I am still in love with Google Chrome. It's smooth. The tabs open in just the right way. It knows exactly what I want. It feels right. And, not to mention it's one of the best looking browsers I've ever been with. Even all my friends love Chrome -- a rarity. But Chrome, you've wronged me too many times. I shouldn't have to put up with any more flash crashes, something that has turned into more than a daily occurrence. You have eaten far too many blog posts. And, while your little "Aw, Snap!" and "Whoa! Google Chrome has crashed" error notes used to endear me, it has gotten old. Chrome: This is over.
Like any break-up, post-Chrome I sought an extreme rebound and migrated to Internet Explorer 9 after seeing its hip commercials. I still hated it. Especially compared to my beloved Chrome. For a heavy Internet user, like a blogger, Internet explorer didn't handle tabs as well, putting them next to the address bar, instead of above it. It got all scrunchy, opening multiple windows. It got crowded, fast. And in general, it just felt very slow. (Other blogger tests confirmed that slowness.)
But, those commercials just kept playing during Mad Men and, as I was in the market for a new browser, they enticed me for a second round. Thanks to a little help from Microsoft spokesperson Jenn Foss, the transition wasn't as painful as expected. As for the tab situation, Foss explained that Microsoft put the tabs there to give the web page as much room as possible. But for super-users, who keep more than 8 tabs going at a time, the browser gives the option of having the tabs show up below the address bar. "You can now choose to have tabs be their own row," Foss explained. "Just right-click above the one-box and select, 'show tabs on a separate row.' With that you can literally go edge to edge with your tabs," she continued.
Default Tabs. (Cringe):
Like all rebounds, however, I soon realized that IE and I would never last. Just like the tests say, man is Internet Explorer slow. The whole experience feels like retro Internetting. Not only does it take a very long time for pages to load, but the fonts and icons with their boxy look, feel old, compared to Chrome's smoother edges and bigger font size.* This blogger does not like to wait around. And realizing I could do better, I moved on.
The Exes Revisited
After a few days with Microsoft's offering, I went back to some old favorites, Firefox for my work PC, and Safari for Mac browsing at home. Like any rekindling of an old-fling, at first I questioned why I ever left these guys. Firefox has all those extensions, it's almost as pretty as Chrome, and works pretty fast. Then, I remembered all the flaws. One reason I dumped Firefox was because of bloat issues, which LifeHacker's Adam Pash explains as such. "It's not at all uncommon to see a Firefox installation eating up more than any running application on your system, and while the memory consumption itself isn't that big of a deal (Chrome eats a lot of memory, too), the high memory usage is often accompanied by serious browser slowdowns, which is a very big problem, and one that, anecdotally, at least, we hear from tons of Firefox users and very few Chrome users," he writes. It also has this infuriating tab issue, where it makes me scroll to see beyond 10 tabs. Also, why is its CTRL + F function case sensitive?
Also, why have neither of these browsers adopted the omnibox? For a harried Internet surfer, combining the URL box is one less thing to think about. Plus, I had to hand program both Firefox and Safari to do a Google search from the address bar. A few days with the old lovers, and the old issues resurfaced, an irritating reminder of the reason I left them in the first place. Then, Firefox had a flash crash of its own and that was it. Moving on.
A New Kind of Love
I am now getting to know Opera. We're not boyfriend-girlfriend. We're just seeing each other. Some might call it dating. Those speed tests have it as a pretty good match-up with Chrome. Though, it does feel a little slower. But that may be because it keeps me posted of its progress as it loads a page.
It also has some other nice features. Like, it previews the page behind the tab. CNET's five-star review reads like an online dating profile for the browser. Like all partners, Opera is sure to have weaknesses and annoying quirks. Nobody, browsers included, is perfect. But, there's a difference between abusive and annoying.
*For some reason, our browser switched to classic mode, which explains the old-school look. Internet Explorer 9 also has a modern look.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.