What I Use: Google Chrome

Posted on February 2, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Mobile, Paul, Windows 10 with 59 Comments

What I Use: Google Chrome

The biggest change in my workflow over the years has been a shift from desktop applications to web apps. And my browser of choice remains Google Chrome.

Granted, Chrome isn’t perfect. Critics cite performance and battery life issues, which to be fair Google has been addressing recently, and also its close ties to Google. But I’m honestly not sure I see these issues day-to-day for the most part.

What I do see quite clearly are Chrome’s advantages. And I say this having regularly evaluated the competition: Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera. In fact, I spent a good portion of the past week doing so, in part because of improvements that Microsoft is adding to Edge in the Creators Update.

But they just don’t measure up for the most part. Here are a few reasons why.

Compatibility with mobile devices. Choosing a web browser is no longer just about Windows and PCs. That browser also needs to be on the mobile devices you’re using. And providing full and automatic sync between your bookmarks, settings, and, if you’re using this, saved site passwords. All web browsers do this to some degree, but Edge does not offer any sync with the platforms people are using (Android and iOS) and is thus less viable regardless of its other benefits.

2FA support. Given the importance of the web browser today, it is likewise important that the online account you use with that browser is well-protected. This is doubly true if you choose to store website passwords in the browser. But Firefox and Opera—which are otherwise excellent—do not support full two-factor authentication (2FA), while Google and Microsoft do. That is a requirement in 2017.

Superior rendering engine. While there is a healthy debate to be had around which browser rendering engines are “best,” let’s just say that when it comes to browsing on Windows, in particular, Chrome provides the predictable, performant, and accurate rendering experience I expect. Other browsers may respect high-DPI displays better—particularly in the UI stuff, where Chrome does lag—but overall Chrome is the winner here.

Web apps on Windows. This one is a big deal for me: Chrome is the only modern browser that lets you create web apps shortcuts on Windows that look like native applications. (In the sense that you’re not running the apps in a full browser window with all the navigation and other controls.) I love this feature and use it every day, most frequently with Google Inbox (email) and Google Calendar.

Extensibility. All modern web browsers support some form of extensibility in the form of browser add-ins or extensions. It’s not clear to me whether Chrome is “better” in this regard than, say, Firefox, but I bet it is. (Edge is very immature in this regard.) I rely on many Chrome extensions, and this capability helps the browser overcome some of its built-in, Google-focused limitations, such as its lack of integrated reading mode and ad blocking.

And as it turns out, I’m not alone in my Chrome usage. Chrome is the most-often-used web browser in the world, by far, with almost 60 percent usage share. And it’s the most-often-used web browser by Thurrott.com readers, where it commands 55 percent of the usage. (Firefox is number 2, with 14.5 percent.) You guys get it, of course.

Looking forward, I will of course continue to reevaluate other browsers, especially when there are updates that bring meaningful changes. I like the idea of Firefox, for example—“the only browser built for people, not profit”—and Opera’s bulked-up built-in functionality is interesting as well. And I love the way that Microsoft Edge renders text, in particular, though I find the browser to be slow, buggy (copy and paste in particular), and still lagging with the features I need most. But nothing is written in stone.

 

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Comments (60)

60 responses to “What I Use: Google Chrome”

  1. Avatar

    442

    What I still get a kick out of is that many web developers are now accusing Google of doing what Microsoft did with I.E. many years ago, and making it work with a superset of features beyond the normal standards.  And, yet, they get away with it and I.E. didn't?  Kind of a double standard, eh?

  2. Avatar

    966

    Paul,

    Could you expand on this, as to how, where, etc.:

     "This one is a big deal for me: Chrome is the only modern browser that lets you create web apps shortcuts on Windows that look like native applications. "

     I find this very interesting, I keep chrome updoted and have had it for years but in the last couple of years I so very rarely open it..... O.o :(

     Best Regards,

     Crysta

    • Avatar

      412

      In reply to PhotM:

      Say you use PocketCasts. You got to https://play.pocketcasts.com/ . In Chrome, go to the "three dots" for the menu at the top right. Choose MORE TOOLS and then ADD TO DESKTOP. You then have the option to OPEN AS WINDOW. Choose that and press OK. The Shortcut will default to the desktop but you can also PIN it to the Start Menu and it will look like an "app." Since you chose to OPEN AS WINDOW, it will also run like an "app." Kind of nice...

  3. Avatar

    1292

    Some streaming video formats are only supported on Edge such as the Apple event. Also Edge is the only browser that supports 5.1 audio, but these are edge case uses. (no pun intended ;)

    I use Pocket to sync across Edge on W10 and Chrome on W7, seems to work fine. I don't use Last Pass but I would assume that would work as well as Pocket.

