Google Chrome vs Mozilla Firefox

Google Chrome vs Mozilla Firefox

Feb, 17 '10 Subject: Chrome vs Firefox, Viewed by: 5

Finally, Google Chrome is out of the box and into the sunlight for us to play. So, I did install it and started playing around. Since there are many sources which describe the features of the browser, I thought I would do an initial comparison with my current browser instead. Here we go.

Chrome vs  Firefox

First of all I should mention the setup. When I installed Chrome, I chose to import all my settings from Firefox to Chrome (bookmarks and history included).

Start up Time

On my computer, Firefox takes 8-9 seconds to start and be ready for use. Chrome on the other hand took about a split second to be up and running. And that’s not all of course, it also shows me the most visited site in its default view when it opens.

Chrome is faster by orders of magnitude in starting up as compared to Firefox.

Memory Consumption

After starting both, they end up taking similar amounts of memory to begin with (around 50 MB). However, Chrome is running one extra process (when I view it in my Task Manager). It turns out that chrome fires up one process for every tab that is open (plus one to manage all of these tabs).

Next, I opened up 10 different web pages in 10 different tabs on each browser (the same set on both). Here, Firefox shot up to 132 MB, and chrome opened up multiple processes (one per tab), the total memory for all of these added up to about 230 MB.

Chrome is more memory hungry as compared to FireFox.

However, when I closed all the tabs (except one), Chrome quickly went down to 20 MB, but FireFox went down only to 96 MB.

Firefox takes much longer to release memory resources.

I have to say that there is some smarts behind creating each tab as a separate process:

  • Stability – I think this would make the browser more stable. In Firefox, sometimes if one site is misbehaving, then I need to kill the browser (and along with it all the other tabs which are open).
  • Security – initial thought suggests, that it will make each tab a bit more isolated from the rest, so may end up making the browser more secure.

Update: In fact, having multiple processes for multiple tabs does help in stability a lot. There is a develop menu in Chrome which lets you access its inbuilt Task Manager. Here I can select and close individual tabs. Eat your heart out Firefox.

Usability Observations

There are some other things that I checked which were important to me from a usability perspective:

  • Chrome has more real estate as compared to Firefox another thing I liked about Chrome is the increased real estate. Chrome puts the tabs on the Title bar of the window. This adds even more real estate for the part which displays the content. Also consider the fact that there is no status bar. Another point for adding real estate. The status shows up within the page.
  • Zooming is better in Firefox – I love the way Firefox zooms the entire page instead of just increasing the text size. It’s very handy on my resolution (1920×1200). Instead, Chrome only increases the size of the text, without expanding the layout, which makes the page pretty unreadable after a point.
  • Offline Page Caching is better in Firefox – this is another feature in Firefox which I love. Even if I am offline, Firefox will serve a page from the disk (as it was viewed last) for most of my pages.
  • Address Bar Readability is better in Chrome – Chrome highlights the domain name of part of the website you are visiting (or fades the rest) so that it is very easy to tell which site you are visiting when there are long URL’s that can distract you.
  • Resizable Text Area in Chrome – all text areas in the various web pages have a size handle on them which allows you to change the size. Not extremely useful, but it may come in handy at times. Take a look at the picture below to see what I am saying:


Notice the resize handle on the lower right of the text box. This is the comment box on. I can make the box bigger.

Try out Google Spreadsheets, and every cell is extensible like this.

Not very useful, at this stage. But I can imagine this coming in handy on certain web pages.

Application Shortcuts

This deserves a mention on its own. While I can always do this with the other browsers, I will have to put in a lot of effort. And earlier on, it won’t be worth the hassle. However through Chrome, I have the following on my Quick Launch bar:

quicklaunchNotice the Icon with the tool tip. When I click that icon, my gmail account opens in its own nice Chrome Window (and once I have sized it, it remembers the size per such application shortcut). So, now I don’t need to open a browser to visit my most used applications (notice the icon next to Gmail launches my analytics account). When I click on the icon, it launches the following Window:

Pretty neat, I think. I have now a bunch of these ‘web applications’ that I use regularly with their own icons on my quick launch bar (and mapped to my SlickRun). Like I said, the fact that this is so easy to do makes it a worthwhile activity (it takes three clicks).

I am sure there are many more things that I will find which are different between the two browsers, and I will update this post as I find them. So keep checking back.

Update: I have to mention (as so many readers have pointed out in comments) that in practice there is absolutely no comparison between the two browsers because the extensibility of FireFox by way of its add-ons make it infinitely better than Chrome. Having said this, remember that Chrome is still a baby when it comes to browser lifetimes.

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