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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 12/ 3/2010

Google ships Chrome 8. Did you notice?

By Rob Pegoraro

A new version of Google's Chrome browser arrived Thursday. But if you didn't know that -- or saw an update prompt in your browser and clicked through it without caring -- you're forgiven.

google_chrome_8.PNG

I, for one, am in no position to judge. The last individual Chrome release I reviewed at any length was ... wait, was it really Chrome 2?

As TechCrunch's MG Siegler noted Thursday afternoon, the speedy pace of new Chrome updates and the lack of major new features in each of them have combined to cheapen the version number in this application.

The new release's only notable addition is a built-in PDF reader that takes the place of your usual Portable Document Format plug-in--Adobe Reader in Windows, Apple's Preview in Mac OS X.

I'm not sure it's as necessary as it would have been two months ago. While Adobe Reader's security issues are old news here, the just-shipped Reader X has the same "sandboxing" protection as Chrome 8's PDF software: Both are walled off from critical parts of Windows to limit a virus's potential damage.

You do get freedom from Adobe's annoying update routines, since Chrome should update this plug-in for you, just as it does with its bundled version of the Adobe Flash plug-in.

In the bargain, however, both Reader and Preview users may be confused by the absence of familiar toolbars. Mac owners in particular lose some useful shortcuts to save a PDF or open it in OS X's Preview app.

Google's release notes also detail a variety of security updates. I'd say they alone make this upgrade worth getting--but since Chrome looks for and installs its own updates with a minimum of user intervention, it's not like you have much work to do.

Chrome has been gaining market share pretty steadily this year. Are you among the people responsible for that shift? If so, do you have anything to add to this write-up of Chrome 8 besides "you mean I was running Chrome 7 before?"

By Rob Pegoraro  | December 3, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Security, The Web  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: LastPass buys Xmarks, rescuing bookmarks-sharing app
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Comments

I've been using Chrome for a short while now and have managed to deal with most of its quirks with plugins. Aside from security issues, the only thing I want in an update right now is an "are you sure?" box when you try to close multiple tabs at once. I haven't seen a plugin that addresses this adequately (the one I found is unstable) and it boggles the mind Google hasn't responded to the complaints about this.

Posted by: marksabbatini | December 3, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

I've certainly got no objections to Chrome, and in fact give it an extended trial from time to time (most recently, about two weeks ago) but keep drifting back to Firefox. Maybe I don't do any particularly exotic kinds of browsing, but I don't see a huge speed or stability difference between the two, and sometimes Chrome is a little too slick -- that is, old-fashioned menus and the like have some advantages... I'll keep giving Chrome a shot, though, as it is really good tohave some choices --

Posted by: mjohnston1 | December 3, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I was using Chrome but stopped because I SO like 1Password and the plugin to Chrome wasn't ready. Recently, the agileweb folks greatly improved the 1password plugin to Chrome so I'm back now to using it.

Posted by: jbernstein3 | December 3, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Is there a way to force it to use the plug-in if we'd prefer?

Posted by: novanglus | December 3, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I have been a devoted user of Firefox, until there was no way to stop the dreaded "doubleclick" virus. I had to run Firefox in "safe mode" to avoid constant attack.

After Rob posted some comments about Chrome I decided to give it another try and, so far, it's been fine. I miss some of the Firefox features, plus I wish it had better integration with gmail and "call phone", but it does seem to be faster for me.

Posted by: panamacanuck | December 3, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Until Google's Chrome browser can run the Google toolbar, I won't be using it. Still baffles me, and I've never seen a satisfactory explanation why Google won't support its own toolbar.

Posted by: Pollux | December 3, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I use Chrome as a default browser because of its speed of launch. I don't necessarily keep my browser up 24/7 when using my machine, so being able to click (just for instance) my email update from Washington Post on an article of instance (this being the most recent) to see it quickly is a real pleasure. I use Firefox for browsing where it's specialized add-ins help, but for quick access and launch, I use Chrome daily.

As far as the new feature, integrated PDF is indeed a nicety, but doesn't save me from Adobe Update hassles due to the need in a corporate environment to be able to read distributed PDFs anyway. Reader is just something most of us enterprise professionals just have to live with.

Posted by: rgrenfell | December 3, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

thanks for letting us know about this.

on a PC running XP, the 'icons' that have always accompanied the URLs from previously opened sites that appear when i open a new tab, have disappeared. i only get a link with the first 20 letters of the sites name.

curious if this has happened to anyone else.

i get the icons, as before, on my MacBook (10.5.8).

Posted by: ValleyDriver | December 3, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I've switched to Google Chrome from Firefox because the latest version of Firefox won't let me view Excel or MS Word files. That's not a problem with Chrome, and Chrome turns out to be faster all around. My only problem with it is that it's autofill feature for username and password is not very flexible. If there is no username field or it's not named properly, the password will not be filled in.

Posted by: Prof12 | December 3, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I use chrome because it is less troublesome than IE. And as far as this update not being a big deal. Good. I am sick of being disrupted by MS updates. Software updates should be uneventful.

