I like Scoble for providing us access to all kinds of interesting people and ideas. Not his opinions.
I mean seriously, calling the guy and asking him for his opinion is like talking to the door man outside some important persons building.
> If you’re a European and work in tech in San Francisco, every summer you’ll be inundated with dozens of emails from friends, contacts and unknown European entrepreneurs who will ask you for advice and introductions to US investors for their classic VC fundraising trip.
Possibly due to a biased sample, the post exaggerates the attractiveness of the US for skilled Europeans founders.
Seems like a variant of the old MS strategy of "embrace, extend, exterminate". The open source movement was in part motivated by a desire to limit Microsoft's control over software users in the nineties.
Perhaps it's time for an organized "open internet" movement to build protocols and communities that resist the tendency toward centralization of data and control of user experience that's increasingly evident in the services offered by the big players (and even the smaller ones - today, I wanted to post a comment on a blog article, only to discover that the latest version of Disqus has disabled OpenID support).
I think walled-gardenism on the internet has far more dangerous implications than closed-source software ever did, and it's really sad to see this spreading meme of building walled gardens as the only path to commercial success infecting Google.
As the OP, I agree it's sad that decentralized standards haven't "won" in the way they were expected to 10 years ago; it's the reason we now have Facebook, Twitter, and Google connect buttons instead of just Open ID.
The question is, when you say "it's time", how do you make it happen? Google tried to make it happen with standards like OpenSocial, but the trade-off for increased flexibility was often poorer UX, and meanwhile they watched developers jump onto standards that were more closed, but had many more users.
There's certainly a sweet spot where open standards meet a mainstream user base; the web and HTML5 overall continue to do fine, notwithstanding heavy competition from the more closed native platforms. This is very much due to the great amount of innovation amongst browsers and web apps, both of which touch the user directly, and less because users care about open for open's sake.
So my suggestion is if you want to encourage open standards, focus on the user first.
> The question is, when you say "it's time", how do you make it happen
I'd say a good starting point would be something akin to the GNU project for protocols and services. Stallman's work made alignment with a particular set of principles the overriding goal of software development, and as much as this is often regarded as an extreme position for prioritizing ideals over the practical value of the software, it's hard to deny that it certainly shifted the 'center' of discourse to a point that gave enough weight to user freedom to enable a thriving ecosystem of open-source software that satisfies both practical use cases and the ideals of software freedom well enough.
We've seen a lot of one-off projects that have attempted to create distributed, user-centric services and protocols - OpenID, Diaspora, etc. - but these haven't aligned into an overarching "open internet movement" where projects build upon each other's work, or endeavored to promote a unified vision of the open internet.
Basically, the principles of an open internet ought to be articulated in a coherent statement of purpose - something akin to the FSF's "four freedoms" - and attached to some effective branding. The ideal needs to become a meme.
Marketing the idea of the open internet shouldn't be too hard: there are already plenty of examples of people's lives and workflows being severely disrupted by service shutdowns, business-model restructuring, security breaches, and so on, to which outsourced non-commodity software-as-a-service offerings are uniquely susceptible.
When we look at the kinds of practical concerns that have lead to this structural milieu - i.e. the situation in which service vendors are actually able to shoehorn their users into walled gardens - the single factor that pops out is the fact that the service vendor itself is in control of the platform on which the server operates, and can therefore modify the structure of the application or protocol without restraint.
The first order of business for a practical solution, and the first kind of product that ought to be developed, is something that breaks that combination, and gives users a level of control over the web applications they use that's akin to what they expect for desktop apps.
What if everyone had their own VPS, with a user-friendly UI to install and configure server-side applications, that give them the ubiquitous access and ease-of-use they're currently getting from webapps while still leaving them in control of their own user experience, and allowed them to choose what products to install, what versions of those products to use, and what features to enable?
A VPS-as-end-user-platform model would break the current platform/service combination that lends itself to walled gardens, and allow the VPS providers to compete on price and quality of their commodity service, while application developers would compete to encourage users to install commercial or free web-based RSS readers, OpenID implementations, social-networking nodes, email clients, etc. onto their own VPS instances.
I don't think the problem is commercialization per se; it's the short-sightedness and narrowness of the current commercialization strategies that are the source of the problem.
Google became a multi-billion dollar company by supporting and contributing to the open internet over the course of ten years; their current worrying tactics are very recent. So we know that it's very possible to be wildly successful without undermining your customers' interests (and in the long term, undermining your customers' interests is almost always unsustainable).
The problem is that we've got big players like Google and Facebook who have become risk-averse as they grown, and, having maximized the potential of their original founding visions, have shifted into consolidating their positions in order to preserve the status quo at the expense of others. This is a pattern that seems to recur again and again in the industry.
The way to break it, of course, is to be the source of the creative destruction that undermines the status quo - few large, vested enterprises are willing to do this, though, which is why we see them ultimately becoming dinosaurs who are displaced by startups operating under new paradigms.
I'd hoped that Google, given its nature, would be the one organization that might be able to avert the pattern, but I guess not; they should be doing exactly the opposite of what they're doing now, and support a wide range of products and services, and looking for innovative monetization strategies for products that aren't immediately profitable. But instead, they're going for ultra-focus on what seems to work in the here and now, and trying to entrench the status quo, which will take them down the well-trod path to eventual failure.
You'd actually need to build the software that gets used, not just protocols.
The majority of the browser usage is with three pieces of software: IE (Microsoft), Chrome (Google), Safari (Apple). None of these players really have a huge stake in 'openness'. We're computing at their mercy right now, and if/when they decide to adopt some new protocols (or drop support for others) we all just have to suck it up. Move to Firefox is a good option right now, but might not be in a few years.
depending on what target you're looking at, yes, for now. firefox has nothing on mobile right now - it's chrome/safari on mobile by a longshot, and mobile is the hot growth area. But yeah, point taken.
