Browser Wars: Part Deux?

The big news this week is the release of Chrome the new web browser from Google. There is no shortage of opinions about the effectiveness of the browser and whether it will hold up over time. But should a new browser really be all that scary? Not if we lived in Utopia, but last I checked I don’t live or work there. If I did I’m sure the commute will be killer.

Think back to the early days of the web. Our options were pretty limited and we coded to a specification that the browser was supposed to use. Then Netscape and IE got the fancy idea that they would push new technology in the browser that sat outside the spec. For those that built sites using a mac you no doubt remember the heartache when you pulled up your well formed code in IE for the first time. So we began to work around the issues even then. My partners in crime decided we would code for everything. We would not use anything special for IE or Netscape just stick to the basics so we would have a consistent user experience.

Fast forward to 2008 and here we are staring at the prospect of another browser that could potentially cause us some product management issues. Think about what we are facing today. Firefox still has two versions floating around, IE 5, 6 and 7 and Safari (mac and iPhone). Of course those are the big ones but if we get picky we can look at Opera, Konquerer and all sorts of mobile device browsers. I have even seen WebTV showing up in some recent logs. Yes, I said WebTV!

When was the last time QA said, “It works fine in Browser A and B but falls to pieces in Browser C”? Will Chrome become another thorn in our side? Time will tell. But I see Firefox, Safari and IE rattling sabres not willing to go down without a fight.

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