The dominant search and advertising company wouldn’t mind if you gave its chief rival, Microsoft, a little discomfort by trying out Google Chrome, a fast web browser that competes with Internet Explorer.
Google’s effort at taking on a slice of the browser market proved a little hard to digest at first for privacy advocates. They complained about some of the terms of service for Google Chrome, a beta version of Google’s web browser for Windows XP and Vista.
Google blamed the problem on using legal boilerplate for the license, which initially gave Google a perpetual, royalty-free license on anything anyone typed into Google Chrome. A later revision to Google Chrome’s license replaced the offending clause with a more appropriate one.
With or without the new licensing terms, plenty of people have and will download Chrome and give it a try. Webmasters should expect to see its user agent (Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US) AppleWebKit/525.13 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/0.X.Y.Z Safari/525.13.) appear in server logs as more users adopt it.
As an open source product, Google made Chrome to be as friendly as possible with common web development standards. One’s website should look in Chrome as it does in other major browsers, meaning there won’t be a need for goofy CSS tricks to make the site appear correctly.
Google’s status as the powerful force in web search provoked not only privacy concerns, but thoughts that adopting Chrome meant becoming one with all of Google’s services. Microsoft became famous for this kind of dependent interoperability, something that came back to haunt the software company in the form of antitrust lawsuits.
Google prefers to have no part of such shenanigans. As their well-known web spam engineer, Matt Cutts, pointed out on his personal blog, Google didn’t make Chrome to be a permanent AdSense window bombarding people with ads.
The company didn’t make Google Search the default in Chrome, either. “By default, Google Chrome imports your default search engine from your default browser,” said Cutts.
That’s hardly a daring move by Google. In the United States, Google holds nearly 62 percent of search market share, per figures from measurement firm comScore. It’s a safe bet that the default search from another browser will be Google.
Once inside, a person typing in the Chrome address bar, dubbed the Omnibox, will receive suggestions based on their input. These suggestions offer web pages and potential searches as options for the user to select, without having to type in an entire query.
Chrome also borrowed an idea from the Opera web browser and that company’s Speed Dial feature. Opening a new tab in Chrome shows the most visited sites, something Chrome learns over time and usage.
Site publishers may find their more cutting edge tech users among the customer base coming from Chrome. Some breathless journalist types proceeded so far as to pronounce Chrome as Google’s entry into the desktop operating system race with Microsoft; simply, it isn’t.
However, Internet Explorer owns the browser market. As good as alternatives from Mozilla, Opera, and Apple may be, Microsoft maintains its lead. Google Chrome doesn’t change that. Chrome appeals to the person who wants to try something new, but that’s not a majority of web users.
Internet Explorer’s default presence in Windows, and the customization options and add-ons for Mozilla’s Firefox, coupled with the longer history for those two products, probably means Chrome’s future ends when the initial curiosity fades. Its usage won’t bode ill or well for webmasters; just something different to note when doing analytics.