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Google Chrome is a fantastic browser, but it has plenty of problems. How easy is it for a Chrome loyalist to switch to Firefox today? I quit Chrome cold turkey to see how it went. After two weeks, I’m back to Chrome on desktop… but Firefox for Android has won me over.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I feel trapped in Chrome I Hate Google Chrome But I'm Trapped In It. Here's Why I Hate Google Chrome But I'm Trapped In It. Here's Why In the Chrome vs. Firefox war, I'm siding with the Google users. But I don't want to. Chrome is my browser of choice because it has features that I can't live without. Read More because of extensions and features that are exclusively available to it. But after my colleague Sandy threw down the gauntlet and challenged all of us to break up with Google Chrome It's Time To Break Up With Google Chrome It's Time To Break Up With Google Chrome As a big fan of Google Chrome for a long time, I finally decided it was time for us to break up. It came down to overall performance, customization, and extensions. Read More , I decided to give it a go.

My browser of choice was Mozilla Firefox, what with Firefox Hello, Pocket integration and other new features Meet Firefox Hello Video Chat & Firefox Marketplace In The New Firefox 35 Meet Firefox Hello Video Chat & Firefox Marketplace In The New Firefox 35 Firefox 35 introduces a cross-platform video chat service called Firefox Hello, lets users beta-test the new Firefox Marketplace, and also bakes in social sharing on the web. Read More . For two weeks, I used Firefox as my primary browser, and only used Chrome when there was no other option. Even on my Android phone, I made Firefox my default browser and used it almost exclusively.

At the end of the two weeks, I was itching to get back to Chrome on the desktop. There’s a lot to love about Firefox, but as things stand today, I’d choose Chrome over it and continue to be trapped in Chrome till Firefox improves its game. And the simple reason is extensions.

Extensions, Extensions, Extensions

Google-Chrome

Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, in his characteristic crazy way, said exactly what any software ecosystem needs to survive: developers. And unfortunately, more developers prefer to build extensions for Chrome than Firefox today.

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Take my recent look at the best YouTube music player extensions These Extensions Make YouTube the Powerful Music Player You Need These Extensions Make YouTube the Powerful Music Player You Need While Apple Music and Spotify slug it out, YouTube remains the best destination if you want to stream songs for free. The only thing better is if you pair it with the right extensions. Read More . I found an incredible extension for Chrome called UpNext, to replace another incredible extension that shut down Streamus Is The Easiest, Coolest Way To Play Music From YouTube In Chrome Streamus Is The Easiest, Coolest Way To Play Music From YouTube In Chrome More teens listen to music through YouTube than any other source. So it makes sense to make it easier to listen to YouTube through your browser. And that's what Streamus does for Google Chrome. Read More . But there’s nothing on Firefox which comes even close. In fact, old Firefox extensions like Firetube no longer work well either.

As someone whose job is to keep track of new software launches, one thing became abundantly clear: Chrome gets all the love now. Celebrated Android developer Koushik Dutta released Vysor, a new way to mirror your Android screen to your Windows/Mac/Linux desktop. The only requirement? You need to have Google Chrome.

The problem has become so bad that Mozilla Firefox has also accepted defeat, in a way. Soon, you will be able to run Chrome extensions on Firefox Running Chrome Extensions in Firefox: What You Need to Know Running Chrome Extensions in Firefox: What You Need to Know Soon, you'll be able to run your favorite Chrome extensions in Firefox. This game-changing development is likely to bring about a new renaissance in Firefox users and revolutionize the way extensions are created. Read More , and maybe things will get better then. But as of now, you miss out on far too many good extensions, even though Firefox has great add-ons 13 Essential Firefox Addons To Begin 2015 Right 13 Essential Firefox Addons To Begin 2015 Right As always, the spotlight is on what developers did with the open-source browser's flexibility. The list of Firefox add-ons just got bigger and better over the past year. Read More of its own, including some exclusive Firefox extensions 7 Extensions Firefox Users Love That No Other Browser Has 7 Extensions Firefox Users Love That No Other Browser Has Extensions aren't always supported across all browsers. Check out these beloved Firefox-only extensions that are so useful that you may be swayed over from whichever other browser you currently use. Read More .

Chromecast Support is a Deal-Breaker

chromecast-support

Perhaps the feature I missed the most is being able to cast tabs or your entire desktop to Chromecast 8 Creative Uses for Google's Chromecast 8 Creative Uses for Google's Chromecast We've come up with 8 unique uses for Google's Chromecast. Read on to find out just how you can make even more use of your Chromecast. Read More . The Chromecast extension for Chrome browser makes this possible, but you can’t do that with Firefox yet.