> The majority of the browser usage is with three pieces of software: IE (Microsoft), Chrome (Google), Safari (Apple). None of these players really have a huge stake in 'openness'.
The problems come from the applications and services that use the web itself as a platform, and attempt to "embrace, extend, and exterminate" open protocols, like RSS and OpenID, in order to lock users into relying on proprietary APIs instead of open standards.
As the previous commenter pointed out, the threats today come from Google, Facebook, and Twitter, not from the traditional desktop software vendors. (Only Chrome is really concerning here, since they're attempting to use Chrome as a way of shoehorning users into Google services, much in the same way that Microsoft leveraged their OS dominance in the '90s to boost their desktop applications, especially IE.)
The post is spot on. Firefox is a great browser, but reading the OP's last paragraphs, users rarely choose software for quality alone.
The most popular alternatives to Firefox are Google's Chrome and Microsoft's Internet Explorer. I doubt these alternative browsers would exist if they were not useful for Google's and Microsofts main businesses. These companies produce web browsers to support their main products/services. The rationale behind AOL Explorer (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AOL_Browser) was similar. In settings like those privacy and other interests of web users are easily sacrificed.
Out of all the big browsers, Mozilla Firefox comes closest to being a web browser for the sake of web browsing.
Just to add, users rarely choose their software at all. If we're talking about the unwashed masses here, then the primary reason Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Safari are popular at all is almost entirely due to placement.
Joe consumer, comprising an ever increasing majority of the Internet population, simply doesn't care about which browser she is using. More often it is a result of what randomly got installed as the default through their last foray of random clicking and purchases. As a result, Chrome's regular placement on the Google homepage (and IE's default-installation) give it obvious "competitive" edges.
Of course when discussing browser market share this is rarely mentioned, instead popularity is usually attributed to fractional nanosecond differences in rendering time and so on that 99% of users never notice, and simply won't care about even if you told them.
(Edit: there is another reason to appreciate Mozilla in here, in that their efforts seem less focused on branding and positioning than they are much more so on function and vision. Mozilla's endgame shares a certain utilitarian theme compatible with what the masses seem to expect from technology (it's a "computer" with the "Internet" on it, not a "Chromebook" with "Google" on it), than does just about every other company in this space who are using their platforms to sell people more shit they don't need)
I try not to tell less tech-savvy people any more that IE opens their computer to viruses, because afaik it's not really true any more. Back in the day many exploits targeted IE/ActiveX specifically, but nowadays it's Flash and Java that make holes in any browser. (Somebody correct me if I'm wrong and IE is still significantly more vulnerable)
But you can't convince people to drop Java if they as much have one site/app depending on it. I'd love to install an alternative non-Oracle Java (not because they're significantly more secure, but to diversify the ecosystem a bit, and to stick it to Oracle for bundling that Ask toolbar), but I haven't figured out how to install them in Win7 yet. (that's not for other people btw, but for the computers at the kids centre I teach)
Still, what I wanted to say, the reason I do give them Chrome (or Firefox, or Opera), is because I'm absolutely unfamiliar with IE, no idea how to enable the proper security settings (or if there are any) and I do want to help many people with an AdBlocker (which also can do wonders for one's Internet security, btw).
Chrome is far safer than IE:
1. built in flash (sandboxed and up-to-date)
2. built in PDF reader
3. security updates are not delayed
4. the filtering is very good
5. friends & family on XP or Vista get the latest version
There are other good reasons why the security is better, with the only downside being the invasion of privacy, where Google are no worse than others, so pick your poison.
Which is still slower: making the assumption that automatic updates are actually enabled (which is often not the case), Microsoft's update cycle is slower (monthly) whereas Chrome & Firefox have both deployed patches within a day of learning about a new zero-day. Microsoft also does not update Flash (prior to Windows 8) or blacklist known-insecure plugins as quickly – better than in the past, to be sure, but still concerning as the reaction loop speeds up.
And the important part is that Microsoft rapidly depreciates updates on old versions of Windows all the time. The adoption of Windows 7 in the poweruser space is probably significantly higher than the adoption in the grandparents category of people still running 2003 - 2004 Dells with XP. Most of them, if unassisted by more tech savvy relatives, would still be running IE 6 - 8, and 9+ won't be backported. Throw Firefox or Chrome on those old PCs and they will stay auto-updated forever.
IE's updates are always limited to what version of windows your running. In theory windows update should be good enough, but I know plenty of people who can't upgrade to the latest version of IE and see no need to upgrade there computer.
Well said. in 2008 i was a big advocate for firefox. Yet my clients knew about chrome and wanted to use it. But nobody aside from technies stuck with it. My wife still uses FF exclusively.
However chrome became stable. And then it built on it -- multi processing made one site not crash the browser. Startup speeds were fast, etc. Eventually I switched. It was a minimalistic interface that I could teach to my grandparents. And performance was ALWAYS great.
So the question remains: Switch back to FF? I vote no, until they finally implement what IE has done since IE9 -- multi processing, or solve the damn problem in other ways. Also chrome's sandbox is pretty much unbypassed except for a couple of times in pwn2own (all the exploits are already patched)
Mozilla focusing on the user while google on profit is a point, but it is not a selling point. Show me features. So far chrome's porn mode has been an innovator in the space, and firefox had to hack that mode on to their browser. So from an objective perspective... idk.
When it comes to Chrome, in many cases it's not even conscious or explicit user choice. Chrome is aggressively pushed as opt-out shovelware with installers of unrelated software (e.g. CCleaner) and is set up as the default browser if the user doesn't deselect the options.
