Google Chrome, the new browser from the search engine giant, has been hailed as yet another great alternative to the monopoly that is Microsoft. However, a few things need to be put in perspective, not the least of which that Google is going down the road towards mega-corp status that Microsoft traversed two decades ago. And while it could be debated as to why Google is so beloved today and Microsoft is at times loathed, that’s not the point–at least not today.
Instead, a different issue needs to be addressed and that is why is it good to have another alternative to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer? As an early Web user–I first started surfing the Web in 1994, but had been online even earlier–I was fond of Netscape Navigator and stayed with it through several versions. But with Windows 1995 came the built-in Internet Explorer; which I gradually transitioned to and have used as my primary browser ever since.
I should add that in the past I also used Word Perfect before transitioning to Word, and while I never had to use Lotus 1-2-3 very much, I did, and now Excel is the spreadsheet of choice. About the only time I didn’t embrace a Microsoft Windows application was for e-mail. To this day I find Eudora, a product not even supported anymore, to be my preferred e-mail client. I might try Thunderbird but I haven’t made the switch yet.
On the one hand I find choice to be a fundamental part of a free market society. As a life-long and devote capitalist I say competition is good; but when you have a good product there also shouldn’t be arguments that it is a monopoly and choice should be forced. It bothered me when people said Microsoft was too big and did too many things, this was called unfair competition because Microsoft makes the operating system, the browser and the applications that run in each. Of course the beloved Apple Mac operates much the same way. I don’t get it, but again that’s not the point–at least not today.
No, the point is that we now have yet more options for browsers and the feeling from the Web community is that choice is good. But is it? Think of these points:
- Web designers, Web developers, Web producers and anyone just building a Web site now need to “test” the page in yet another browser. Things that work in one browser might not work in another.
- Security flaws can be yet another issue. With multiple choices security for e-commerce can become an even more expensive proposition, and who is going to pay for it?
- Google Chrome looks nice and solid, but as it’s been reported it still doesn’t handle some Flash-based sites as well as IE. Mozilla Firefox has had similar problems and required greater system resources to run some pages—something far more noticeable on lower-end PCs. How will these issues be resolved and more importantly, can these issues be resolved?