Google Chrome on Windows 7

Google Chrome is the Notepad of browsers.  It lacks even the most basic features available on all other modern browsers.  There’s no support for RSS, bookmark and history features are rudimentary at best, and there are very few options to configure.  There is no way of managing third party add-ins.  It’s not even possible to disable JavaScript.

But sometimes, simplicity is exactly what you want.  There’s no denying that Google Chrome is beautiful, and it’s fast, too.  It’s full of nice touches, like the ability to drag tabs into new windows and a status bar that gets out of your way when it’s not needed.  All style, little substance, and great attention to detail: if only it were grossly overpriced, I’d swear it was an Apple product.

I really don’t recommend Chrome for most people: there are just too many problems and shortcomings.  It feels like a proof of concept, not an finished product.  Overall market share would seem to agree with me.  But for those who have been won over by Google’s elegant design, or for those who like to run a variety of browsers, you’re going to get a nasty little surprise when you try Chrome on Windows 7:

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The Program Compatibility Assistant does a very good job of warning users when there is a problem.  When is says “This program has known compatibility issues”, it’s a good idea to listen.  Sometimes the problems are minor and easily ignored.  Sometimes the problems will destroy your system.  But the problems are always there.

In this case, nothing will break your system.  But Chrome won’t work.  Instead, it displays a snarky “Aw, Snap!” error message when you try to browse to a site and notes that “Something went wrong while displaying this webpage.”  If you massage it a bit, you can get other types of errors and crashes, but it still won’t work.

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Now, I know Google likes simplicity, but when things go sour, simplicity is a horrible idea.  Not only does Google Chrome fuck up, but it doesn't even have the courtesy to explain what happened.  If you loan a friend your car for the weekend, you want him to take care of all the little details for you.  You don’t need to hear about exactly what routes he drove, where he bought gas, and so on.  But if he returns your car as a mangled heap of steel and blood, you damn well want a bit more of an explanation than “Something went wrong” and a cutesy sad face.

I have plenty more I could rant about, but perhaps for now I’ll just shut the hell up and tell you how to fix this.  It’s simple, really: you just have to run chrome.exe like this:

chrome.exe -in-process-plugins

Note that the only space is before the first hyphen; this is one argument, not three.  I’m assuming this argument tells Chrome to run plug-ins – such as Adobe Flash – in the same process as the browser.  This is not a great design as far as security is concerned, so hopefully Google will fix this soon.

This helps on the command line, but to actually make Chrome work when you start it normally, you’ll have to change the properties of its shortcut.  Right click on the Google Chrome link on your desktop or Start menu and click Properties.  For the taskbar shortcut, right-clicking opens a jump list; just right-click on the Google Chrome link in that jump list to find your Properties option.  Then, add “ -in-process-plugins” to the end of the text in the Target textbox.  You’ll have to do this for each shortcut.

When you run Chrome, you’ll still get the compatibility warning.  In fact, you’ll get the warning each time you open a new tab in Chrome.  To get rid of this warning, just check the “Don’t show this message again” checkbox and click “Run Program”.

If you want Chrome to work as your default browser, you have even more work to do.  It looks like some people have had limited success by following the instructions at http://www.sevenforums.com/software/930-chrome-chromium-windows-7-64bit.html, but not without problems.  Also, Google Chrome installs on a per-user basis, and this is a per-machine fix, so if you use multiple profiles, things will get messy.  Really, I strongly recommend against using Chrome as your default browser.

You might also have trouble getting Flash to work.  If so, browse to http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/ and follow the instructions there.  The installation is a bit wonky; you may have better luck you if save the Flash setup file, close Chrome, and then run the setup file you just downloaded.

Or, you could ignore all this bullshit and just click Internet Explorer.

11 comments:

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  2. I've had not one problem since installing Chrome on my Windows Seven installation a few months ago. Even when I transitioned from Build 7000, the beta build, to Build 7100, Windows 7 RC1, I've had no crashes and no problems installing Chrome.

    Perhaps it's just tough luck on your part.

    ReplyDelete
  3. tills13: It's only a problem under the 64-bit version of Windows 7. Perhaps you're running the 32-bit version?

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  4. What exactly is tough luck?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think your review is a little harsh google chrome is great especially on windows 7! there are some issues, but the more people that use chrome the faster google can fix these issues. the google search you can do in the address bar and the way it guessing what your searching for is amazing! most of the new features the microsoft browser now has were available on google chrome 1st (eg tabs), just like many of the good features on vista/7 could be found on macs. Its good that microsoft incorporate other companies ideas into their own products to make them as good as possible. Most people iv showed google chrome now use it as their main browser, and on the small percentage of sites that have issues with chrome,use internet explorer. Internet explorer just seems a bit boring, chrome and firefox are the way forward!

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  7. Haha. I just found this post on google. It gives me lawls cuz this is old and right now google chrome is one of the best/fastest. Plus the comment that most people shouldn't use chrome because of its simplicity is like a Pre K teachers telling her students to use TI 83 calculators because the normal blue calculators are too simple. Tsk tsk tsk.

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