Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Chrome: Google Does Evil.

Google's released it's own browser, Chrome. Other people are doing in-depth reviews, so I won't. (Here are a couple: ComputerWorld. ZDNet.) However, I'd like to pass on a few first impressions. In doing so, I can't help but make comparisons to my favorite browser, Firefox. I doing the review I found a MAJOR show-stopper for the adoption of Chrome, Docs, or any SaaS from Google. I'm saving the worst for last.
  1. The UI is minimal. Too minimal for me. I like the customizability of Firefox, and I like the ability to use themes. My browser should look the way I want it to.
  2. The functionality is minimal. Again, too minimal for me. One of the very best things about Firefox is the ability to use extensions, none of which work in Chrome. My browser should work the way I want it to.
  3. Speaking of work, Chrome puts "app shortcuts" on my desktop. This kicks off a minimalist window without browser controls, and frankly I don't see the point of it. At all. You want the users not to know they're using a browser? Why? So they can bombard Tech Support with questions about "desktop" apps that fail to work when the network is down? My opinion: it's a pretty dumb move that insults the user base. According to Google you're too dumb to use an app in a browser; you might get confused.
  4. I don't much like the way Chrome does bookmarks, either. Firefox's sidebar is superior in every way the cascading "mystery meat" menus of Chrome.
  5. Chrome is blindingly fast. That's a good thing. Nevertheless, I'm sticking with Firefox. The performance advantage of Chrome is significant but transient in a world where open-source makes all technology shareable.
  6. While some people like the "most visited" feature, I don't. My most visited websites are on my bookmark bar, as little unobtrusive icons. I know where they are and how to tell them apart. I do not need them thrown up in my face as giant thumbnails.
  7. I DESPISE THE EULA. In fairness, this is in part the licensing agreement for Google services, like Google docs. And it clearly gives Google a license to use your documents, even those that you think are private, or company-sensitive.
"By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any content which you submit, post or display on or through, the services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the services and may be revoked for certain services as defined in the additional terms of those services."
The EULA alone is enough to put me off of using the Chrome browser, Google Docs, or gmail as a primary email address. I STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU DO NOT USE GOOGLE SERVICES for ANY company information. I'm all for freedom of information, but you should choose whether and when to release it. Delegating that right to Google (or any other company) is - to put it mildly - the most outrageously stupid decision you can make for your company.

I am aware of the revocation clause. I am also aware that Google dictates the "additional terms of those services". This isn't a negotiable thing. Once again... it's a bad idea to put your company's data in somebody else's hands. It's a monumentally stupid idea to give it to somebody who tells you in advance that they intend to use it for their own purposes without so much as a "mother may I?"

Use the combination of Notes & Domino. Come on folks, it's cheap. It gives you customization and mash-up capabilities that its "competitors" just flat can't touch. It does more than Google or Exchange & Outlook and can be accessed with a browser. It has a complete ODF-compliant office suite built right into the Notes client. There is nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, that Google gives you that justifies that draconian, lop-sided licensing agreement.

Google's credo is "Do no evil". I think they've forgotten that.

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