Is Google's browser worth the download time?
(Long Island, N.Y.) Using part of my tax refund, I just invested in a new laptop. I thought it would make me more productive. Instead, I've spent the past three weeks familiarizing myself with Windows 7 (more “changes” than “improvements”), and Open Office (it's free -- and much like MS Word, for better and for worse).
Just as I started to get the hang of it all, problems I was having on my old laptop, particularly with my web browser, began to crop up. Namely, I couldn't load full-featured gmail. After bad experiences with Outlook at one publishing house where I used to work, I use gmail for nearly everything -- including my email, calendar and chat. This is a Big Deal. No one else -- including several of my tech savvy friends -- seem to be having this problem with Firefox and gmail compatibility issues. So I'm going to chalk it up to user error.
And then I found a solution: Google Chrome. The browser, launched in 2008, isn't exactly new, but it hasn't yet garnered the mainstream appeal of FireFox and Internet Explorer. Yes, people still use that archaic browser, apparently -- the latest version is ranked #2 according to some recent statistics posted at W3Schools.com, but Chrome is fast-gaining market share and looks to surpass IE8 by April, at the latest.
I've been a Firefox users since back when the Web browser was considered “cutting edge,” but in just three days, I'm sold on Chrome. I didn't believe the hype that Chrome makes Web browsing faster, but I've found it to be true. I'm on a computer not yet bogged down with programs, so the difference is subtle, but definitely noticeable.
I like the graphic history that shows up when you open a new tab, which provides a quick glance at the most recent Web pages I visited. I'm a creature of habit, and the pictures make it easy to spot what I need quickly.
Tabbed browsing is similar enough to Firefox that there was no adjustment period for me. And when I installed the program, it imported all my bookmarks from FF.
I've been able to upload text from OpenOffice to Blogger or WordPress with no issues, and format my posts on both blog platforms -- critical in my line of work. And all my social media loads quickly and seamlessly.
Three days isn't enough to explore all the nuances of a new program -- even one as simple as Chrome -- but I came across The Power User's Guide to Google Chrome with some easy-to-read and fast-to-deploy tips to make your Web browsing experience even more pleasant.
I have encountered one odd problem with Chrome. I can't seem to copy and paste from Open Office into gmail, not even using hotkeys. I don't know if this is a browser problem, or a problem with gmail. Thinking it was an OpenOffice issue, I typed a sentence into Google Docs, selected all, copied and... still nothing when I pasted into gmail. Odd. (Readers, I'm open to suggestions if you have any; email me.) Am I pasting in invisible ink?
Overall, though, I'm impressed with Chrome. I finally discovered (thanks to a discussion with a friend who's a computer tech) why Windows 7 has issues with FireFox. He couldn't even get the browser to load on his machines. Mozilla's 64-bit version of FireFox is still in Beta version. Beta, as we all know, often equals “buggy.”
I understand that FireFox is open source software and I shouldn't expect immediate compatibility with the latest and greatest computer systems. It takes time to develop software -- especially software that's distributed free. But I believe that by the time Mozilla releases the full 64-bit version of FireFox, I'll be so hooked on Chrome, I won't go back.
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