While Firefox on Android now supports Chromecast, the desktop version hasn’t got this feature or any other extension which lets me do that. Chromecast is awesome Google Chromecast Review and Giveaway Google Chromecast Review and Giveaway We're giving away a Google Chromecast, so read through our review, then join the competition to win! Read More , and by itself, this is reason enough to use the Chrome browser instead of Firefox, in my opinion.

Chrome vs. Firefox: No Real Winner

Firefox

If you take out the extensions, there is no real winner between these two browsers. In our definitive Chrome vs. Firefox comparison Browser Wars: Firefox vs. Chrome vs. Opera, The Definitive Benchmark Browser Wars: Firefox vs. Chrome vs. Opera, The Definitive Benchmark If you could only choose one browser, which one would it be? Which is best: Firefox, Chrome or Opera? We'll show you. Read More , we found there were things Firefox was better at (like customizability and text rendering) and things Chrome was better at (like speed and image rendering).

Overall, in the two weeks of using Firefox, I never felt like its performance was significantly better or worse than a fresh installation of Chrome.

That said, in terms of pure functionality, I loved how customizable the browser is, and extensions like Tab Mix Plus are sorely missed on Chrome. Firefox is a better browser for the power user who wants to tweak the Internet experience to the max.

But are those tweaking abilities enough to overlook the missing extensions and features? Nope.

On Mobile, Firefox Wins

Firefox-for-Android

As part of my Chrome quitting experience, I also made the switch from Chrome to Firefox on my Android smartphone. And you know what? I’m not going back.

Firefox on Android is better than Chrome for the exact reasons stated above: extensions, extensions, extensions. Chrome for Android does not allow third-party add-ons, unlike its desktop counterpart. However, Firefox welcomes them and ends up being a better browser in the process. Our list of unmissable Firefox add-ons for Android Unmissable Addons For Firefox On Your Android Device Unmissable Addons For Firefox On Your Android Device Firefox for Android has a trick up its sleeve: Add-ons. Just as Firefox offers a more powerful extension system than Chrome on the desktop, it beats Chrome for Android by supporting extensions. You can install... Read More is just a small collection and you should check out all the Firefox add-ons to discover several you might find useful.

Apart from extensions, Firefox also isn’t deeply integrated into Android. So while Chrome tabs on Lollipop will show up as individual panes/apps in your multi-tasking view, Firefox is a single pane with all the tabs in it. I honestly don’t want to see the 20 tabs I have open when I am multi-tasking on my Android, so I have no idea what Google is thinking here.

And finally, Firefox for Android supports Chromecast, so that last hurdle is conquered too.

Take the One Week Challenge!

We are naturally resistant to change, but don’t fear it. For just one week, I invite you to ditch your existing browser and try out the alternative, on both mobile and desktop. I ended up switching to Firefox on Android and realized Chrome is better for me on desktop.

Take the one-week challenge and tell me what you find out.

Image Credits: geralt (1) / Pixabay, geralt (2) / Pixabay

  1. Richard Newberry
    April 30, 2016 at 1:51 am

    I miss chromecast.. I will change back to chrome because of this PROBLEM..

  2. LimboSlam
    October 10, 2015 at 4:01 am

    There's becoming less reasons to use Firefox as they are becoming a FXChrome themselves. Here are the reasons:

    1.) They have move to a multi-process architecture resembling Chrome and a redesigned theme called Australis (curved tabs).

    2.) They are in progress of abandoning the XUL, XPCOM and XBL source code that our developers use to build their add-ons for one largely compatible with Chrome extensions, WebExtensions API.

    3.) Lastly, the removal of the NPAPI plugins which are used widely to view certain video/audio and gaming content everywhere. Such as Flash, Java, Silverlight, Unity Web Player, QuickTime Player, VLC Media Player, Foxit Reader and much more.

    Now, these aren’t necessarily bad changes, in fact they’re arguably big improvements. But Firefox seems to be abandoning it's big advantages and is becoming more and more of FXChrome. Thus the small differences between them.

    So, if your looking for an alternative browser based off Firefox/Gecko, I strongly recommend Pale Moon (an Open Source web browser forked off from the Firefox/Mozilla code). This browser is quite snappy and is more memory efficient because they don’t implement unnecessary features that are prone to vulnerabilities (Hello & IM, Pocket, Reader+, built-in PDF reader, Google Now, Share, Telegram and other WebRTC related code). And they will continue support for the XPCOM, XUL and XBL source code that our add-on devs use to build their powerful extensions that we all have come to love and rely on. Additionally, they won't be removing NPAPI and will continue to support it. This part right here is crucial for website owners, companies/factories, schools and government buildings that use this kind of technology in their work environment.

