Chrome 14: The best Web browser keeps getting better (Review)

Chrome 14: The best Web browser keeps getting better (Review)

Summary: Google's Chrome 14 is another step into the lead for the best Web browser of them all.

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It's odd. When Firefox moved into its accelerated development path, Firefox really didn't get much better. In fact, it's been getting less stable. Google's Chrome Web browser though just keeps getting better with every new release. Chrome 14, in my opinion, is now clearly the best Web browser for any operating system available today.

Why? Well, look at all the raw numbers. To see how Chrome 14 ranked, I put it up against the latest releases of Firefox and IE 9 on a Windows 7 box.

When it comes to Web standards compatibility, Chrome 14 is a winner. On the Acid 3 compatibility test, which checks out how well a browser complies with Web standards such as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), JavaScript, and Extensible Markup Language (XML), Chrome had a perfect score. Firefox 6 had a score of 97 and IE had a 95.

On the recently, August 23rd, updated HTML5 Test, which checks to see how compliant the Web browser is with the HTML5 Web page standard, Chrome is king of the mountain again with a score of 341 out of a possible 450. Firefox 6.02 came in second with 313 and IE 9.0.8 came in a distant last with 141. Anyone who tells you that IE is HTML5 compliant is trying to sell you Windows. It's not. It's not even close.

Download.com: Chrome 14

Moving on to performance, I use Chrome 14 on all my systems. That means I use it on various Linux desktop distributions; Chrome OS on a Samsung Chromebook, Mac OS Snow Leopard and Lion and Windows XP and 7 PCs. It runs fast on all of them.

For performance benchmarking, though I use my Gateway DX4710 running Windows 7 SP1. This PC is powered by a 2.5-GHz Intel Core 2 Quad processor and has 6GBs of RAM and an Intel GMA (Graphics Media Accelerator) 3100 for graphics. It's hooked to the Internet via a Netgear Gigabit Ethernet switch, which, in turn, is hooked up to a 60Mbps (Megabit per second) cable Internet connection.

The first benchmark was Kraken 1.0. This is Mozilla's take on the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark In Kraken, lower scores are better. Chrome 14 beat its last version, Chrome 13 and all other comers with a score of 4578.5millisecondss (ms). Chrome 13 had a score 4927.7ms.; Firefox took second with a score of 7588.2ms.; and IE came in last with a wretched 17,051.9ms.

With Peacekeeper, another JavaScript-performance benchmark, where higher scores are better, IE wins with a score of 8,343. Chrome comes in second with 7,663 and Firefox comes in a distant last with 4,588 points.

According to Google's own JavaScript test V8 Benchmark Suite, where higher scores are better, Chrome 14 takes first with 7,591. The others aren't even competitive. Firefox flops with a showing of 3,614 and IE does even worse with 2,193.

Finally, on SunSpider 0.9.1, the oldest of the JavaScript Web benchmark tests, where lower results are better, Chrome wins again with a score of 249.9ms Here the results are much more competitive. IE 9 is hot on its tail with a score of 252.6ms. and Firefox shows well with 301.2ms.

The results? Chrome is more standard compliant and faster than its closest competitors. Chrome has more than just that going for it though. This latest release includes some nice minor fixes and some very interesting major features.

Chrome 14: Pretty and Fast. (Gallery)

The fix I think most people will like is that print preview is now not only included, it works automatically. That's the good news. The bad news is it doesn't work well for Chrome on Macs. The feature, which is powered by Chrome's built-in PDF reader, worked sporadically for me on both my Snow Leopard and Lion systems.

While that was annoying, it was nice to see the feature work perfectly on my Linux and Windows systems. Mac users may be mollified to find that Chrome 14 does work with Lion's overlay scrollbars. You can also use the hot-key combo of Ctrl+Shift+F to activate basic support for Lion's full-screen mode.

The two important new features aren't going to be important to you in the short run, but it may be a different story in the long run.

The first, Web Audio application programming interface (API) lets developers create interesting sounds effects for games and applications. With it, programmers can add 3D dynamically positioned sounds sources and mix multiple sound sources. The results can be quite interesting. Try and see for yourself. I can see some very interesting games and musical applications coming out of this.

A far more significant feature is that Chrome 14 now supports C and C++ applications in Google's Native Client SDK (software developer kit). Native client lets developers create local applications that run locally within Chrome.

