It was an innocuous question, part of a grander lunchtime chat about life, the Internet, and The Future Way of Things. My coworker was curious about the benefits of open-source--specifically those advantages with a dollar sign preceding them--and naturally thought that the upstart Google operating system could someday attract a huge portion of Microsoft Windows's market share.
Why wouldn't enterprise businesses love the Google solution? The amount of money they would be able to save from the reduced desktop licensing requirements would be large enough to transform a CFO's eyes into saucers, Roger Rabbit-style. Similarly, entities that rely on a variety of customized programs and applications to conduct business could weave these elements into the open-source architecture of Chrome OS.
So let's roll out the red carpet and prep the TV hosts for the big unveiling of Chrome OS in big busin... or not. There's one reason, and one reason only, why an open-source desktop isn't going to succeed in the consumer or enterprise markets: Microsoft was there first.
If you haven't done so already, be sure to grab the latest Chrome browser update (Tools Menu > About Google Chrome) and upgrade to version 22.214.171.1246. Included in the latest update are several security fixes, including five "high" priority ones. These include:
Race conditions and pointer errors int he sandbox infrastructure
Memory error with malformed SVG
Memory error with empty SVG element
The latest Chrome release also comes with a few new features, including a translate infobar, certain privacy features, and disabling the experimental anti-reflected-XSS feature called "XSS Auditor."
Ever since its release, Google has tagged Chrome installs with a unique ID. The search giant is now reportedly abandoning that practice. Future versions of the browser will still install with a unique ID that will be used to check for the first automatic update. After that task is complete, the ID will be deleted.
It has always been Google’s position that the client ID was only used to determine when users update, and in the event of a crash (but only if crash reporting is turned on). Some privacy advocates have long held that the unique identifier could lessen browser privacy. However, no one has ever been able to show that to be the case.
As Chrome continues to gain market share, Google appears to be tweaking it to keep it palatable to users. There is a certain amount of Google fatigue out there, and if privacy concerns become too pervasive, Google could lose public trust. Even though there was no confirmed privacy breach caused by this feature, does its removal make you feel more comfortable using Chrome?
Remember that old maxim that says we use only about 10 percent of our brain’s capacity? It’s been proven as hokum by modern neuroscience, but we think we can safely apply the same basic analogy to Google: The vast, vast, vast majority of computer users—even those practiced in hardcore nerdery—are almost certainly using a pitiful fraction of all the applications and features intrinsic to Google’s ever-expanding matrix of software code.
Sure, a Maximum PC reader may be well-versed in Google’s advanced search operators (Google allintext: “advanced search operators” if you missed that chapter), but we’re willing to wager that even the most curious among you haven’t taken the time to play with more than a few Google applications, let alone explore all their advanced features. Indeed, Google HQ is a fan-friggin’-amazing hotbed of R&D, but its developers are relatively quiet about the tools they’ve released. And that’s a shame, because Google’s constant innovation should get more press.
To address your inevitable Google knowledge deficit, we commissioned Gina Trapani to share her favorite tips. Gina launched Lifehacker.com, writes about Google for a bazillion media outlets, co-hosts the “This Week In Google” netcast, and pretty much makes it her job to know as much as possible about Google’s sundry apps and features.
Chrome is fast becoming ubiquitous with bling, and if that's the case, Sceptre's new line of 24-inch HD LCD TVs bring the bling like no other displays you've ever seen before.
Sceptre describes the new line as "chic" and "sleek," but no matter what you call it, the all-chrome bezel is sure to turn heads. That might have been Sceptre's intention all along.
"We design our television monitors to not only perform exceptionally, but to also look exceptional in any home," said Cathy Chou, vice president of operations, Sceptre. "When it comes to form and function, we, at Sceptre, like to push the industry envelope."
Behind the bezel sits a 24-inch 1080p full HD LCD display. Sceptre measures the response time at 2ms (G to G). Other specs include a 4000:1 dynamic contrast ratio (1000:1 static), dual HDMI and USB ports, 300 cd/M2 brightness, built-in speakers, and viewing angles measured at 170 L/R and 160 Up/Down.
In addition to chrome, Sceptre's also offering its new set in black, red, pink, and blue, all of which are available now for $400.