If you try to install Flash on Windows, by default Chrome gets installed too (and probably prompts you to make it default). It doesn't even ask you at install time, it's a default checked checkbox on the webpage you download from - very easy to miss.
I don't think it's regional. I'm in Sweden and if I visit the Flash install page with IE I get Chrome as pre-selected and if I visit with Firefox I get the McAfee add-on. (And when I'm using Linux, as usual, there are no extra applications installed.)
This is a very elitist and snobbish piece of writing and almost entirely inaccurate. Just for fun, I rewrote it a bit:
Just to add, users rarely choose their car at all. If we're talking about the unwashed masses here, then the primary reason Ford, Toyota, GM, or Volkswagon are popular at all is almost entirely due to happenstance. Joe consumer, comprising an ever increasing majority of the car buying population, simply doesn't care about which car she is driving. More often it is a result of what randomly went up for sale at the corner car lot. As a result, Ford's regular placement on the edge of the car lot give it "competitive" edges.
I'm having trouble understanding what point you're trying to make. What, exactly, is "entirely inaccurate" about the comment? How is your rendition with physical cars similar? How is it snobbish in the least?
Using terms like "unwashed masses" and "Joe sixpack" to describe the computer users of working class background where I come from is insulting. Why not just go all the way and them call them "white trash"? The inaccuracy I was trying to highlight with my rewrite was your idea that people of lower means and education don't care about what browser they use, presumably in your view because they are too ignorant to know the difference. Obviously, this is not the case with automobiles and is also not the case in choice of computers, browsers, mobile phones, etc... You don't have to have a college degree and a six figure income to be discerning about technology.
Speaking as someone of "lower means" and mostly with a lifelong dedication to computers, I don't particularly care what software I use, and if you forced me to try and rationalize my choices, most likely I would, like the majority of people on the planet, spout mostly meaningless bullshit.
The "tech savvy" only differ in one sense: they are incredibly more delusional about their choices than the rest of the planet. I certainly haven't taken the time to study Chrome's design in depth (or for that matter Firefox's), and probably never will. My reasoning for using Firefox is due to a vague-warm-fuzzy ideological alignment I seem to have with Mozilla and their approach to software. Nothing quantitative, and certainly nothing adequately logical that I could use it to command authority over anyone else on the planet. In fact exactly the kind of thought processes that "joe user" experiences ("I like the icon.. it bounces"). 23 years spent in front of a machine, and that's still pretty much me.
I think (correct me if I'm wrong) that you misunderstood the post you were replying to. It seems that what your parent post was saying is that people respond that they use "Google" as in "Google search" (whether on Firefox or IE or Chrome or Opera or..), not as in "Google Chrome". THAT mistake is far from just a semantic issue, but demonstrates a lack of understanding of what a browser is, or even its existence as something discrete from the websites they use.
To make the example clearer, I've personally had the experience of asking someone what browser they use and getting "Yahoo" (as in the Yahoo.com homepage) as an answer.
If it's a matter of security, speed, or an issue with how a particular website is rendered, knowing that somebody uses "google" as a web browser is of little help when attempting a diagnosis, regardless of their point of reference.
> Using terms like "unwashed masses" and "Joe sixpack" to describe the computer users of working class background where I come from is insulting. Why not just go all the way and them call them "white trash"?
This highlights your confusion. The set of people that have average computer savvy contains all kinds of races and economic standing. It has nothing to do with "working class," wealth, or racial status and everything to do with computer skills.
> You don't have to have a college degree and a six figure income to be discerning about technology.
I'm not going to point any fingers, but I just want to say someone has some massive insecurities.
> someone has some massive insecurities.
That's true. My father and mother were constantly on the verge of going broke, even though they both were employed and worked very hard to save. Medical bills were a real problem. Growing up insecure, it's not surprising I have insecurities. I did manage to get accepted to U.C. Berkeley, although I couldn't finish because my parents or I couldn't afford it and didn't have the skills needed to pursue all the financial aid options.
> The set of people that have average computer savvy contains all kinds of races and economic standing
How is that different from what I'm saying? Saying the "unwashed masses" don't care about what browser they use is inaccurate. That's all.
You still haven't shown it to be inaccurate. It may simply be that the wealthy elite doesn't care either. That'd certainly be my guess.
To the users, browsers are mostly homogeneous, and choosing one over the other incurs in almost no cost (real or of opportunity). It stands to reason that most people (regardless of class) don't have any incentive to care, and therefore they don't.
That's just not the case or Microsoft wouldn't advertise it's "Do not track" feature, people wouldn't switch to Chrome just for incognito mode, and more people would be using IE on their Windows machines because it comes pre-installed. People do care.
So, "Do Not Track", first introduced by firefox and supported in just about all browsers, incognito mode, supported by all browsers (including pre-chrome)...
The market share of IE (and the usage habits of people of both normal and more advanced tech knowledge) points to the fact that people frequently DO use IE (or safari) because it's pre-installed and only change when it just happens (chrome getting installed and set as default by various other installers being a good example)
Wikitionary: unwashed masses (plural only)
(idiomatic) The collective group ("mass") of people who are considered by someone to be somehow uneducated, uninformed, or in some other way unqualified for inclusion in the speaker's elite circles.
It's implied. I'm trying to think of a group of unwashed above average income people. Burning Man attendees are the only group that comes to mind. Maybe you live in a country where rich people don't wash up. Edit: then there's the filthy rich.
You'd be astounded at how your "whatever's up for sale" comment mirrors reality. The vast, vast majority of sales are from local inventory, very few people place orders for specific options, colors, etc. Most people shop for deals rather than specific models or even brands. That's why you see so many multi brand dealers. Positioning is also key, that's why the largest dealers are right off highway exits and why so many dealers end up next to each other on the same road.