What that means isn't, as some people will have it, that Google is trying to redefine the Web. No, but what Google is doing, as has been doing ever since they introduced Chrome OS, is to redefine the desktop. What's important about Native Client is that instead of just running applications off the Web, you'll be able to run local applications at your machine's full speed instead of at your Internet's speed. In addition, since Native Clients run within the Chrome security sandbox, they're much safer than most applications.

Put Native Client applications together with Google's support for HTML5 local data storage for its applications and it's clear than ever that Google wants Chrome to be just not your browser, but your operating system as well. At this time, there are only a handful of Native Client applications and those are only available via the Chrome Web Store, but I see big things coming here.

Indeed, I see big things coming for Chrome in general. It's not only faster and more fully featured than ever, it's also becoming more popular by the day. Indeed, in some South American countries, Chrome is already the number one Web browser. At this rate, I can see the day when it's the number one Web browser in the world.

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Topics: Apps, Browser, Google, Microsoft

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251 comments
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  • Nothing I didn't expect

    Artificial and pointless "performance" tests that Chrome has essentially been built around. Pointless "HTML5 Compliance tests" that are really only based on what that individual thinks is important (and not the standards committee).

    Claims that firefox is unstable, while I've never had a crash (and I'm using the 'unstable nightly'). There isn't a noticeable speed difference between chrome and Firefox.

    Don't let the facts get in the way, right?
    Michael Alan Goff
    • RE: Chrome 14: The best Web browser keeps getting better (Review)

      @Michael Alan Goff You know, I've supported Firefox since it was just some warmed over Netscape code, and I want to like it. I can't. The 4.x series was slow as sludge. Since then, FF locks up on me all the time on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. I'm sorry, but it's just not a very good browser any more. I wish it were. I wish the developers would focus on cleaning and stablizing the code instead of adding features and functionality. It's in real need of a complete tune-up rather than a new version.
      sjvn@...
      • subjective

        @sjvn@...

        As I said, I cannot notice any speed difference, lack of stability. Actually, my chrome browser has crashed more (2-3 times in the past month) than Firefox has (2-3 times in the past 3 months).

        Also, those tests were useless even before chrome came out. They have no real bearing on the value of the browser. Why should I care about low JavaScript scores when webkit messes up the WYSIWYG on a few sites I frequent?
        Michael Alan Goff
      • RE: Chrome 14: The best Web browser keeps getting better (Review)

        @sjvn@... Personally I disagree. I've been using the firefox beta as my main browser for the last 6 months and had no issues whatsoever. Disabled compatibility checking and all of my addons work perfectly. I haven't experienced a crash in at least 2 months (which is something I can't say with chrome) and as I speak I'm typing this from the FF9 nightly. The only thing I've had issues on the nightly with was flash, and that was fixed after 2 patches.<br><br>I honestly don't know what to say. PEBCAK? Running windows 7, can't speak for OSX and Linux.<br><br>And honestly, FF9 feels absolutely on-par with chrome, if not surpassing it a bit.

        And saying that Firefox and IE flopped compared to Google Chrome on a benchmark designed by Google and used by Google to tune Google Chrome's V8 javascript engine is hardly an accurate representation of real-world performance.
        Caveman22
      • RE: Chrome 14: The best Web browser keeps getting better (Review)

        @sjvn@...
        I am running Firefox on Linux = no problems, and on Windows, just fine..... Before totally dumping Mac, I did have two updates of Firefox completely fail -- would not open. Doesn't matter however, as I now use Linux on my Mac Mini and it is A-OK, the OS and the Firefox browser.

        For Windows, I would say Chrome or Firefox is just a toss-up, as both run excellent. Both take a good deal of RAM, and I think Firefox may still have some memory leaks, but RAM on Windows is cheap.
        mytake4this
      • RE: Chrome 14: The best Web browser keeps getting better (Review)

        Doesnt change the fact that ACID3 is a crap css test and sunspider and derivatives are crap perf tests. That chrome is coded to work with non standard css to pass ACID3 is not a good thing.
        Johnny Vegas
      • RE: Chrome 14: The best Web browser keeps getting better (Review)

        @sjvn@...
        Might be your machines or your setups as I find FF out does Chrome every day. i use both and FF seems to open and search noticeable faster and the chrome layout and look is pretty off putting. It has almost an apple feel of sterility to it and I ama a google fan just not so much of the Chrome line up. I even prefer Opera over Chrome. I still declare Firefox tops in the overall daily browser with zero lock ups or freezes. IE well tey fall way short of usable and I do not even consider them a contender in todays browser market.
        Fletchguy
      • RE: Chrome 14: The best Web browser keeps getting better (Review)

