The battle of the browsers is heating up this week, with Microsoft announcing a ship date for the final version of Internet Explorer 9, Firefox launching the release candidate of Firefox 4 and Google releasing Chrome 10.
I try to keep an open mind about these things, but switching browsers is not a decision to take lightly, and as Chrome has improved over the last couple years, I've had a harder time considering other options. Even though Internet Explorer 9 is light years ahead of its predecessors, and Firefox 4 is looking sharp with a new interface, I won't be picking them over Chrome anytime soon. Here's why:
Web Store and Web Apps
Since Google launched the Chrome Web Store in December, I've taken a liking to the whole concept. It's part a discovery tool for new web services, part showcase for re-imagined Websites and part quick launch tool from Chrome's home screen. The Web Store is a case where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and now it's something I can't do without. We'll see if Mozilla can do better when it releases its own web apps platform.
Although IE9 lets you pin tabs to the taskbar in Windows 7, it doesn't let you pin tabs within the browser itself. Both Chrome and Firefox allow this, so your favorite websites can hide in a tiny corner at the top of the browser. The difference is control: Firefox doesn't give you a way to automatically open certain websites as pinned tabs, but with Chrome, any web app can be pinned whenever you launch it from the home screen.
Technically, Internet Explorer 9 affords the most screen real estate for web pages, but it only does so by squeezing tabs and the address/search bar onto the same line. To me, this feels too claustrophobic, and moving tabs down to a separate line consumes a lot more space. Firefox 4 comes close to Chrome, but it's not quite equal.
I visit a lot of websites on a regular basis, such as news sources and blogging tools, so the bookmarks bar in Chrome is essential. Again, this is a feature that Firefox also offers, but it takes up a little more space than Chrome and lacks a shortcut to toggle the bar on and off (in Chrome, Shift-Ctrl-B).
Obviously, each browser brings its own strengths and features to the table, and this is hardly an exhaustive list of how Chrome compares. I'd love to hear why Chrome, Firefox, IE9, Safari or Opera work best for you -- but I doubt you'll be able to sway me.