the other way.
I think you're right about the growing number of non-desktop browsers forcing IE getting on board, but I've always felt the "web apps" angle was overplayed. I've never worked for a company that migrated to web apps, nor am I personally familiar with anyone who has. I read about them sometimes, but really, what company that employs 500 people is using web apps over enterprise solutions?
Hanging hopes on web apps seems a like a startup echo chamber. Sure, the potential is there for lots of things, especially in the collaboration space, but Google Apps is a Mount Everest away from usurping MS Office.
There are in fact a lot of large organizations in the for-profit, government and education space that have moved over to using web apps at this point. Microsoft Office isn't about to disappear, but it's fairly established now that an organization can exist without buying Office licenses for their employees, especially if they don't have heavy dependencies on Excel.
There are some pretty big organisations that use Google Apps. For example, BSkyB use gmail for customer email accounts, and the University of Cambridge and the University of Sheffield both use Google Apps to some degree for staff/students.
There's a local tech college that uses it for email as well. But that does very little to shake IE's hold in the enterprise. Providing customer or student email is one thing, migrating your staffs away from an MS Office workflow (especially for academics, who's job is publishing), is something wholly different.
I'm not saying that businesses don't use web apps, but counting on web apps to shake IE's dominance in enterprise, at least in the short term, is wishful thinking.
Unfortunately, what I foresee happening is home user market saturation reaching 100%, but Chrome never taking a majority thanks to business types (you know, the people still on IE6.) Too much reliance on ActiveX and AD and being able to lock down the homepage and other things that get corporate IT control freaks all hot and bothered.
It's a "security" thing. Big companies pay Microsoft money in order to have a "secure IT infrastructure" that "regulators" will like. Microsoft's lawyers wrote some words that appeal to those folks. Google's stuff is free, and so Chrome doesn't come with any guarantee that it won't single-handedly take out the company's entire technology infrastructure.
Obviously this is very far removed from reality (you can read Chromium's source code and audit yourself. IE? Nope.), but these people aren't operating in the real world. IE is the best browser for the imaginary world that the "decision makers" live in.
(On my work machine, running chrome.exe causes an alert to be triggered and execution is denied. Of course, renaming it to not_chrome.exe allows it to work fine. Secure!)
Hmm, an externally-audited "certified" version of chrome may be an interesting product to sell. Web browsers are a primary source of risk exposure (next to e-mail) for corporations. Slap on a few logos, auditors, and clip art of happy people in suits, and you have yourself some corporate confidence.
I do think the "no one ever got fired for picking Microsoft" is part of it, but it's also a very well developed eco-system for a mid-sized shop that don't have the man power or expertise. With MS you have tools like group policy and tons of vendors do tie ins with Active Directory to make offering single sign in services (VPN, email, extranet, etc) very easy.
People are down on MS because they feel that it's just the "easy" decision, but they also have a mature and well developed product that works pretty well for a midsized business with a small IT staff.
Chrome supports SSO with NTLM/Negotiate.
On Windows it will even automatically turn on SSO for sites in your Local Intranet security zone, which is much smoother than the Firefox about:config, network.automatic-ntlm-auth.trusted-uris method.
It is quite profound when you consider that Firefox has been mostly funded by Google via the search page revenue deal.
If you take Firefox + Chrome and credit them both to Google (unfair in many respects, I know) - Google can claim "responsibility" for the majority of web browsing today. They have almost single handedly engineered a competitive marketplace in the browser space (ok, unfair again to the Mozilla devs, but it's still profound to me to contemplate it).
Thanks, interesting link. I was surprised to see your comment since I keep wanting to go back to Firefox, mainly for its better extensions, but find myself sticking with Chrome because it feels faster to me.
Two things this Lifehacker article did not cover that are important to me: creating new windows and creating new tabs. I do a lot of this. I haven't timed it but if I had to take a guess I'd say Firefox is at least twice as slow as Chrome at making a new window. I think that explains why Chrome feels faster to me.
(OS X 10.6.8, Firefox 7, whatever latest stable Chrome is, in case anyone's wondering.)
Chrome without a doubt feels faster than Firefox to me. I think Firefox's performance has degraded over the past 6 months or so. I can't prove it (just anecdotal based on my experience), but it got so bad that I switched back to Chrome (and have been loving it).
That's actually a brilliant way of putting things. Personally, what matters to me most is that the UI very rarely if ever hangs. I don't really mind how long it takes to do things, so long as it doesn't occasionally take 3 seconds to respond to a click (even on a top-spec MBP, I'm looking at you FF & especially Safari). The perfectly streamlined design helps too :-)
In terms of real-world scripting, almost any script I've benchmarked has always been ~1.5-2 times faster in Chrome than firefox (versions 4 through 6), except when bound by API calls (last I checked Firefox was on-par or better when dealing with TypedArrays). It looks like TypeInference might be a really big win though.
It's important for Mozilla to stay relevant and strong. When corporate behemoths are going at it having a nonprofit who is only interested in the good of the web with no ulterior motives keeps everyone honest.
Back when IE6 was released, ten years ago (!!), it was really starting to look like Microsoft had won the browser war. Browsing the web with anything other than IE on a Windows machine was an increasingly crippling experience.
It was a very grim time.