As part of a regulatory requirement imposed by the European Union, Microsoft has implemented a browser ballot for European Windows users, and as expected, the ballot has given rise to alternative browsers.
According to Mozilla, more than 50,000 people had downloaded Firefox as a direct result of the choice screen Microsoft is forced to show.
"It's definitely being taken up, so consumers are paying attention and taking advantage of the choice being offered to them," said Thomas Vinje, legal counsel to the European Committee for Interoperable Systems, a lobbying group based in Brussels whose members include Opera.
While the initial results look promising for Firefox and other competitors, Microsoft said it's too early to draw a conclusion on whether the choice screen could lead to significant users ditching Internet Explorer.
There’s a workaround. To keep Chrome on its feet with Gmail running you’ll have to disable the offline option. This requires your going to Options/Under the Hood and removing all of the Gmail-related entires under “Change Gear Settings.” Problem is, you’ll also be removing all of your Gmail offline content.
Another way around the problem, the Download Blog advises: update the browser to the current beta (which will work on the Windows, Linux, and Mac versions), or revert back to a stable build (only for Windows). Windows users can use the Google Chrome Channel Changer to a switch versions.
Beta watching is so much fun. For those in on the hunt, you can check off a sighting of a new beta version of Google Chrome. This new variant on the species is particularly interesting, as it allows easier navigation of a multi-lingual web.
Google explains: “When the language of the webpage you're viewing is different from your preferred language setting, Chrome will display a prompt asking if you'd like the page to be translated for you using Google Translate.” Google readily admits that the translations may not be perfect, but they should be good enough for a user to get the gist of what a web page is about.
This is nothing new--there have long been translations options available on the Internet, for particular passages or entire web pages. What Google has done is make the process more convenient. Rather than hunt down a translation option, Google presents you with one--and starts you off by guessing the original language, which it offers to translate into your preferred language.
While there are arguments to be made that these translations don’t do justice to the original text, it’s better than nothing. And it might prove useful for pushing users into new areas of the Internet, where they can experience the cultures that accompany these other languages.
Also new in this beta are updated privacy features. Besides Chrome’s incognito mode, a new “Privacy” section appears in Chome’s Options dialog allowing quicker, easier access to privacy settings.
Google launched their Chrome browser just over a year ago, and new figures from analytics firm Net Applications seem to indicate things are going quite well indeed. The plucky young browser was the only one of the top five to see any gains in the month of February. While certainly far from being the market leader, Chrome is now solidly in third place with 5.61% of the market. Internet Explorer and Firefox took first and second with 61.58% and 24.23% respectively. IE lost 0.54% and Firefox lost 0.20% last month.
Chrome has gained a reputation for being speedy and usable out of the virtual box. It is also reputed to be more standards compliant than other leading browsers. Whatever the reason, users are responding. The recent 4.0 release brought better HTML5 support, bookmark syncing, and the all important extension support.
Firefox came about at a time when Internet Explorer dominated the market almost completely. There was only one fight to be had for the Mozilla team at that point. Chrome is now up against a still widespread Internet Explorer and a very number two in Firefox. Google may not be overtaking a competitor any time soon, but Chrome is definitely moving in the right direction. So, do you use Chrome? Is it better for you than Firefox?
Show of hands - how many of you are still clinging to Firefox not because it's the perfect browser, but because it's the best alternative out there to Internet Explorer? Probably a good many of you, and the reason why Firefox has been so hard to supplant as the No. 2 gateway to the Web is because Mozilla had the foresight to make it extensible. Thousands of add-ons exist allowing users to custom tailor the open-source browser however they see fit, and it only takes a few mouse clicks to do so.
Well move over Mozilla, and make room for Google Chrome. Why is that? To start with, Google recently added extension support to Chrome, which was previously only available in beta builds. Now that Google has given users the green light to install third-party add-ons, it's a brand new ballgame in the browser world. And in case you haven't heard, Chrome also supports Greasemonkey scripts, of which there are over 40,000 to choose from.
But those aren't the only reasons to give Chrome a second look. Google continues to tweak the underlying code and add features to what's already a fast, lean, and intelligent browser. Chrome is also highly tweakable, though you wouldn't know it by glancing at the sparse interface.
On the following pages, we'll show you how to soup up Chrome so you can leave Firefox in the rear view mirror and never look back!