The Big 3 made it through the miserable 70's and 80's mostly because they had dealers on every corner while superior Japanese brands were fighting to get lots built anywhere.
Agreed. On my 2GB netbook, Chrome was one of the first apps I installed. At the time, it was a lean and lightweight browser. But recently Chrome's memory bloat has gotten so bad, I had to switch to Firefox. One killer is the GPU process often taking 200+MB.
Before giving up, and switching to FF, I tried the --disable-gpu --disable-software-rasterizer switches to disable the GPU process but that prevented videos from playing at full speed.
Some people here mentioned Chrome runs great on their rigs with 16GB of RAM. But for the rest of the world, Google should force their devs to use Chrome on a machine with a mere 2GB.
How is it that sites like anandtech and investing.com run fine on my old iPhone 3GS, yet take up 256+ MB in Chrome, more RAM than the phone has? Somehow the 3 year old phone loads and displays the sites smooth as butter. Apple is doing something right or Google is doing something terribly wrong to webkit.
> Try removing some of your Chrome extensions down and you'll be back in the 50MB range.
Thanks, but I'm a extremely tech savvy user. When I first noticed Chrome getting slow on my netbook, I created a fresh profile and removed all my extensions.
It's clear from my own experience, posts here, and benchmarks that Chrome has strayed from it's original design goals of being a lightweight browser. My reference to this iPhone was just to point out that I think it's a issue with Chrome itself, and not the underlining webkit browser.
> It's clear from my own experience, posts here, and benchmarks that Chrome has strayed from it's original design goals of being a lightweight browser.
It's clear that it's fashionable in certain circles to claim this. It's also clear that these claims are based on subjective impressions rather than anything measured, which makes me suspicious given that an effect of that magnitude should be obvious and I haven't seen any sign of it.
If you have actual data showing that the current Chrome browser performs worse than it used to, I'm sure the Chrome development team would love to see it.
I've uninstalled EVERY plugins in Chrome. It still freezes up occasionally. Very very annoying. Had to keep remind me that it's a good time to take a break when that happens. No, it's not the Flash plugin as many have mentioned because it is also disabled/uninstalled. So what now?
"The most popular alternatives to Firefox are Google's Chrome and Microsoft's Internet Explorer. I doubt these alternative browsers would exist if they were not useful for Google's and Microsofts main businesses."
The generic argument is empty. Firefox is good for Mozilla's business. Same for Opera.
The business cases for IE and Chrome are significantly different. Distributing IE with Windows benefits users for the same reasons that Ubuntu Linix distros ship with Firefox - they providing a rational and reasonable path from the act of stuffing an install disk into a drive to the point where the user is surfing the internet and possibly completing the installation. IE allows windows to be used right out of the box.
It's hard to make that sort of case for Chrome - but easy for Safari. Chrome was primaily developed to improve Google's data mining and reduce search server loads by collecting keystokes from the address bar.
>It's hard to make that sort of case for Chrome - but easy for Safari. Chrome was primaily developed to improve Google's data mining and reduce search server loads by collecting keystokes from the address bar.
This statement is not just technically ignorant; it's downright absurd. More than probably any company, Google lives and dies by the web as a platform. Chrome is Google's best way to influence and improve that platform. It's why Google previously had a team of mostly former Mozilla/Netscape employees contributing fulltime to Firefox (including one of the original creators of Firefox), and why that team eventually chose to create Chrome. When the web is so essential to your business, it only makes sense to invest heavily in its improvement, and ensure you have a say in its trajectory.
This is a fair argument, but "improving the web as a platform" doesn't necessarily equal "good for the web". If a local developer (I mean a land developer here) runs for city council because he believes in his city and wants to improve it for the good of his business, it's still quite possible that the decisions he makes could be bad for the city as a whole in the long run (i.e. favoring parts of town he develops over others for services, businesses, etc.).
I'm not saying Chrome is a data-mining tool (though I don't doubt that it could be doing some of that), but it's also not a purely altruistic contribution to the community. Google is the big developer that's doing lots of beautification and really contributing to the growth of the city, but Firefox is the community activist that's trying to make sure all the developers play by the rules that benefit everyone, not just them.
Google lives and die by its ability to deliver eyeballs and credit cards to advertisers, nothing else. Never forget that. That they want to "help the web" or "help the internet" is only a strategic play to help their primary objective.
Stupidity isn't about the individual developers -- it's about the incompetent decisions that Microsoft made about the browser. They decided that IE would be released only in-sync with new Windows releases. Vista troubles meant IE was effectively on hiatus between 2001 (IE6) and 2006 (IE7). Corporate interests were definitely keeping IE development back, but not as an intentional defensive move to sabotage the Web. Lack of competition in browsers during that period served as a pretty good demotivator, too.
"One thing we have got to change in our strategy - allowing Office documents to be rendered very well by other peoples browsers is one of the most destructive things we could do to the company. We have to stop putting any effort into this and make sure that Office documents very well depends on PROPRIETARY IE capabilities."
-- Bill Gates, 1998 a memo to the Office product group
Seems like the guy in charge knew when to actively "stop putting effort into" things and intentionally sabotage the open web when necessary.
Ironically the reason I've tried my best to avoid MS Office is because they are not easily accessible by anyone. I once sent my CV as an HTML file along with a PDF. Still to this day, I prefer to send HTML and PDF over sending a Word document they only need an app that everybody uses, a browser.
What is more believable is that spell check in the browser is somewhat of an edge case relative to general browser usage (i.e. web consumption) which Microsoft was historically able to address by allowing plug-ins. They rolled it into the development of their plug-inless browser and rolled their plug-inless browser into their not quite so backward compatible OS release.