    • Avatar

      1753

      In reply to FreeJAC:

      LastPass works fine with Edge. As I do about 99.9% of my browsing on the desktop, syncing with the phone isn't important to me.

      (I find the phone a very poor experience for web browsing. It is great for the odd times I am out-and-about and need information on the spot, but those are very few and far between. Usually, I will wait until I get back to my notebook or desk and then browse in comfort on a reasonably sized display.

      What I find is missing from Chrome is NoScript - the ability to block individual domains from running JavaScript. There are add-ons for Chrome that block/enable entire sites, but you can't block the individual domains (E.g. in NoScript, if I come here, I can allow thurrott.com, disqus.com, gstatic.com, but block untrustworthy sites, such as google-analytics.com, googletagservices.com, pinterest.com, facebook.com etc. In Chrome, you only get the option to block all scripts when displaying thurrott.com or allow all scripts.).

  4. Avatar

    2586

    I've been using Firefox since the beginning.  It has the best collection of extentions/add ons.  Google chrome is awkward for me.  Using one less of google's spyware is good.   Edge is not ready for primetime.  Opera-meh. 

  5. Avatar

    5592

    So thurrott.com readers use Chrome LESS than average. (55% vs 60%)

    As Paul said, "You guys get it, of course."

    • Avatar

      7063

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      I wonder if thurrott.com readers have a higher than average Edge and IE percentage in exchange for the lower than average Chrome percentage.

      • Avatar

        5592

        In reply to DataMeister:

        It'd be interesting to see.

        What we know now is only that thurrott.com readers use Chrome less than average (55% vs 60%)

        But since we don't know where Paul is getting his 60% number or whether that's desktop or mobile or both it's hard to know much else.

        Netmarketshare has Chrome at 58% of desktop and 53% of mobile.

        They show Firefox at 12% desktop and 0.6% of mobile.

        IE is at 20% of desktop and 1.0% of mobile

        Edge is at 5.5% of desktop and 0.4% on mobile.

         

      • Avatar

        9562

        In reply to DataMeister:

        "I wonder if thurrott.com readers have a higher than average Edge and IE percentage in exchange for the lower than average Chrome percentage."

        Well duh. Half the readers are MS employees.

  6. Avatar

    7066

    Chrome wrecks my battery and is a resource hog.

    I now use Safari and Edge. 

  7. Avatar

    7631

    I agree that Chrome is the best browser for most people, but I still insist in using Edge on my Surface Book. I really prefer the way it renders text and it is also fast. I understand the disadvantages it has compared to Chrome, but at the end of the day I do not care about the sync with a mobile browser. I have all my bookmarks on both Chrome and Edge and I do not change them that often. I also use LastPass to keep my passwords in sync.

    I like how Edge integrates with the OS and I do not like how Chrome ignores the OS. I guess this is the price you pay for cross platform support.

    • Avatar

      5758

      In reply to petvas:

      If you like the way Edge renders text on your Surface Book, try Firefox. Edge uses inferior greyscale AA for text (all UWP apps do this, apparently because tablets can be rotated) where as Firefox uses Cleartype. Text just looks *right* in Firefox compared to Edge and Chrome, for some reason no one talks about this even though it's obviously important

      • Avatar

        7631

        In reply to Bdsrev:

        I am not an expert in fonts and I cannot say anything more other than what my eyes see and how I perceive it. I do not like how Firefox renders text, especially that it uses Times as its default font. I prefer Edge for text rendering. Each to its own I guess :)

  8. Avatar

    5593

    There's no universe where I use Chrome. None.  I don't understand the big deal about extensions, and I prefer IE11 first, Edge second. I honestly see no value for me in any of the issues Paul brought up.  They're clearly important for him, which is fine.  But zero value for me.

    • Avatar

      10139

      In reply to Rob_Wade:

      Finally someone that sees things the same way I see them. I also don't use chrome, no interest in using google spyware engine (aka web browser). I also don't see the value in extensions, besides an ad blocker. I have being using firefox for years, I only extension I installed was the ad-blocker. I did look at edge and used it for a while, but I found myself back to firefox (habit I guess).

      The funny thing is, people say Windows 10 is "spyware" and Microsoft spy on you and they are ripped on by the media, but those same people use chrome and swear by it, which is also "spyware". Maybe the only difference is google admit it, logon to you google account they do active scan your emails and other searches etc for advertising purposes. 

      I actually don't use any of googles services besides maps, which I don't logon to. I have a MS mobile phone (upgrading to an iphone in two months), never owned an android phone, only android device I have ever owned, is my media player and that I don't really use any android services, besides downloading one app.

