>All this means is we'll have to go back to the old ways of sniffing out browsers, and I fail to see how that's better.
The situation is no different just now, because -webkit- applies to Safari, Opera and many mobile browsers, not just Chrome. :/
>Nor do I look forward to a deluge of websites prompting me to fiddle with a config to "get the full experience".
Most web developers have very little sway when marketing or clients demand certain things, and this is likely to be something they demand.
"Use a modern browser [actually, Chrome] to get the full experience" is not an uncommon sight these days.
>"Use a modern browser [actually, Chrome] to get the full experience" is not an uncommon sight these days.
Yup, and it's sucky. It's no different to "this site is optimised for Internet Explorer".
Well, this won't help you here anyway. By the sounds of things, features won't be enabled by default until they're ready. Things currently aren't unprefixed until they're ready. The only way to avoid IE if the feature is unprefixed is UA sniffing.
>Yup, and it's sucky. It's no different to "this site is optimised for Internet Explorer".
It's quite different, actually. Chrome is just quick at implementing web standards, they aren't dictating things and people aren't relying on proprietary APIs.
More so, as I said that particular problem was not nearly as bad as people targeting the rendering of their site to the particular quirks of one particular browser. That was horrible, but it's not even remotely the same problem we face today.
To answer your sort-of question, that time was overshadowed when it became obvious that IE6 (and later IE7) was the absolute worst choice. And that's a reputation Microsoft is still trying to clean, years later.