Fortunately, a number of web developers held out of a viable alternative to a Win32/IE monopoly. When Firefox was finally good enough for general use it was embraced by many web developers, Google in particular. By 2005 many prominent new web sites (Gmail and Google Reader, for two) took special care to support Firefox from day 1, something that was would have been unheard-of only a few years earlier. At that point it was clear that Microsoft could not win the browser war, and IE development languished.
I understand your sentiment, as I have to make sure the apps I make work on IE6. But don't ever forget that it's your browser that's broken (and possibly your company's IT policies), rather than the web (in most cases).
I've shown Chrome to a lot of people, ranging from "fairly technical" to "what's a web browser?" The response is a near unanimous "wow!" I don't think any have gone back to Internet Explorer, although Firefox might have reclaimed a couple.
my experience has been the exact opposite. almost everybody i've encouraged to switch has been turned off by a UI that doesn't look identical to IE. they need the buttons to be where they are used to seeing them. hopefully the IE9 transition helps these people get used to a new UI, but i suppose most of them will just not upgrade to that either.
After seeing how all the ads and flash websites slow down my dad's Firefox browsing experience, I tried to switch him to Chrome. After a while, he switched back to Firefox by himself.
The reason? He uses the dropdown box in the location bar as a kind of bookmarking mechanism. Chrome doesn't have such a location bar. And he's not content with using real bookmarks, it has to be the location bar dropdown and nothing else.
Important Note: This is based on StatCounter, which is definitely not indicative of the overall web. Something like Net Applications gives a much more accurate picture and shows Chrome at 15.51% at Firefox at about 22.57%: http://www.webmasterworld.com/r.cgi?f=145&d=4368971&...
It does vary a lot by geographic region. Europe shows higher Firefox numbers. And, if I recall correctly, Firefox is number one in a few countries (Germany, Russia).
I'm not absolutely sure because Opera, Firefox and all the versions of IE combined have a very close market shares, and yes, Chrome is running up fast too. But I remember Opera held "the most popular single version of browser" the last time I checked.
Chrome now comes bundled with the Adobe Flash updater. This is probably a large contributor to Chrome's climbing popularity. Chrome is also bundled with Google's other applications and with Skype (but I'm sure Microsoft will end that).
I dont care who is #1 or #2 as long as it isn't IE and IE just goes away completely. I work in a real estate industry and it seems like so many of our customers are still using IE7 and have no clue how to work a computer which just makes it even more frustrating.
I've often wondered how Mozilla's status as a non-profit affects its prospects. I've heard that its tough sometimes to recruit and retain because of the lack of lucrative exit possibilities for employees (e.g. IPO).
Don't know if Chrome is going to overtake IE, but it would definitely be good to see it give it a go.
I'm a Mozilla employee. I don't think our lack of a future IPO has hurt us at all, as far as hiring goes. Mozilla pays really well, and we have quarterly bonuses to offset our lack of stock options. If a massive exit is what someone is looking for, I don't think Mozilla would be a good fit, anyway.
Additionally, most employees work for Mozilla Corporation, which is a for-profit corporation owned by the non-for-profit.
At the moment, they have a technical plan, working on the features and infrastructure that hold Firefox back. For example, they've put a lot of effort into reducing memory foot-print, into optimizing their 2D graphics stack, making it possible to have simple add-ons that work reliably across Firefox upgrades and even small things like "how much screen real-estate is taken up by non-web-content".
Once they've paid off some of the technical debt they built up with long-term supported releases, and they have a product that will wow Chrome users, I'm sure you'll hear their marketing department kicking into gear.
The types Mozilla tends to attract are likely to be FOSS crusaders, who care more about working on free software than lucrative exits.
Also, exits are only a consideration for startup employees. 98% of programmers are working for corporations that have already had their exit, and so the primary considerations (as they are for employees everywhere) are salary, benefits, and options. I can't see Mozilla being too far behind the market on salary and benefits, and stock options tend to be pretty worthless for the average employees anyway due to blackouts and whatnot.
That's correct almost every Mozilla employee strongly believe in FOSS values, but not just that.
They all believe in the Mozilla mission and manifesto, aka, each one I have meet so far wants an open web, and a fair future where we don't have any kind of vendor lock-in.
Not only that, but also a choice on our privacy.
If either MS, Google, or any such company gets a large percentage of the user base (75%?) again, the web is going to be locked and not very privacy oriented again.
Don't think for a second that Google cares much. They don't do evil, but they'll do as bad as their business requires.
They do use their quasi monopoly right now to promote Chrome and it works extremely well. Chrome is a very good browser but you may understand that such growth is not due to that alone, in fact, being a good browser is only a requirement, not the actual factor of the growth.
Unfortunately it will be used to enforce Google control over the web.
Is this desktop-only, or does it also count the Chrome browser on Android? If the latter, this could go a long way towards explaining Chrome's meteoric rise relative to FF and IE, which lack mobile presence.
While most of the people are discussing what each browser 'stands for' or its main goals, we should not forget about simple practical aspects.
Apart from deals between mozilla and google, I much prefer to support the mozilla foundations than google. And when on linux I actually use chromium instead of chrome. Furthermore I even think the whole firefox concept focused more on real features rather targeting the dumbest possible user as chrome does.
But even considering all these aspects, I use chrome mostly because it has had a clutter-free UI for a while, fires up much faster and has a proper implementation of incognito mode.
Like many people, I use a browser all day, I cannot afford not to be pragmatic in here. If firefox catches up on these important aspects, I will for sure move back. It does look like they got finally they're act together and started to make major improvements. Let's wait and see.