Review: Google Chrome lacks polish - East Valley Tribune: Business

Review: Google Chrome lacks polish

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Posted: Sunday, September 7, 2008 8:19 pm | Updated: 9:49 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

NEW YORK - Google’s new Web browser, called Chrome, does much of what a browser needs to do these days: It groups pages into easy-to-manage “tabs” and offers several ways for people to control their Internet privacy settings.

The world’s most powerful 10-year-old

Yet my initial tests reveal that this “beta,” or preliminary release, falls short of Google’s goals, and is outdone in an important measure by the latest version of Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer.

Chrome is a challenge to Microsoft’s browser, used by about three-quarters of Web surfers. But it could equally be called a challenge to Microsoft’s Office software suite, because what Google really wants to do is to make the browser a stable and flexible platform that can do practically everything we want to do with a computer, from word processing and e-mail to photo editing.

To strengthen that effort, Chrome was designed to improve on the way other browsers handle JavaScript — used to make Web pages more interactive and more like desktop software applications.

At first blush, Google’s focus on JavaScript makes sense. JavaScript can eat up computer processor power, and if poorly used by a Web site, can bring down the browser. One of the things Chrome promises is that if one browser tab crashes, it won’t take down the whole program.

But it’s the browser’s performance that matters to me. And this is where Chrome’s attention to JavaScript might miss the point.

At work, I often have 40 or 50 tabs open in Firefox, grouped in different windows. Frequently, Firefox would slow down all the other applications on my computer, then seize up completely.

At first I thought JavaScript was to blame, and blocked it. But that made many sites unusable, and it didn’t help: The browser still froze.

It turns out the culprit is not JavaScript but Adobe Systems’ Flash plug-in. It’s the program-within-a-program that plays YouTube videos and those annoying “splash” pages.

Flash is a tremendous resource hog in Firefox, eating up processor time. Luckily, there’s a small add-on program for Firefox that lets the user prevent Flash files from running automatically.

Chrome has the same problem, but unlike Firefox, there’s no way to stop Flash from running.

On the plus side, Chrome allows you to diagnose problems with runaway plug-ins easily, because it tells you exactly which pages are consuming which resources.

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