However, I get the feeling sometimes that browsers have gone the way of most operating systems lately. Let me explain.
Quite often in recent days, I have seen a URL or a subject offline that I have quickly wanted to research. So I race to one of my 3 laptops and click on the browser icon to launch Firefox/Chrome/Safari depending on what sort of mood I’m in. This is a typical scenario:
00:00 “Dum de dum..Ah, there’s my trusty Firefox icon..*double-click*…”
00:12 “Tum te tum…hmm, I don’t remember it Taking THIS long to start up before…oh well…”
00:17 “Oh, a dialog saying that the latest upgrade to 3.5 has been downloaded. Do I want to install?..Oops, I accidentally pressed [Enter], looks like it is going to install anyway…probably for the best..”
00:32 <Lots of finger and foot tapping while watching progress bar>
01:03 “Oh, a dialog asking whether I want to upgrade my Firefox Extensions. Well, I guess I will – newer is always better, isn’t it? *click*…”
01:41 “Hmm, another dialog – Cannot find Web Developer Extensions 1.6.1. Not much I can do here – only choice is to accept the fact and move on..*click*..”
01:55 “Ah, nearly there now, I finally have a browser window…”
02:09 “Wait! Another dialog – Now I have to upgrade my browser Themes. Tsk! Ok then..*click*…”
02:27 “Yet another dialog – 2 themes cannot be upgrade. Once again, only choice is to acknowledge and move on…*click*..”
02:45 “Finally, a web page…but wait, it’s not my iGoogle home page – it’s a Firefox page telling me that I have just upgraded to the latest version?”
02:46 “Getting impatient now – just click on the address bar and start typing www.goo…”
02:48 “Ack, what now? A popup has just appeared in the lower right corner saying that Firefox has found a later release and that I should upgrade?!? Didn’t I just do that?”
So, as you can see, nearly a full 3 minutes later, I have completely lost my original train of thought of what I wanted to achieve this session, simply because the browser refused to get out of the way and let me get on with my task, which was to simply load a page.
Now I know that this is an extreme case, but it actually happened to me 3 times this week on all three of my laptops when trying to cold start the machines and launch Firefox to do something quickly on the web. Not just Firefox, I had similar experiences with Internet Explorer upgrading itself to version 8. Remember when we used to rail against our operating systems for always jumping up in front of us, blithely refusing to accept that we could not care less about it and that we actually had real work to do? Welcome back to that world.
One can only hope that Google’s Chrome OS will do things like upgrade itself and update any extensions and themes quietly in the background with minimum fuss and user intervention. I hope the Google engineers do not lose sight of the fact that the prime reason for the browser is to get the user to the web site they are looking for as quickly as possible. Everything else is just candy.
(Guest post by Devan Sabaratnam)