        @sjvn@... Its funny Chrome is constantly giving me messages that it can't display something or it crashes Flash sites even Google's own Youtube. Why don't you grow up no one browser is the best, they all have their strengths and weaknesses. I use Chrome and IE as I have two sites that won't display on Chrome, I won't use Firefox because it is always asking me to lessen my rule on third party cookies, it nagged once too often. Is Chrome better than IE or IE better than Chrome, the easy answer is no and you don't need artificial tests to make that statement.
        Rndmacts
      • RE: Chrome 14: The best Web browser keeps getting better (Review)

        @sjvn@... Are you using the Latest from your Linux Distro or Downloading it from Firefox? Both work fine for me and are quit zippy.
        phil1234
      • RE: Chrome 14: The best Web browser keeps getting better (Review)

        @sjvn@... You've become a punch line SJVN. You don't even have the credibility or objectivity to be taken seriously anymore, regardless of which browser is better.<br><br>Browser is free software to consume web content. I couldn't care less about which is better. A browser is not important enough to get into fanboy banter.
        jhammackHTH
      • Not what I got

        @sjvn@...

        Setup:
        Intel MB DP55KG
        Intel i5-650
        8GB Quickest Corsair Memory
        ATI 5750 Fanless Video
        WinXP Pro SP3

        .9.1 Spider test:
        206.1 on Firefox 6.0.2
        232.4 on Google 14
        3700+ on IE8

        Have gotten 198 in the past with Spider test with earlier versions of Firefox. Also Google has smaller footprint memory. But real world performance these guys are close.

        Now the most important test. Privacy. You see no matter how advanced Google gets, this is a deal breaker. Might be good as a public kiosk where tracking would be rendered useless. But for those that want to remain anonymous, forget about it.
        osreinstall
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      • RE: Chrome 14: The best Web browser keeps getting better (Review)

        @sjvn@...

        Your bias for Chrome is acute Steve. It's simple, you trash Firefox with every release and you kiss Chrome's rear end with every release. I don't experience these phantom crashes you speak of, maybe your plugins are lame? Where's your missive about HTTP pipelining and the fact that Chrome doesn't have it? Pick some other topic and spare us from the severely biased Chrome fan boy talk.

        Thanks,
        -M
        betelgeuse68
      • RE: Chrome 14: The best Web browser keeps getting better (Review)

        @sjvn@... Just to keep you current, IE9 now passes the Acid test 100%. May want to update your blog.
        goombawa
    • HTML5 hype has new twist

      ... now that even Google is, correctly I might add, 2nd-guessing Javascript's role as a sound programming language for modern web going forward.
      LBiege
      • RE: Chrome 14: The best Web browser keeps getting better (Review)

        @LBiege

        You're talking about their 'dart' project, aren't you?

        I wish I knew more about that, instead of reading the gushing praise about how chrome beats all.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • RE: Chrome 14: The best Web browser keeps getting better (Review)

        @LBiege

        I fully agree re: JavaScript (and by extension ActionScript) being a poor language for web development. What would you suggest? C/C++ are Chrome exclusive. Asp.Net variants are exclusive to IE. Java is usable by all, but Sun dropped the ball big time on Applets...and the window was closed by the time they got it right (to Flex ActionScript.)

        @sjvn

        My main reason for sticking (for now) with Firefox has everything to do with add ons. If you can point me to a chrome plugin with the same capabilities as FF's NoScript, then I'll give it another go...
        CyberZombie
    • RE: Chrome 14: The best Web browser keeps getting better (Review)

      @Michael Alan Goff
      No, I don't think so. It should be named RUST, not Chrome
      Alienwilly
      • RE: Chrome 14: The best Web browser keeps getting better (Review)

        Nothing wrong with Chrome, I just don't see any browser as being "the best" and despise worthless tests such as the ones that the media seem to harp on.
        Michael Alan Goff
    • RE: Chrome 14: The best Web browser keeps getting better (Review)

      @Michael Alan Goff
      My primary browser is Firefox on Mac OS X. I like Firefox a lot except it crashes all the time, there are some things that most definitely will crash it and there are sporadic crashes that I can't associate with any particular action or event. Crashes almost every day, sometimes a dozen times a day. The misery came once it passed version 4.x.
      I am sorry they ever got into that "fast development cycle" c. They better get their act straight sooner than later or else they'll lose most of their share.

      Don't let the facts get in the way, right?

      PS: Those "performance" test are pointless, indeed.
      x233