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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Time to switch to Google Chrome?

Being stuck at home with a broken arm sucks.  I’m so limited in what I can do that the boredom set in in less than a week, and having a cast put on yesterday means I am stuck at home for at least another couple of weeks.  Can’t kill time on the Xbox and due to the weather I can’t even go out for a walk and some fresh air, so I am left with TV (thank god we got Sky+ before Christmas or things would be worse).  The only other thing I can do is browse the web one handed on my laptop, and given the excess time I currently have on my hands I have been trying a few new things, starting with Google Chrome.

Now I’m not entirely new to Chrome, its been installed on my laptop pretty much since launch, but I’ve never really made the transition from Internet Explorer.  I have dabbled with other browsers in the past, primarily Opera and Firefox.  I used Opera for a while a few years back and found it straight forward and fast, I particularly like the RSS reader integration, a novelty at the time.  The problem was I kept having to go back to IE to view certain websites.  More recently I have dabbled with Firefox, which at first seemed ok.  While I liked some of the extensions, as with Opera it doesn’t support all the websites I use and more importantly, I found it slow to load and prone to regular freezing so again returned to IE.

Coming back to Chrome, while I obviously had the same issue of some sites only supporting IE, the speed at which it works, the fact it is in its infancy and likely to grow and improve over time along with the simple, clean interface made me keep it on my system.  So with time on my hands I have given it another go.

chrome

First step was to go BETA in order to try out the new extensions and to anyone not using the beta version, I recommend the switch.  It seems along the same lines as other Google betas, in other words they’re still testing it so its not final, but it works pretty bloody well.  As I’ve already said, Chrome has a lot going for it in terms of performance and usability, but now with extensions it really is starting to come in to its own.

I’ve only been playing with it for a few days, but already I have extension that automatically let me now when I have new email, check my calendar and update tasks, all without having to actually go to the relevant web pages, same with Google Reader.  I can Tweet from a little icon in the browser, not extra software or having to visit twitter. These extensions may not be perfect, but for something so young they are off to a fine start.

Still I have a couple of issues that may stop me ditching IE just yet.  First is the fact that some pages will only work in IE and before anyone asks, yes I have tried the IE tab extensions which view web pages in IE from with Chrome, and while they maybe ok for some things, they don’t cut it for some of my online banking.  Second, I currently use RoboForm as a password manager and they have yet to come up with a Chrome extension.  This second issue may be solved in the form of LastPass, which I plan on giving a try, in which case, other than for online banking, I may make the permanent switch from IE to Chrome.

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