I suspect that the corporate interests have long known that IE is not a sales critical feature.
That is patent nonsense. The web grew because Windows users were able to browse it with IE in the days before Netscape and when the second choice was going with *nix and Mosaic. IE killed Gopher by taking browsing to the masses.
>That is patent nonsense. The web grew because Windows users were able to browse it with IE in the days before Netscape and when the second choice was going with *nix and Mosaic.
There were no IE days before Netscape. Netscape came first, and IE was originally just a defensive response. That's not to deny that there was a period where IE was arguably a superior browser, but IE simply would not have have been created were it not for Netscape becoming the first mainstream browser.
What evidence do you have that Microsoft would not have created a web browser but for Netscape? Or rather licensed one, because that's what they did when they could not purchase Booklink.
Had Microsoft not shipped a browser with Windows, browsers would have remained obscure shareware like Netscape Navigator and AOL or Compuserve would have been the standard online experience of most people for much longer.
From Bill Gates's "Internet Tidal Wave" internal memo:
"A new competitor "born" on the Internet is Netscape. Their browser is dominant, with 70% usage share, allowing them to determine which network extensions will catch on. They are pursuing a multi-platform strategy where they move the key API into the client to commoditize the underlying operating system. They have attracted a number of public network operators to use their platform to offer information and directory services. We have to match and beat their offerings including working with MCI, newspapers, and other who are considering their products."
The past is never dead, and so we shovel it full of the present when we talk about it.
70% of browser usage was probably less than 1,000,000 browsers in 1994 and those primarily in large commercial and educational settings. The consumer internet didn't exist because the web wasn't viable at 9600 baud (2738 websites of which 370 were .com in June '94).
I seriously doubt IE did much for the adoption of the world wide web. By the time IE made a dent, WWW was already a huge success and obviously growing rapidly. Being (eventually) pervasive it almost certainly introduced some people to the internet, but if it hadn't been MS it would have been someone else.
I bet the adoption was faster that it would have been if microsoft hadn't integrated IE. Of course, if microsoft hadn't integrated IE it's quite possible company would have died by now (or been a footnote of desktop computing history - like IBM). They didn't really have much of a choice.
IE bootstrapped access to Navigator for the general population of computer users. People got Navigator using IE to download it from Netscape's website - just like they get Chrome, Firefox, and Opera today.
Until IE shipped with Windows, the only way a typical user was going to get Netscape was on a floppy disk via the shareware community or perhaps from a BBS. It wasn't being downloaded through AOL or Compuserve and if it was, what would one have done with it August 1995?
It would be naive to ignore Netscape's IPO occurred one week before IE 1.0.
What you say is probably true for IE, AOL browser, etc., but Chrome (when it came out) was really just a better browser. It was significantly faster than any browser of its time, the new interface to increase vertical space was wonderful, the auto-update was a great feature, the tab sandboxing was great. I had been using Firefox for a long long time before I jumped ship to Chrome.
But now I'll try Firefox again because of this post. :)
> It was significantly faster than any browser of its time
How was it faster than Opera? I have never seen another browser give you the previous page instantly when pressing the back button. Chrome needs to start its spinners for a few ms and then reflow the page, Opera just does it. I'm hoping that, with the move to WebKit, I can switch back to it.
EDIT: I just checked, Firefox does this too. It didn't, at the time that Chrome was released, though.
Firefox and Chrome both do this. It is part of the memory caching, which many people disable without knowing the consequences. There were many news articles back around Chrome's release that advised "speed-ups" by disabling cache to free up memory.
Maybe this is due to their infinite caching? There was a article on HN a while back about how it impacted performance after a while. Turns out checking a large cache of files (apparently with a poor choice of data structure backing the search) for visited links ends up being non-negligible a year into browsing.
I thought I saw that being debunked by a Chrome developer, I remember him saying that this was changed a while ago, and now the cache has a maximum limit. Clearing the cache doesn't seem to do anything for this problem, though (the page still reflows). It doesn't take more than a few ms, but it's annoying when other browsers do it instantly.
TraceMonkey was in the works since late Spring 2008. Apple was also doing more advanced JS performance work before Chrome launched.
V8 had the world-class VM team and at least two years lead (Lars Bak went to Google in 2004; I met him in August 2006 when he was definitely working on V8), so it indeed was fastest at the usual benchmarks, but not by the sometimes-asserted 3x factor.
Maciej Stachowiak of Apple and I were both noting back then how V8's advantage seemed more like 1.3x at the time, but I don't have performance charts from Sep 2008 at hand. Perhaps someone reading does.
V8 got faster over time, as did other engines. Again, it's an excellent piece of work and tops by many measures, but not all -- see http://kripken.github.com/mloc_emscripten_talk/#/17 for two large benchmarks of three where SpiderMonkey beats V8 currently.
Speaking as a dev, but from a user's POV, the thing that made jump to Chrome on release day was the immediate recognition that a single bogged down tab did not impact the responsiveness of the chrome (heh) and other tabs noticeably.
I remember, vividly, in Firefox: I would middle-click on a Slashdot link to load it in the background while reading the current one. My focused tab would begin to hesitate and sometimes altogether freeze for several seconds. In Chrome, only the spinning tab would be affected by their bloated DOM.
For me the speed-up I liked in Chrome was the UI responsiveness, and start-up time. And it seemed to just load pages faster. My current browser of choice is surf from suckless.org (although it's pretty limited) because it somehow just manages to load pages in a quarter the time of Chrome/Firefox (on my computer/internet connection, anyway). I'm sure it'd lose in js benchmarks though.
