The browser market has been virtually set ablaze with Google diving in. Boasting a text link on the Google home page during the launch I am sure none of us could have missed that Google has launched a browser of their very own, Chrome. The main hype behind the browser is the speed, minimalist interface and features and the fact that it’s from Google of course. Until now, Firefox has been soaking the sun as the winner of the never ending browser battle however the launch of Chrome even made Firefox a little nervous I’m pretty sure.
After I wrote the Opera vs Firefox post, which turned out to be very responsive I thought I’ll make a similar comparison with this Chrome vs Firefox post. The launch of Firefox 3.5 might make it an easy winner again but until then it’s still a close battle.
While you’d see the same layout and placement of the usual browser style on Chrome, I’d like to call it a more ‘fresh’ interface, the slanted corners for the tabs and the ‘add tab’ button makes it more accessible to add a new tab. Those are just two of the light touches in the interface which makes it more unique.
With the launch of Firefox 4, Firefox dives into the minimalistic layout and it can be safe to say they’ve learnt a thing or two about their interface from their competitor, Chrome. Looking at the browsers it’s hard to find a difference in terms of interface with the release of Chrome 10 and Firefox 4. Both browsers have an impressive array of themes to choose from. This would be a tie.
- Memory Usage
Chrome separates each tab into separate processes for better security (more on that below) and you’d think as a first impression that’s got to result in more memory and recent memory tests prove that Firefox uses less memory. However, the memory usage depends on the other processes running in the application. I use several Firefox Addons thus Chrome appears to tie up less memory. If you use your browser for the standard surfing feature only Firefox would consume less memory, Chrome tends to become a bit of a memory hog with extensions installed. Every extensions is assigned a separate process in Chrome and each process consume a reasonable amount of memory.
Popularity shows which browser is better right? Wrong. While Internet Explorer sucks it still holds the largest browser share. However in terms of popularity, Firefox is clearly the winner, and rightfully so, it’s been around much longer, won a Guinness record and has plenty of fans. Not to forget the browser share which pretty much says it all. Firefox easily wins this.
- Browsing speed
This is one of the highlights of Chrome, without a doubt Chrome is the faster browser. It uses the Webkit layout engine (which is used by Safari as well) as opposed to Firefox which uses the Gecko engine. The Webkit engine is known to be faster, speed tests confirm this and while the differences maybe in milliseconds or just a couple of seconds, surfing the Internet is time consuming, and even the slightest difference in loading speed can save you quite a number of days, weeks or even months in your lifetime! So Chrome wins this one. The launch of Firefox 4 has brought things even tighter in terms of speed of browsing with Firefox’s rendering engine considerably faster than version 3.5, however Chrome still wins this very close battle.
Both browsers offer complete security. While both browsers have had occasional security vulnerabilities thanks to the community these are instantly fixed. However Chrome treats each tab as a separate process, so if one tab contains a malicious website it can be ‘pwned’ without affecting the rest of the browser session thus making it inch ahead of Firefox in terms of security.
- Site and OS Compatibility
Rendering seems to be great with both browsers, Firefox being my primary browser, I can safely say that compatibility with Firefox isn’t an issue. Chrome on the other hand, being a new browser might not be supported by a few sites which is the usual scenario when a new browser hits the market.
Also currently, stable Mac and Linux versions aren’t available for Chrome yet, thus, the winner, Firefox. Chrome has quickly gained a reasonable market share thus most websites which did not support Chrome before, now supports Chrome as lack of support would cost a reasonable chunk of traffic (22% of Computer Realm traffic are from Chrome visitors).
Perhaps the hardest factor to compare in a Chrome vs Firefox match up. Both browsers offer the usual privacy (the CTRL/CMD + Shift + Del) to clear any private data. However for now Chrome leaps ahead of Firefox with their incognito feature which lets you start a new ‘private’ session where no browsing or search history is recorded and cookies are deleted once the session is over.
The winner here, Chrome, until Firefox 3.5 is launched. The launch of Firefox 3.5 has made things level in the privacy aspect of browsing with Firefox’ ‘private browsing’ mode that does pretty much the same as Chrome’s incognito feature. Both browsers also offer the private browsing feature as wel (known as ‘incognito’ in Chrome) thus in terms of privacy it’s pretty much a level playing field.
- Plugins and Addons
Chrome does not have an API for addons as at yet however it is a planned feature for the browser Chrome recently (relatively) started supporting addons (or extensions as they like to call it) and their directory is growing rapidly, Firefox however has supported addons for a long time and has an impressive inventory of them which can really make your life easier when using the web. Plugins however (Java, Flash, etc.) are supported in both browsers. The winner here would be Firefox.
Like I said, Chrome vs Firefox turned out to be a close battle, With the launch of Firefox 4, Firefox may inch ahead of Chrome in terms of overall features however Chrome would be highly recommended if you are a ‘light’ surfer who looks for speed and simplicity over features, addons, etc. The release of Firefox 3.5 would make Firefox a faster, more private browser to what it already is so that might turn the tables completely, however Chrome will be cooking up new features in upcoming releases as well.
It’s hard to predict how things will change with the browser battle, for now I’m happy with my Firefox though. What’s your choice?