  9. Avatar

    5554

    Yep. Chrome is the high watermark in multiplatform browser.

    Microsoft doesn't even seem to want to succeed with Edge, they sabotaged it from the start. First deciding it would only work on one version of one OS (not even 7 or 8.1), then further relegating it to footnote status by being a metro/UWP-gimped app. 

    • Avatar

      5234

      In reply to PeteB:

      It might be UWP, but it's not updated like a UWP app, nor is it managed by the Windows Store.

    • Avatar

      2371

      In reply to PeteB:

      I don't believe that being a UWP app handcuffs it in any way and it does give it more security than a Win-32 bit app by default (UWP sandboxes apps).  I believe it is the UI design guidelines that handcuff it.  Why not make the address bar easy to see?  - UI design guidelines that somehow say that the most important piece of information on the screen (the address bar) outside of the web page itself should be made hard to read or even know it is there (like when you first open Edge). I really think they need to prioritize usability over the current UI design guidelines; which speaks volumes for the design guidelines.  They also need to allow a user to turn on more advanced features that may at clutter to the browser.  Sometimes functionality requirements of a user are more important than how nice the browser looks.

      • Avatar

        6672

        In reply to RM:

        Flash has run in various "sandboxes" for years. Did very little for its security reputation. And Edge has trouble rendering this site on phone, and is wonky beyond belief, so I'm not a fan. Chrome just brings a different set of security issues, namely no privacy (which I admit is illusory these days). So Firefox it is, where possible.

  10. Avatar

    4964

    When I was all Windows (Mobile/Hybrid) I was fine with Edge 99% of the time, the exception being some sites developed around the Chrome webkit engine (CAD viewing). Now I am Android/Win10 have to use Chrome as Microsoft doesn't support other platforms with Edge. 

    At work I use Chrome because Microsoft can't offer a favorite sync that works on both Windows 7/IE and Windows 8/IE...

  11. Avatar

    3494

    I use Chrome for the most part but when I play back youtube videos or others, I use Safari or Edge which use much less processor resources.

  12. Avatar

    1534

    Chrome is my choice because of extensibility and interoperability between my Windows 10 and Google devices.

  13. Avatar

    5758

    I have a Surface Pro 4 and Chrome is simply not an option on that computer because text is just way too thin, it's a dealbreaker. It's a real shame. Text just doesn't look 'right' in Edge either, it looks messed up and ugly. Firefox is the only option for the SP4 if you actually read things in your browser (I basically read and write in a web browser for a living, like many people)

  14. Avatar

    412

    "Web apps on Windows."

    Yes...this is huge for me. The only problem I have is when Chrome updates, I have to delete the visual manifest file so the shortcuts have the actual app logo, otherwise, it will default to the Chrome Logo. 

  15. Avatar

    892

    Although I always use Chrome as my browser of choice, I stumbled across a new browser last week (new to me anyway) called Vivaldi.  I started using it and it seemed pretty good.  Is anyone familiar with this browser and I wonder if it has any viability? 

     

    By the way, I have used Edge on an irregular basis but unfortunately it disappoints for various reasons.  But I continually try it and test it and although it seems to be improving, I cannot see it replacing Chrome or Firefox.

  16. Avatar

    7124

    I'm still amazed that a blog writer that depends on ad revenue for his livelihood considers an ad blocker to be a must have.

  17. Avatar

    2175

    Chrome all the way, baby.

    I like Edge. But there is a bug which blurs text and blacks out portions of of websites sometimes. It's like reading a confidential paper with redacted statements. Without this issue I would happily use Edge more often.

  18. Avatar

    8616

    I've used firefox for many years but on some point i switched to Chrome because Mozilla was taking out all FF features that I likes (having graphical theming, panorama feature for tabs).

    I'm very happy with Chrome now, especially because I have a great browser on all platforms that I started using recently.

    • Avatar

      4642

      In reply to Igor Engelen:

      Did you find similar functionality for panorama (tab-grouops) in Chrome.

      Looking forward FireFox will stop supporting their "legacy" plug-in's later this year and this will be an opportunity to reevaluate if its time to switch to Chrome for me.

      The hardest part will be to find equivalent functionality / plug-in's.

  19. Avatar

    5530

    if not for crappy scrolling and crappy high DPI support i'd be using chrome.

  20. Avatar

    8427

    Ugh, the comments. Am I the only one using Firefox?

     

     

    >But Firefox [...] do not support full two-factor authentication (2FA),

     

    But Firefox kinda does? You log in on one device with username/password and it then sends you a ling to confirm login of the device. Isn't that 2FA?

