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My first impressions of Google's new browser: Chrome

I had some time last night to play with Google Chrome (http://www.google.com/chrome)

Google Chrome: Google's new open source browser

Here’s what I found out:

The Good

  • It’s extremely fast!  In different JavaScript tests it beats Internet Explorer and Firefox easily – see one test result here.
  • It works well with SuperGenPass.com – like Firefox it supports long bookmarks made of Javascript.  Those that attended my screencast on managing Web passwords will appreciate that.
  • The drag and drop of the tabs is pretty cool – try to drag a tab inside the tab area, notice how smooth the insert is.  Now try to drag the tab outside the tab area: notice the adorner becomes a screenshot of the actual web site.  I’m working on a lot on drag and drop right now, so I appreciated this feature.
  • Flash worked out of the box – I didn’t need to install a third party “ActiveX control” or run an installer.  I’m wondering if it has built-in support or it’s simply piggy backing on Flash already installed from IE or Firefox.
  • Like Firefox, Chrome is open source – we can expect a lot more features to show up soon.
  • The “Most visited sites” feature is very cool – the 9 most visited sites appear automatically on the main page.
  • Here’s someone who blogged the Chrome announcement – it has a lot of good additional info.

The Bad

  • Ironically it doesn’t yet work with Google’s own product, Google Toolbar.  Google Toolbar is one of my favorite tools, so I was a bit disappointed as where many.  That said, a quick workaround right now is to simply place a shortcut to your “Google Bookmarks on the web” in your Chrome links bar – with one click you can access them.
  • I did have some installation headaches – on one computer it didn’t install at all, on another it crashed.  Finally it worked on a Vista 32 bit machine without problems.

We need to take this first version with a grain of salt – Google only released it now because they made a marketing mistake, so from a developer’s perspective I say it’s not even a beta.  How would you feel if you had to release the current development version of your product right now – as is?

From previous experience with Google products, I think this is going to be an amazing browser, especially when it integrates with most of the Google services (without 3rd party installers).

Update: I received a couple of emails from folks who told me that if you read the Google Chrome EULA, you find out that "anything you create using chrome belongs to google".

To dismiss this misconception, Google fixed the EULA after realizing they made a mistake - see the details below from Matt Cutts.

Google does not want rights to things you do using Chrome
by Matt Cutts, 9/3/2008, Link

Alright, I’ve got another misconception to dispel. :) After reading through the Chrome Terms of Service, some people are worried that Google is trying to assert rights on everything that you do on Chrome. From one example story by Marshall Kirkpatrick:

The terms include a section giving Google “a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.” That seems pretty extreme for a browser, doesn’t it?

I knew that Google didn’t want to assert rights on what people did using Google Chrome, so I asked the Chrome team and Google lawyers for their reaction or to clarify (probably several other people pinged them too). Here’s what I heard back from Rebecca Ward, the Senior Product Counsel for Google Chrome:

“In order to keep things simple for our users, we try to use the same set of legal terms (our Universal Terms of Service) for many of our products. Sometimes, as in the case of Google Chrome, this means that the legal terms for a specific product may include terms that don’t apply well to the use of that product. We are working quickly to remove language from Section 11 of the current Google Chrome terms of service. This change will apply retroactively to all users who have downloaded Google Chrome.”

I hope that addresses the concerns that I’ve seen on a few places around the web. I appreciate that people pored through the Chrome license to find anything that looked unclear and then raised concerns so that Google could respond.

Update: I did this post quickly because I had to go to a meeting. Coming back to read what I wrote, I think I was too strident (both here and commenting a few places around the web) and I apologize for that. As a long-time Googler, I knew that Google wouldn’t want rights to everything that somebody did in Chrome. It also seemed like there had been incidents like this in the past and they always got cleared up quickly.

But it was clearly a mistake on Google’s part to include that language when it shouldn’t have been there, and I should have been grateful to the people that pointed it out. Instead of getting snippy with people, my reaction should have been more along the lines of “Oh crap, I don’t think that’s intentional. Thank you so much for noticing that and pointing it out. I’ll see if we can get an official clarification or reaction as soon as possible.” I apologize for that, and I appreciate the people who push Google to be better.

Update, Sept. 3rd 2008: Earlier today, Google changed section 11 of the EULA to read as follows:

11. Content license from you

11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.

I think that text is much better.

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