For me tab sandboxing was basically the reason I switched from Firefox. For years I thought it was normal for the browser to slow down and become increasingly unresponsive the more tabs you had open. It was frustrating, but you had to accept it was your "fault", you can't possibly have 30 tabs open and expect the browser to be cool with that, I thought. Then Chrome came, and I was SO blown away by being able to have dozens of open tabs without the slightest change in the overall performance of the browser, I didn't even care I couldn't use many of the extensions I had on FF. I couldn't help but recommend everyone I knew to do the switch aswell after realizing I would not be back to FF.
> Out of all the big browsers, Mozilla Firefox comes closest to being a web browser for the sake of web browsing.
There's a flip side to this coin; Firefox exists to support Mozilla's main business, which is the web.
This also means that Mozilla staunchly and without fail opposes any technological shift that could unseat the entrenched market position of the existing web technology stack, even if it would improve things for end users.
Google developed SPDY, NaCL, Dart, all in an effort to improve the underlying constraints of delivering code/information -- in any form -- to users.
If we only had Mozilla, we'd be locked into HTTP/HTML/CSS/DOM/JS forever. Technology has to evolve to move forward, but Mozilla has very little reason to want the web to evolve.
Mozilla, Apple, and Microsoft will not implement NaCl and Dart because they feel that they are technically worse than alternatives (asm.js and either ES6 or compiling other languages to JS).
The technical problems will ultimately provide a worse experience to end users. For example, NaCl is not portable, meaning that users' apps will not work on all the users' devices like they expect, and PNaCl is not backwards compatible, so the apps won't work on all browsers. Dart threatens to make garbage collection slower because of cross-language cycle collection, which results in a worse experience to end users.
Mozilla has every reason to want the Web to evolve. If the Web doesn't evolve and loses to native platforms, Mozilla becomes irrelevant and dies. How is that not incentive?
After Google designed it, developed it, and then deployed it to their properties. And even then Mozilla was still questioning whether it should be implemented, because "would anyone use it?".
> Mozilla, Apple, and Microsoft will not implement NaCl and Dart because they feel that they are technically worse than alternatives (asm.js and either ES6 or compiling other languages to JS).
We fundamentally disagree on that. I see NaCL as a route to the future of haardware-supported sandboxing, in the same way that virtualization was. NaCL is a way to fundamentally re-invision how we implement sandboxing of process, and move beyond the legacy ring-0 design.
asm.js is just another application-level hack on top of a huge pile of application-level hacks. It's time to coalesce the stack of these hacky abstractions, and clean up shop.
> For example, NaCl is not portable, meaning that users' apps will not work on all the users' devices like they expect, and PNaCl is not backwards compatible, so the apps won't work on all browsers.
So what? You know what happens when I fire up a PPC Mac from 1998 and try to use Netscape 4 on the modern web? Nothing works.
At least something like PNaCL has a MUCH smaller surface area than something like the full HTML/DOM/CSS/JS stack, which makes supporting it in a backwards compatible manner indefinitely far, far easier.
> Mozilla has every reason to want the Web to evolve. If the Web doesn't evolve and loses to native platforms, Mozilla becomes irrelevant and dies. How is that not incentive?
Because the web needs to evolve away from what it currently is, and that's the one thing Mozilla ideologically doesn't want and won't do.
> Pepper is a huge surface area, comparable with the web stack in size.
Mozilla received a leg-up in terms of having the majority of the code donated by a large corporation, and by having the web be compatible with that existing technology stack. I can see how I could spend $1M and have a team implement the Pepper API in 6-12 months, and that includes an independent implementation of NaCL/PNaCL sandboxing (if we leveraged google's development tools).
I can't even begin to imagine trying to create an independent browser stack for any reasonable amount of money.
 This is the current Pepper API documentation:
I didn't realize what you meant before. Yes, if you add the internal stuff of HTML and CSS, it is a lot. But Pepper is comparable in size to the APIs needed for general input and output on the web - both contain rendering, audio, input control, etc. In that respect they are comparable.
The difference is that as a 3rd party, I actually have a snowball's chance in hell of implementing something like Pepper. This improves competitiveness and diversity.
Pepper, NaCL, et al also collapse a huge number of complex and nuanced layered web abstractions back down to the approachable problem of running somewhat arbitrary user code, at speed, in a relatively open and loosely define environment.
That's the same environment that projects like Mozilla needed to ever have the chance of producing a web browser in the first place. It sure seems to me that you guys -- consciously or not -- have divided the market into 'browser makers' and 'non-browser makers', and then decided to constrain the tooling and power available to everyone that is not a browser maker.
The fact is, browsers evolved to render pages. HTML and CSS were invented for that, and JS added to make content more dynamic. So it's not surprising the web has the ability to render documents as a fundamental capability.
NaCl is something new. It isn't meant to render documents. It sandboxes native code.
Both the web and NaCl are great, just for different things.
> Both the web and NaCl are great, just for different things.
Well, now we're getting to the core of it! :)
I agree! I think the web should stick to rendering documents, which it has always done reasonably well, and leave applications to technologies such as NaCL, which people can use to produce the next web browser.
I almost agree. But I don't think the web should stop from improving just because there is stuff like NaCl. If it's easy and straightforward to run code at near-native speeds in JS, and it took just a few months to build the asm.js prototype, then why not?
Given that the above text covers a ton of ground, I'm very curious what parts specifically downvoters are objecting to. Something about the comment (and its location in the thread) seems to have evoked a very negative response, but given the broad and very technical subject matter, I'm not sure exactly what or why.
 NaCL and the future of hardware, Google's investment in SPDY, surface area of NaCL's complexity, evolution of the web ...
Each of these does not threaten the importance of the browser. On the contrary, they both widen the use cases of the browser and raise the entry barrier for competing browsers. These effects protect Mozilla, instead of threatening Mozilla.