    To conclude, Firefox is not what it used to be and so their are alternatives such as Pale Moon to bring back familiar functionality or new and improved functionality. So If your interested in this browser, you can try it out here: https://www.palemoon.org/.

    • Mihir Patkar
      October 13, 2015 at 5:39 am

      I've used Pale Moon, I quite like it. Definitely agree about the speed improvements on it, it's noticeably faster.

      • LimboSlam
        October 13, 2015 at 11:27 pm

        Yes it is, It's sad Firefox doesn't live up to it's word anymore, well about it still being the "Speed King." I love Firefox and all the other browsers based or forked off of it, but recently It has proved me wrong; much crashes and is very bloated with unnecessary features that cause a big memory spike. Not only that, I feel like I have less control of where I search, how I search and what I download, namely add-ons from third-party sources that I trust; spied on.

        Though, this is just my personal experiences and opinion.

      • Peter Buyze
        October 15, 2015 at 10:35 am

        This what the PM organisation write on their Android page:

        "We do not have the resources or Android-specific expertise to keep pace with the rapid developments of the Android OS to provide a usable and suitable browser alternative on all common versions of that platform or the latest hardware".

        This is a serious issue & enough for me to avoid installing it.

    • Peter Buyze
      October 15, 2015 at 10:42 am

      I used to use the desktop version of PM. After 1.5 years I found it got more unstable, but maybe that was me. What won me over back to Chrome is that it gets security patches designed & installed quicker than any other browser. Furthermore, extension dev focus is increasingly on Chrome.
      Yes it's a memory hog but I use The Great Suspender to deal with that.

      • LimboSlam
        October 16, 2015 at 12:49 am

        Peter,

        Pale Moon for Android is maintain specifically for security updates, said Moonchild (developer of Pale Moon), though they really need a proper maintainer/developer to insure compatibility with the latest devices/hardware.

        You might also want to give Pale Moon (desktop version) another try again, a lot has changed since the days of riding Firefox's release cycle (rapid releases and was most unstable at times) and adding extra layers on top to keep the old look or functionality that was removed from Firefox (beginning of days where is stopped listening to it's users) because of the sake of it becoming a "stone age" browser; if it's not broken, then don't fix it.

        Basically, we have improved in stability and over all performance. It will get even better once our beta (a new layout and rendering engine called Goanna is being introduced) is stable enough for official release, though you can give the "Pre-Release" (it's quite stable I hear from other users on our forums) a try if you want.

        Well, if that's all your worry about, Pale Moon is good at that, just look at the release notes and you'll see that it was updated 2 days ago. Also if you have problem, feel free to get in contact with us through our forum where we're gladly to troubleshoot with you.

        LINKS: https://www.palemoon.org/releasenotes.shtml, https://forum.palemoon.org/, https://www.palemoon.org/WIP/.

  3. Maryon Jeane
    October 7, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    The answer, I've found personally, is that it's not easy to switch from one browser to another and, as Mihir argues, that's because of the add-ons (and customisation generally) with which you naturally enhance your browser.

    And you need to switch. Some sites just seem to ignore some browsers; every browser becomes bogged down with time, and some developers make weird changes and with an update the browser goes from good to horrible in one short step. New browsers appear and you want to try them out to see if they're faster, more useful, more 'you'.

    Because of all the above I don't do much customisation to any of my browsers, and keep add-ons to a minimum (Evernote Clearly is one I can't live without because I read a lot of long articles and don't want the distraction of everything else on the page). All the things add-ons do I find, like Likefun, programs etc. external to the browser to handle and I use launchers to get at them instantly.

    Lastly, I use different browsers for different tasks. I constantly use or return to K-Meleon because it's *fast*, and light, and no one hacks it because it has a small user base. For the rest, it seems to be a cycle between Firefox, Opera, Maxthon and various others which I try from time to time because I'm tempted into searching for 'the perfect browser' (hint: it doesn't exist...). But is it easy to switch? Yes - with the above system it is, and it has to be because I do it all the time.

    • Mihir Patkar
      October 8, 2015 at 6:07 am

      Lovely post as usual, Maryon. So glad you're around as the voice of sanity :)

      • Maryon Jeane
        October 8, 2015 at 12:49 pm

        Thank you, Mihir!

