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7 Reasons Why I Have NOT Switched To Google Chrome From Firefox

I just finished reading 7 Reasons Why I Switched to Google Chrome from Firefox. I found the article a bit on the fanboy side, and I'll address each of his points here, while also saying my reasons why I'm still holding on to the Firefox browser as my default browser.

First, Andrew mentions that Google Chrome has a "much faster loading time". I have Google Chrome installed on both my work laptop running Windows XP and two of my GNU/Linux machines, one running Ubuntu 9.04, the other running Debian Sid. In all three cases, Google Chrome does launch from cold boot noticeably faster than Firefox, but the daily web browsing is not so noticeable. Unless I'm benchmarking the two browsers side-by-side, which is really only good for showing benchmarks, I don't see any recognizable differences in speed when rendering HTML, CSS or JavaScript. I've used both Chrome and Firefox with Gmail, Google Wave, and many, many other processor-intensive sites, and I see no such conclusion that Chrome has a "much faster loading time" versus Firefox, who is making the web a slow experience.

Second, he addresses that Chrome doesn't crash. Funny you say that. I've had both the stable version running on Windows XP and the unstable version running on GNU/Linux tank very recently. It only happened once, in both operating systems, and I have not been able to reproduce it, but it wasn't just a tab failure. The whole browser went south. I honestly don't even know what happened, but I do know what I was doing, and what was lost, but I'll address that in a second.

Thirdly, he likes some of the snazzy tab features with Chrome. It's apparent though, that the features he addresses in Chrome also exist in vanilla Firefox 3.5, such as the ability close all tabs other than the open tab (right-click the open tab, select "Close other tabs"). I do wish Firefox would get closing tab order and tab placement correct though. It does bother me that when I open a link in a new tab, it doesn't open the tab right next to the current, and when closing tabs, it doesn't do so in oldest to most recent opened tab. However, that's the beauty of Firefox- extensions, which again, I'll cover in a minute.

Fourth, I do like the default home page in Chrome, and I wish Firefox had it. I'm hoping we'll see it in 3.6 or maybe 4.0. However, it's hardly anything new. As usual, Opera pioneered the feature, Safari followed suit, then Chrome. It is a leg up on Firefox, however.

Fifth, the Omnibar in Chrome is no different than the AwesomeBar in Firefox, except for the search functionality. But, seeing as though the search box in Firefox is just a tab keystroke away, I hardly find this inconvenient, and worthy of a reason for switching browsers. Further, it's limited in its search scope- it can only search from one engine, Google by default. The search bar in Firefox is much more customizable, giving you the option to add virtually any search engine to the browser. Google, Wikipedia, eBay, Ubuntu packages, and so forth. Sure, you can change the default search in the options in Chrome, but you have to change the option by opening the options dialog every time you want to make the change, rather than just do it on the spot ad hoc.

The sixth option is just silly. Known more widely as "porn mode", every major browser comes with this feature, even in Firefox 3.5. A mere "ctrl+shift+p" will put Firefox into "Private Browsing", not saving an ounce of history to disk. Further, rather than opening a new window, it caches off your currently open tabs, closes them, and puts the new porn mode tab as the current tab, all in the same window. When you're finished, stopping private browsing will restore your tabs from the saved cache, including any text you might have typed in any form field. Sorry, but this point I found rather silly.

The seventh point is likely just as silly. Firefox has had a bright future from the outset. It truly is the poster child for a grass roots open source project that becomes mainstream. Version 3.6 is looking up, and 4.0 has a bright future as well. According to the browser market share trends, Firefox has been up, up, up.

Now, here are seven reasons why I won't be switching from Firefox to Google Chrome as my default browser in the foreseeable future:

  1. Extensions- I know this is "in the works" for Google Chrome, but I can't ditch Firefox just yet. I have a must set of extensions for every install of Firefox I ever make. I used to keep an updated list of such extensions, but I haven't updated in a while. Maybe I should do so. But, on every install, I need AdBlock Plus, FoxyProxy, FireFTP, Firebug, Web Developer, Tab Mix Plus, Weave, NoScript and Flashblock, just to name a few. Again, I understand it's only a matter of time with Chrome before extensions appear, and they will sand-boxed too, increasing the stability and security of the browser. However, Chrome isn't there yet, and as such, Firefox remains my browser.
  2. Caching- Firefox is the only browser that I know of that gets caching right. If, for any reason, my browser crashes, and I was typing an email, when I pull the browser back up, not only are my tabs restored, but the data in the tabs as well, including each tab history, and the text in any form fields that I was editing (provided I'm keeping a history of everything, as is default on a new install). I can't even begin to tell you how valuable this feature is. Yes, the whole browser crashes with Firefox, versus single tabs with Chrome, but when Firefox comes up, my data is in tact. When I restore the tab with Chrome, form fields and text boxes that were once populated are now blank.
  3. Cross Platform- Even though I have Google Chrome installed on my Debian and Ubuntu machines, Google Chrome is still very much a Windows application. It just hasn't reached prime time for Mac OS X or GNU/Linux. So, unless I'm ready and willing to take the rolls with the punches, I'm stuck on Windows. Yes, Google Chrome is getting more and more usable every day on GNU/Linux, but it's still unstable and comes with bugs.
  4. Portable Firefox- Being a college student, I've come to love I can take so many applications with me on a USB stick, plug them into a Windows machine at school, and off I go. Firefox is no exception. I can have all my extensions, plugins, settings, bookmarks and so forth with me on a single USB stick. This way, I don't have to worry about installing Firefox should it not be installed, and I don't have to prep it installing and configuring it the way I like. So, until Chrome becomes a portable app as well, which I don't think should take long, Firefox is here to stay.
  5. Speed- Firefox is still a fast browser, and 3.6 is looking to up the ante even more. Tracemonkey is comparable to speed with V8 in terms of JavaScript engines, and HTML/CSS rendering is also snappy. In fact, I noticed a great improvement from 3.0 to 3.5 in terms of speed. And when browsing the sites I do from day-to-day with Firefox and Chrome, I honestly can't tell if one is faster than the other. Yes, from a cold boot, Firefox is a second slower. Maybe two. Other than that, IMO, it's neck and neck, and as a result, I see no reason to switch browsers if speed is a factor.
  6. Configurability- Firefox is the only browser I know of that tinkering under the hood is a snap. Just pulling up the "about:config" URI, and I can tweak to my hearts content, and I have. I've modified the way DNS is handled. I've modified the way proxies are setup. I've changed the backspace key behavior, and much more, and it's easy. Further, if I don't like the setting I've made, I just change it back, all while it's running in a tab in the browser. No need for open dialog windows, or taking you away from your work.
  7. Support- This might seem like somewhat of a weak point, but Google Chrome has a bit to go before the community reaches the masses that Firefox has amassed. Support forms, IRC channels, wikis, mailing lists and on and on. If I need help with the Firefox browser, I'm likely to get the support I'm looking for, regardless of the platform. As Google Chrome increases it's market share, there's no doubt that it will increase it's support options and community as well. However, it's not there yet, and literally pales in comparison to Firefox. There is strength in numbers.

These may or may not be your reasons for sticking with Firefox, but they are certainly mine. Firefox is a solid browser that is showing tons, and tons of potential. While it might not have some bells and whistles that Chrome has, such as a process per tab, or sandboxing extensions, it's still a robust and stable browser, and as a result, still remains my default browser.

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