On the other hand, Google pushes OAuth single sign-on against Google accounts, whereas Mozilla is pushing Mozilla Persona, a distributed, no-central-authority SSO for the web.
I conclude the exact opposite of what you state. If we use Chrome, we're locked into technologies that serve Google, if we use Firefox we're pushing open technologies.
That requires evolving to embrace the strengths of the non-web mobile app ecosystem -- which means evolving away from the web as Mozilla sees it: dom/js/css/html.
If you accept 'the web' as more of a conceptual ideal of openness, then there's a lot more room for innovation.
Of that self-selecting group, how many of them are likely to want to voluntarily rework and/or abandon core web technologies?
On the other hand, Chrome, existing to further Google's interests, has every reason to employ whatever creative technology solutions are necessary to improve the user experience, even if that means changing or abandoning the legacy web technology stack in the process.
Not a fan of Flash either, but the Internet is not the Web.
You say "The Internet works better" without formats like Flash. To my knowledge the Internet does not discriminate between proprietary and non-proprietary data fromats of its content whereas the basic functions of the Web do (URLs, hyperlinks,...).
LibreOffice does not look nice but it is functional. What is its main function? For many people, it has completely replaced Microsoft Office.
Of course MS Office has an even larger feature set, but few people max it out. Likewise, there are people who will prefer LaTeX but that's a small group. The advocates of web based office systems tend to ignore that desktop systems provide much more privacy. LibreOffice sits right in between those groups and is useful to many.
How does LO not look nice? What exactly is ugly about it? I used MS Office as well, I certainly don't find it beautiful.
I think LO looks nice enough and is good enough and luckily
I'm not alone believing this.
It has been many years since I stopped installing pirated MS Office suites on friends' computers and used OpenOffice and now LibreOffice instead. No complaints so far.
OK. Downloaded 4.0 to check it out. Some examples of what I find 'not nice' in half an hour or so of looking. None of them are showstoppers, but together, they give me the impression of "functional, but I have seen nicer":
Deviations from Mac OS style:
- application menu stays highlighted when preferences dialog is open.
- Does not use standard font and style dialogs => unnecessary learning curve; sharing styles with other applications does not seem possible.
- Does not use standard color dialogs => unnecessary learning curve; sharing palettes with other applications does not seem possible.
- Focus rectangles in dialogs even if that is disabled in system settings.
- OK button on the left, Cancel on the right.
- A setting for not aliasing screen fonts that are too small? Why not follow the system setting?
- Non-standard "Save changes before closing" dialogs:
- weird shape (wide and very low)
- incorrect order of buttons
- non-standard button texts
- non-standard 'Question' icon
- extremely little room between button texts and button borders
- I expect 'Spell check' in the Edit menu, not in the Tools menu.
- "Page Setup" is missing. Instead, we have "Printer Settings"
- Focus rectangles look ugly (should not use dotted lines; dotted line is too close to the text)
- Spacing of lines in tree view in Preferences looks too small to me.
- Way too many settings (examples: a toggle for graphics antialiasing?)
- Why is this still combined as a single application?
- In the Tools-Customize dialog, menu separator lines are drawn using hyphens, not by drawing a line.
- Striped dialog backgrounds in a Mac App released in 2013?
- Help menu's "What's this?" item does not appear to do anything (its feedback is a pointer change, but that change does not happen if there is no window below the mouse. With large screens, it is easy to get there (say when having a HN reply window side by side with a LibreOffice window)
- Help menu has 5 menu items and 3 separator lines.
- Try spell-checking an empty document. Dialog opens, immediately an alert pops up "The spellcheck of this sheet has been completed." If you click OK, both the alert and the spell check dialog close.
- When you make row height lower, row numbers should, at some stage, start using a smaller font. They don't.
I agree that LibreOffice may deviate significantly from OS-native UI conventions, but this is reasonable given its nature as a cross-platform project based on highly-portable OS-independent libraries. And there are plenty of applications that target particular platforms, but employ their own set of custom UI conventions; some are worse than the platform standards, some are better. It's the usability of the application's own set of conventions, and the consistency therein, that should be the basis of judgment; using the OS's stylistic defaults as the benchmark seems relatively arbitrary, especially, again, for a cross-platform application.
I don't know how it compares to iWork, but when I compare LibreOffice to Microsoft Office on the basis of internal consistency, parsimony (for lack of a better term), and even adherence to established platform conventions (on Windows), LibreOffice wins on all counts. With each new version of Office, Microsoft adds yet more UI novelties to its haphazard collection of product-specific menu styles, dialog boxes, and toolbars.
I mean, this is a program, of which a lot of people put a lot of effort and which works pretty well. These people are making the program available for free no strings attached for anyone who wants to download it.
I understand that your personal tastes are too refined for the software, but for a lot of people, having this fully functional and free office suite is a great help.
Or as they say around here "A caballo dado, no se le ve colmillo".
Sure, it's great that it's free and fully functional, but that doesn't mean that anyone's criticisms of its design (which, even you have to admit, are a bit dated by now), aren't warranted simply because it's free.
This is a big problem that quite a few people seem to have. Just because a program is free, does not mean the userbase should have low expectations. It's great that it's accomplished so much, but it needs more work, and design is one of the areas which needs the most work right now. Especially if they are looking to get people to replace Office with it.
And I do agree, it looks okay. It's functional, and the UI gets the job done. But becoming complacent with it because it's free is not the right way to go about it.
I don't have MS Office, but I did buy Numbers, Pages, and Keynote, knowing well that OpenOffice (at the time, LibreOffice did not exist yet) is free and would likely handle many files better. I also do use LibreOffice, but only when I must.
