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Chrome Just Means More Incompatible Web Sites

I hear that Google's coming out with yet-another-web-browser and the product development guy in me immediately says, "Oh great. A third incompatible web browser I'll have to develop and test with." And for what, because Google thinks they can build a better mousetrap? Does the world really need another web browser?

Especially one that will stay in "beta" for years and never be deemed as released software? We already have Microsoft IE, which likes to go it alone and do funky things with HTML no other browsers do, Firefox that never met a memory leak it didn't like, Safari which is only mildly interesting because of how it works on the iPhone, and now Chrome. And for what? Google says multi-threaded browser tabs, each tab running in it's own processes and memory allocation to reduce JavaScript control issues, memory fragmentation, and issues like that. Basically the browser is inheriting more attributes of an OS for process and memory management at the browser application level. Sounds like more complexity, not simplicity, in the browser.

Google's cartoon comic strip announcement does a novel and nice job of describing Chrome and what's different about it, with the emphasis being on the multi-threaded process architecture. (Kara Swisher has the full comic strip up on the Boomtown blog.) Yep, it has other stuff like JavaScript stuffed in a virtual machine, speed improvements, searching and auto-completion, Google Gears and that it's open source. What Google is glossing over are the inevitable compatibility problems Chrome will introduce in how it renders and displays HTML. As software developers we already have to design, code and test knowing IE and Firefox each have their own idiosyncrasies. And Chrome will have its own as well. Bottom line, unless Google knocks either IE or Firefox out of the race, I really don't want a third web browser to develop and test for.

But I look at it this way. Enterprises must have more stability around the software running on their corporate desktops. IE's the dominant player there, with estimates of about 70% of total desktops running IE, so it will take something very compelling to displace IE from the corporate desktop. Apps with Google Gears? Better browser tie in between Google Chrome and the browser on Google Android phones? Possibly, but I doubt that will move the browser needle. That leaves Google to battle for more of the Firefox, Mozilla, and Safari browser market share. I'm not convinced enterprise IT will find Chrome all that shiny.

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