  4. likefun butnot
    October 7, 2015 at 2:53 am

    My problems with Desktop Chrome:

    Yes, it has addons. It doesn't have addons that do the things I *want*. It has tools to make Youtube look different? That's what Greasemonkey is for. I'd rather have the things that give me control over privacy and security. For that matter, I really like being able to download Youtube videos and save them for later viewing. Guess what kind of extension is utterly unavailable as a Chrome addon? I don't think Chrome's addon library is mature at this point and I won't until it can to the things that are currently possible with Firefox/Palemoon. Firefox's current (the one that's being dropped in favor of Chrome compatibility) addon ecosystem is basically the only place I see real innovation in browsing tools or UI improvement.

    Second, the process model megasucks if you like to leave tabs open. I like tabs. I have a full-time tab party all the time on every computer I use. 50 or 100 is entirely typical for me. If I browse like that on Chrome, I'm looking at probably 150 - 200 processes with a combined RAM utilization in excess of 8GB, but probably only about 2.5GB on Firefox/Palemoon.

    Third, not even an option to handle NSAPI plugins. I'm an IT guy. I deal with things that need me to run Java in a web browser. Java sucks, but a thing that sucks even more is not being able to look at the logs on my server's storage arrays because some dweeb at Google decided no one should ever use Java again.

    • Mihir Patkar
      October 7, 2015 at 7:39 am

      All valid points, no arguments. That's a separate "How easy is it for a Firefox user to switch to Chrome today" article.

    • Peter Buyze
      October 15, 2015 at 10:38 am

      Regarding the many open tabs: there is a very good extension for that called The Great Suspender. It works very well & I can recommend it.

  5. Peter Gadd
    October 7, 2015 at 2:08 am

    I moved from FireFox to Chrome a few years back for one reason mainly. Every time I wanted to reinstall my computer, installing the FireFox extensions (one by one) took ages. With Chrome, you just sign in to your Google account and all your extensions, settings, etc., are still there just as they were before reinstalling. I used FireFox for many years and loved the browser; it's just that I got too lazy with the extensions issue.

    • likefun butnot
      October 7, 2015 at 2:32 am

      There are tools - Mozbackup, for example - that make moving profiles a breeze for people who don't want to dig into their user profiles and find the relevant data. I actually use a program called Hekasoft Backup and Restore to copy common profiles (sans bookmarks) to other people's machines as I work on them, just to make sure that search and addons are the way I want them.

      Chrome's thing relies on Google's ecosystem, which in my observation relatively few people use and/or are aware exists.

    • Mihir Patkar
      October 7, 2015 at 7:35 am

      As LFBN pointed out, there are a lot of tools now to make backup and restore easier. That said, I get your issue. That simplicity is missing in FF.

    • Stefan Ivic
      October 7, 2015 at 12:47 pm

      They added the option called Firefox Sync that does the same thing. It sync's all your data, extensions, etc.

    • fcd76218
      October 7, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      You can use the FEBE extension to backup bookmarks, settings, extensions, etc.

      • A41202813GMAIL ..
        October 7, 2015 at 6:40 pm

        FEBE Is The Best FF Extension I Know, Hands Down.

        I Would Pay Dearly To Have FEBE For CHROME, Too.

        Sigh...

  6. A41202813GMAIL ..
    October 7, 2015 at 12:29 am

    I Use 5 Browsers, And A Huge Extensions Library Is A Must For Me.

    A - Any Browser, Which Develops Too Much Disregard For Backward Extensions Compatibility, Will Be Ditched As My Main Browser,

    B - I Ditched IE8, Because I Discovered Extensions With FF,

    C - I Ditched FF, Because FF4 Broke Rule ( A ),

    D - I Ditched CHROME, Because CHROME Axed Any Extension Not Included In Their Web Store ( Without Giving Power Users A Workaround ).

    OPERA15+ Is My Main Browser Now, Until, Not If But When, They Brake Rule ( A ), Too.

    Plenty Of CHROME Clones Out There Fortunately, And Most Extensions Are Compatible Among Them, Too.

    Cheers.

    • Mihir Patkar
      October 7, 2015 at 7:34 am

      I really should give Opera a try, a lot of Chrome users seem to love it because it's taking many of Chrome's best features and putting them in a new package. How long have you been using Opera now?

      • A41202813GMAIL ..
        October 7, 2015 at 6:58 pm

        Since Rule ( D ) - A Few Years Ago ? - I Lost Count.

        Use WIKIPEDIA And Research All CHROME Clones.

        I Use 3 Of Them, In This Order Of Importance - OPERA15+, CHROME And YANDEX.

        YANDEX Is A RUSSIAN Company Trying To Copy Everything GOOGLE Does.