AbiWord seems to fit the niche of a lightweight word processor. That said, the advanced features of LibreOffice don't really get in the way if you don't use them and you can simply ignore them, so there seems little reason to develop a simplified office suite just for the sake of it.
I want to share docs with the internet, or with a small team, have integrated history, have instant editing, have the possibility of more people editing it. I want to have instant access to it from any computer with a browser.
You could probably extend wikis like mediawiki to have live visibility of edits, at the cost of performance. Separate db or redis storage for in-progress edits, and query that before retrieving the last static version of the page...
Not locally: I've seen many organizations admire the synchronization and collaboration features of GDocs, with a major caveat: the data is centralized in the cloud provider's hands, not the organization's. "Oh look, you don't own your data anymore" is a very theoretical scenario, but "oh look, you suddenly can't access your data anymore, we're not bringing them back, and you have no recourse" has happened with many cloud storage services, for various reasons.
Hosting your own network-based office web-app solution would be convenient for many...especially for the security.
> LibreOffice does not look nice but it is functional.
That's an entirely subjective judgment. I happen to think that LibreOffice looks much better than MS Office 2010, especially when considering visual design as a functional rather than a merely decorative quality. Full-screen file menus are ugly and disorienting.
> Of course MS Office has an even larger feature set, but few people max it out.
OTOH, there are features in MS Office that really are useful and aren't well-represented by equivalent features in LibreOffice. Pivot tables in Excel, for example; not everyone may use them, but for those who do, Excel unfortunately has no credible competition.
Since I’ve been out of the Silicon-Valley-centred tech industry, I’ve become increasingly convinced that it’s morally bankrupt and essentially toxic to our society. Companies like Google and Facebook — in common with most public companies — have interests that are frequently in conflict with the wellbeing of — I was going to say their customers or their users, but I’ll say “people” in general, since it’s wider than that. People who use their systems directly, people who don’t — we’re all affected by it, and although some of the outcomes are positive a disturbingly high number of them are negative: the erosion of privacy, of consumer rights, of the public domain and fair use, of meaningful connections between people and a sense of true community, of beauty and care taken in craftsmanship, of our very physical wellbeing. No amount of employee benefits or underfunded Google.org projects can counteract that.
Well hold on a damn minute. True community? The internet didn't erode that, bad city planning and work-centered, geographically unrooted lifestyles did that. Craftsmanship? Commodification and mass manufacturing did that. Physical well-being? Cheap, shitty food and sedentary lifestyles centered around sedentary jobs did that.
Google has historically both been reliant on fair use and the public domain and has defended such in court. I'm not saying they did it out of altruism, but substantial precedents that help solidify fair use come out of Google's activities in court.
This turned out to be a historic announcement. Note that the release was in source and binary form. The liberal copyright policy wisely chosen by Tim Berners-Lee was an important reason for the WWW's success.
In contrast, this post again reminds me that the Usenet-archives are now owned by Google. Are they also available anywhere else? Like the WWW they are part of the world's cultural heritage. It's good that the archives are accessible, but they shouldn't be proprietary.
Some entity must commit funds to storing and keeping those archives available. I understand your concern, but no one company or government is more or less likely to do something folish with those archives than any other.
Google owns the most extensive archives of usenet because it has put in the effort. There's no reason that anyone else couldn't have done the same, they just failed to do so. Google acquired dejanews, an old usenet archival site, and they sought out personal archives as well to expand the collection. We should be happy that they have done anything, the more likely outcome was for no comprehensive archive ever to have been made.
No, it's because they bought the company, Deja, that was responsible for putting the first widespread web interface on Usenet. Google groups used to be just Usenet until it forked into something different (user lists). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Groups#Deja_News
Did you read my post all the way through? I know they acquired dejanews, I said it. But they also went to the effort to make use of deja's archive and to keep it safe. More so, they sought out private usenet archives and integrated them into their collection. Indeed, the very message that sparked this discussion comes from the work that google did and not from the dejanews archive since it dates to 1991, 4 years before deja began operations.
> We should be happy that they have done anything, the more likely outcome was for no comprehensive archive ever to have been made.
I think that's not the case, I think the existence of Google Groups is regarded as "good enough" by groups that might otherwise be doing archiving (Internet Archive, for one). That Groups started out with good intentions isn't surprising, but it has evolved into something completely different. If the intent was to archive an important part of the history of the internet, viewing posts wouldn't be behind a login-wall.
It isn't behind a login wall. If you saw a login screen when trying to access the link, then you must be partially logged into Google in the first place. Try the link in an incognito window and you'll see that no login is required.
Yah I thought I did. I didn't see Deja the first time I read it. May be my mistake because I'm tired from hacking all night (5am here), but it seemed shorter (the whole middle sentence wasn't there) the first time I read your comment.
Most people are complaining about the headline, but it is in line with what Woz is saying:
"I really worry about everything going to the cloud," he said. "I think it's going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years."
He added: "With the cloud, you don't own anything. You already signed it away" through the legalistic terms of service with a cloud provider that computer users must agree to.
"I want to feel that I own things," Wozniak said. "A lot of people feel, 'Oh, everything is really on my computer,' but I say the more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we're going to have control over it."
I wouldn't be surprised if many people around HN do not agree with Woz. After all the cloud is how many here earn their living.
That said, Woz is absolutely right. I wish more people of his standing would speak up.
Most people around HN don't seem to have a problem with using a non-free and closed source operating system. Ultimately, it's all about trusting a company. People who use OSX trust Apple, without asking to see the source code of any part of it. Likewise, in the case of cloud users, it will be trusting another company such as Dropbox or Google. For private data, you can encrypt. For critical data, you can keep local copies.