  21. Avatar

    2983

    I use Edge -- but ironically I have to use Chrome to browse TechNet pages because neither Edge nor IE render the tables of parameters correctly (this is on Win 10 Insider Builds). The odd customer web based VPN is too old or has a plug in that Edge can't use too; I tend to use IE for these.

  22. Avatar

    1571

    Do you use Chrome on Mac/IOS devices as well? Any memory issues?

    • Avatar

      5628

      In reply to skramer49:

      I can't say that I notice any negative impacts on iOS, but on MacOS Chrome does have measurable negative battery impact.  I move between a MBP and Surface Book multiple times a week and I tend to only use Chrome on MacOS when I don't have battery considerations..

  23. Avatar

    257

    Have never liked Chrome. I use Firefox on Windows, but I'm also an iPhone and iPad user. The iCloud app lets you sync your Windows bookmarks with your iOS devices. I also don't use my browser to remember passwords, so in this case, 2FA isn't an issue for me.

  24. Avatar

    2380

    Opera beats Chrome for me.  Similar performance, look and feel as Chrome and can use Chrome extensions.  Plus it has built-in ad blocking without all of Google's privacy invasion. 

     

     

  25. Avatar

    5234

    Which G Suite package does Thurrutt.com use?

    And why is your logo different there?

  26. Avatar

    8444

    A small tip Paul: Ink for Google extension and you get a nice Material design makeover for calendar, YouTube and some other not yet updated Google properties. Usability stays the same.

    Also the jasonsavard extensions are amazing if you use Gmail/Calendar/Inbox.

  27. Avatar

    5456

    Paul, why do you use Google E-Mail instead of Exchange Online? I find the Microsoft solution way better then Googles. Plus I trust MSFT more then Google.

  28. Avatar

    217

    Chrome (and thus has lead to Google apps) has become such a large part of my daily workflow, I often (and easily) switch between platforms and form factors without missing a beat. The one issue I have on Windows 10 (on both my personal PC and work PC) is Chrome doesn't keep my pinned tabs saved all the time. 

  29. Avatar

    2371

    With Microsoft's Mobile and Cloud first, it sure seams like the Edge team didn't get the memo!  I'm sure they are doing great work with all of the sandboxing they are doing with Edge and I know they open sourced the rendering engine, but why not get a team working on Edge for other OSes?  They cannot get 50% market share without Edge on mobile, period.

  30. Avatar

    5496

    I hate when people say performant.

  31. Avatar

    679

    Chrome is my daily driver too. The feature that keeps me with it more than anything else is cross platform compatibility. However I find it to be buggy at times and a huge resource hog. One of the web applications I created is very dependent on AJAX and Chrome has reliability issues with it that can only be cured by closing it down completely and starting over. Not great on the workflow. Edge is pretty interesting and it continues to get better all the time. I think it works really well on the Surface especially in tablet mode. The only thing that keeps me from switching to it is my first comment about Chrome - platform cross-compatibility. When I can get Edge on my Android phone Chrome will be done and that is what I want to tell Microsoft every time I get one of those annoying popups telling me to switch. And why isn't it on other platforms when all the other Microsoft key apps like onedrive, office, grove etc are.

  32. Avatar

    703

    You're the perfect candidate for a Chromebook, Paul. I have never understood why you banish them as deplorable 

  33. Avatar

    8662

    I wouldn't worry too much about Paul's opinion in this matter. As an ex-Windows evangelist he made the move to non-Microsoft products a couple of years ago, gradually but steady. The reasons for his move to Google Chrome is understandable from his point of view. He doesn't use a Windows Phone anymore (at least not as his primary device), but he likes the syncing of bookmarks etc. So, yes you need Chrome for that. He made a shift to Google apps like Gmail and Calendar. So, yes Chrome is the evident choice. By the way, he only mentions those two apps, not any other serious application. He could do well enough with a cheap Chrome book (perhaps his next move).
    So, if you use Edge, Mail and Calendar on a Windows machine, you don't need Google Chrome at all. Even if you don't use a Windows phone, your Mail and Calendar are synced without issues. The only thing that isn't covered by Microsoft is the syncing of bookmarks, then you need Edge on a Windows Phone, which is not too bad either. But I wouldn't be surprised that Edge will be supported on other platforms in the near future as well. Maybe they want to make it perfect first on the Windows platform before they release it to other platforms. I don't know. But I do know that with every new build Edge is closer to perfection.

  34. Avatar

    1779

     I recently moved to a Chromebook for my primary computer. If the platform does mature and Microsoft continues to update their web apps, it seems like it might not be a bad move. Time will tell I guess....

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