Posted by: CharlesS | December 3, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

My Windows desktop now has Firefox and Chrome available to run. I'm finding that Chrome is much faster and does not get hung up as Firefox seems to do regularly. Also, since Chrome uses processes different processes for different browser windows, unlike Firefox's threads approach, the browser windows are truly independent and one cannot hang up another. However, I am finding bugs and deficiencies in Chrome.

1) Views in some nested BBS threads (ex: IMDB.com) simply do not work in Chrome. The page source shows that the underlying information is not present for display in Chrome, so at some point it's been dropped. I use Firefox for these applications such as IMDB.com.

2) Zotero does not work in Chrome at all. Either Chrome does not have an extension architecture (a more fundamental lack) or has an incompatible one. Zotero is answering with a stand alone product that will run parallel with any browser and communicate back and forth. A preview version is available.

3) I miss the search boxes for different web sites such as wikipedia, Amazon, IMDB, etc, that are available in Firefox and not at all, that I can see, in Chrome. The fairly clumsy alternative approach of Chrome is not acceptable to me and I always go to Firefox when I want to run these searches.

As with many of these issues in the PC domain, waiting it out seems a more reasonable approach than rummaging through internals. I guess that by next spring the situation will be far different.

Posted by: dcc1968 | December 3, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Firefox is still the hands down best browser. It has so many upgrades available that there isn't really a fair comparison.

That said, I use Chrome as well - keep both FF and C open on different screens - some sites work better with one browser than the other.

I like the basic, no frills layout and the corresponding fast load Chrome. But their PDF reader was a major issue with me as it repeatedly crashed/failed to load, so an upgrade is much appreciated.

Posted by: prb123 | December 3, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I noticed. I've had trouble with Adobe's PDF plug-in and with it's frequent and awkward updates. Chrome's last version (7) had the least obvious improvements, but this is the fifth major release in 2010, which have included many improvements like extensions, the omnibox (combining URL and search input), and bookmarks and preferences synchronized across machines. New improvements may now seem less obvious, but most other browsers are still working to catch-up to the earlier ones, and to Chrome's excellent performance. I'm very happy it and prefer it to other browsers.

Posted by: DaleSundstrom | December 3, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

You might find this weird, but the first reason I chose to use Chrome as my primary browser instead of firefox or IE, was how minimalistic it is!

I couldn't stand IE 6 or 7 because of how much space the toolbars took! Firefox was better, but still too much space is being occupied by the browser UI itself.
Bad idea.

Second reason, is that FINALLY, someone combined the address bar with the search bar into one!

Most people don't care what search engine they are using, they just want to type, and get results. They don't want to differentiate between a URL and a search keyword. They just want it to work out of the box.

Chrome was the first browser to do that, Kudos!

Firefox and IE, take note.

This is a glimpse of Chrome's pros!

Now let's talk cons:

1. No really useful plugins.
2. No decent Download managers, and default download manager is terrible.
3. NoScript not supported. (How is this possible?)

So as you can see, Chrome is VERY lacking in functionality. Useability is great, but I will always find myself launching both chrome and firefox, chrome because it can handle more open pages (because each window is its own process), and if any of them hangs, I can simply look at my Task Manager and kill the process with the most CPU usage.

And Firefox for downloading, and using NoScript

Posted by: beliha | December 3, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

In response to the person asking about Google toolbar integration into Chrome, you do realize you can simply type in your search into the address bar, right? Saves you screen space!

Personally, I hate toolbars! Nothing is more annoying to me than using someone else's computer, and launching their browser, only to find half the screen covered in toolbars that add no real functionality.
Yahoo toolbar, Google toolbar, MSN toolbar, blah blah .. get off my UI please!! Thank you!

Posted by: beliha | December 3, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

@marksabbatini

When you open a new tab, there is a "recently closed" bar at the bottom. If you closed a whole window with multiple tabs, you will see a folder icon with a description like "5 tabs". Click that and you'll have everything back, including back/forward history.

Posted by: zarakon | December 3, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Firefox has more editing features in Google Docs than Chrome. Chrome and Safari are good with HTML5, but for most everything else Firefox is much more sophisticated. I use Mac computers, so I can't speak for how Chrome performs on the other types.

Posted by: PhilSeymour | December 3, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Chrome is the best browser in terms of performance. However, there are still fewer add-ons for Chrome than FF. Everyone knows that add-ons eat into performance but for many users, add-ons add functionality not provided by the 'vanilla' browsers that Google and Mozilla release.

That is one of the reasons why no matter how much Microsoft continues to improve Internet Explorer, IE will continue to lose share even though it is the default Windows browser.

Posted by: tuber | December 3, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Chrome’s auto-update feature is SO unobtrusive I take it for granted. Except at the office where our firewall prevents it from working. So there I have to install it again when a new version becomes available. My work machine was still on Chrome version 6...

One thing that is a pill about Chrome is that it has to be installed for each separate user profile on Windows. So even though I install it on my profile at home and it auto-updates, my wife has to install it for her profile separately. Don’t have to bother with that with Firefox -- one install fits all, and bookmarks etc. are handled by separate FIREFOX profiles irrespective of the Windows login.

Posted by: 54Stratocaster | December 3, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Whoa, this must be why I was actually able to download a bus schedule from wmata.com today. I noticed it looked different...

Posted by: stalkeyedfly | December 3, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

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