Other than moderate contempt for Internet Explorer, which Iâ€™ve found to be slow, tedious bloatware since about IE4, Iâ€™ve always tried to be even handed in recommending browsers to people. â€œTry Chrome or Firefox or Opera, whatever suits youâ€¦â€ Iâ€™d say. And people ask me, because, well, thatâ€™s the kind of thing I tend to have a view on.
Iâ€™ve realised something over the years. People donâ€™t want a choice. Some people do, sure, but most people are happy with the status quo. This is one of the reasons why the Microsoft antitrust ruling giving people a â€˜browser ballotâ€™ choice was so meaningless â€“ whatâ€™s the bet that the vast majority of people just chose the one theyâ€™d heard of â€“ so mostly IE? It’s ronseal name helps it too – after all, why would you think that “Chrome”, “Opera”, “Firefox” or “Safari” had anything to do with browsing the web?
Whilst I do continue to have a fondness for Firefox (and a polite indifference to the nice people at Opera, who Iâ€™m sure make a very good browser), I now pretty much just tell people to use Chrome. And when Iâ€™ve been fixing my parentsâ€™ machines, Iâ€™ve:
- hidden the desktop shortcuts to IE
- set up browser syncing with Chrome across each of their desktop/laptops
- set up the browser toolbars with vital shortcuts that I know theyâ€™ll use daily
- installed the IETab extension so if any website doesnâ€™t work they can still sort it
- set default search to Google and activate Instant on the smartbar
- imported their IE bookmarks
â€¦and so the guerrilla browser warfare kicks off. Weâ€™ll see what happens, if they get stuck or even noticeâ€¦
Why Chrome? Well, itâ€™s amazingly fast, browser sync is awesome if you use a Google Account, password saving actually works, and you get a bigger browsing area than most. It has an intuitive interface, is regularly and automatically updated so easy for people like my parents to use, and supports the latest web standards. In addition, the extensibility of Chrome (as with the add-on capability in Firefox) amps up its potential massively. The fact that new Google Apps / Google features tend to work first in Chrome is a nice bonus.
Why not Safari? Well, in truth, I havenâ€™t used it that much. The lack of a â€˜smartâ€™ search bar offends me since every other browser now does have one, and I wouldnâ€™t know where to start with extending it or browser sync (short of Xmarks, which Iâ€™m sad to say I abandoned when news of its closure hit (but before news of its salvation a few weeks later). My general principle against the Jobs behemoth has definitely wavered of late, so itâ€™s not a matter of principle â€“ interest to know if other people would knowingly choose Safari over Chromeâ€¦
Disclaimer: My agency represents Googleâ€™s Enterprise division in the UK. Iâ€™m not directly involved and donâ€™t have any special insights. These views are all my own based on years of being unofficial tech support for people and my general deputy CIO experience.