        Their Own Free Services Include:

        Browser, Search Engine, Email, Cloud Storage - Just To Name Those I Use The Most.

        Cheers.

  7. fcd76218
    October 6, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    "At the end of the two weeks, I was itching to get back to Chrome on the desktop. "
    Really? Some time ago I tried Chrome for two weeks. At the end of that time I was itching to get back to Firefox because in no way did Chrome measure up to Firefox. Two weeks is hardly enough time to figure out what's where, let alone make a informed decision. That's like switching from Windows to Linux, or vice versa, for a two week trial and itching to get back to your original O/S.

    "But as of now, you miss out on far too many good extensions"
    Only if you are addicted to collecting extensions.

    There is one, big problem with Chrome, it is from Google. It is unknown how much and what kind of data Google collects through Chrome.

    • Mihir Patkar
      October 7, 2015 at 7:33 am

      I wrote the article when it was two weeks, I ended up sticking with FF for another week after that. I agree, 3 weeks may not seem like sufficient time, but the question is "How easy is it for someone to switch" and it's not easy, imo.

      Find me good new Firefox extensions being released as regularly as good new Chrome extensions and I'll concede the "addicted to collecting extensions" bit. Otherwise, this argument is as silly as those people who claim Android/iOS app store and Windows Phone app store is the same unless you're "addicted to collecting apps".

      On data collection, totally agreed. Privacy is a larger issue with Chrome than any other browser, imo. Hell, Facebook making a browser would be the only exception.

      • fcd76218
        October 7, 2015 at 1:36 pm

        "Find me good new Firefox extensions being released as regularly as good new Chrome extensions and I’ll concede the “addicted to collecting extensions” bit."
        The extension need not be "good" for people to download it. It merely has to purport to make some action more convenient, to save a keystroke or two. "Good" is a relative term. An extension that I would deem "good", you may not give a second look, and vice versa.

    • Kelsey Tidwell
      October 8, 2015 at 1:11 am

      Wait what?

      Mihir ditched Firefox after two or three weeks to go back to Chrome and it's a, "Really? Two weeks is hardly enough time to figure out what’s where, let alone make a informed decision."

      You ditched Chrome to go back to Firefox after two weeks and it's a wise decision.......

      • Mihir Patkar
        October 8, 2015 at 6:11 am

        I should add, btw, that I keep switching between Chrome and FF every few months. Have been doing that for years. I don't need to "learn what's where" in FF.

        @fcd FF moving towards accepting Chrome extensions, to me, is a clear sign of which browser the developers prefer making extensions for now.

        • fcd76218
          October 8, 2015 at 8:08 pm

          At one time the fear was that Microsoft will take over personal computing. It never happened for various reasons. Pretty soon Google will succeed where Microsoft failed.

  8. Alan Burnstine
    October 6, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    You can turn off the individual panes/apps in Chrome for Android in settings. Turn "Merge tabs and apps" off. However, that doesn't solve the extension issue, which is a big one.

    Do you have a solution for syncing bookmarks/memorized form data/recently opened tabs that Chrome does so well between Android and Desktop? I have tried a couple of times to make the switch back to Firefox, but like you I can't seem to make the switch on the desktop and like it, and I rely on bookmark synchronization too much to leave the google ecosystem.

    • Mihir Patkar
      October 7, 2015 at 7:28 am

      Sigh no, no way to sync that, that's one of my big issues too. I don't use bookmarks anymore, so that's easier, but totally feel your pain on memorized forms and recent tabs.

      • Alan Burnstine
        October 7, 2015 at 2:16 pm

        Ok, now you have me curious. What do you do instead of bookmarks? I could live without form filling if I didn't need to maintain two bookmark lists.

        I have mostly solved my main issue with Chrome mobile because my most important plugin is AdBlock Plus (sorry, but I do whitelist MakeUseOf and other sites that don't do intrusive ads). I solved it at home by building an ad blocking DNS server in a Raspberry Pi (http://jacobsalmela.com/block-millions-ads-network-wide-with-a-raspberry-pi-hole-2-0) and for mobile, by also isntallign OpenVPN so when I am out with my phone, I can route traffic through my home network usingthe same DNS server (at a slight cost in performance, but not too bad since I have 75MBS FiOS). Only issue is that I can't use the VPN from the WiFi at work, and the cellular coverage is so bad that my battery dies in 3 hours just on standby if I don't use the WiFi, so I keep trying Firefox mobile with Adblock Plus, but keep drifting back to Chrome again.

        • Mihir Patkar
          October 8, 2015 at 6:12 am

          Pocket! Have been using it for years.

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