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rwandering.net

The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

Thank you, Google! Chrome starts supporting WSR!

Some time ago I posted that I was abandoning Chrome until it supports Windows Speech Recognition (WSR). 

I did go back to Chrome after some time as I became more embroiled in the different Google Apps services, but I have always found it irritating that speech recognition wasn’t supported.

Every once in awhile I try it again and found today an important improvement.

WSR does work in GMail now, albeit just with the “dictation scratchpad”, but that is a big improvement.  It doesn’t quite work in Google Docs, but I’m hopeful they’ll get that working soon.

Thanks, Google!

BTW: I actually don’t know if this is Google’s doing or the result of a Windows patch . . . I hope it is the former, otherwise this is likely the end-state.

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Abandoning Chrome until it supports WSR

I use speech recognition a great deal – and I recently switched to Windows Speech Recognition on Vista.  And I’ve been using Chrome exclusively for Google Apps, because I think it offers superior performance for JavaScript apps.

Unfortunately, Chrome doesn’t support WSR.  According to Rob Chambers this would be easy for Google to do, and I suspect it is just an oversight on their part (both in terms of making their software more accessible as well as following Windows best practices).

Google:  when are you going to put the effort into this?  The Chrome 2.0 Beta doesn’t do it either.

Rob Chambers: how easy is this really?  You also said that Firefox does support WSR – maybe it does, but not in Google Docs.

So now, I’m using IE8.  Google Docs with WSR works great there.

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Google, what is a beta?

Now Chrome is out of beta.  Cool.

Question: what on earth are Google’s standards for the word beta anyway?

Possible answers:

  1. Non-existent
  2. Non-existent with a dash of whimsy
  3. Variable based on $$$$$
  4. (Fairly) fixed based on the users requirement to understand relative product completeness / bugginess

Before Chrome left beta I would have said #1 or #2.

Now it seems that Google can’t get Chrome adoption from OEMs while it is a beta.  Shazam, we’re out of beta.  So I guess its #3.

I sure wish it were #4.  The term beta is actually pretty useful. Google has never taken it seriously, and this is just further evidence.

I’m generally a fan of the Google products and I use many of them, but Google, can you grow up a little here?  Show some respect for the term beta — you’ll be respecting your users too.

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Some thoughts on Chrome

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Google releases a new browser.  The world declares “browser war” with some apprehension and  relish.  Web developers are cringing because browser compatibility is a major source of effort, cost, and frustration for software developers.

Q. Why would Google do this to us?  Just to take away Microsoft browser share? 

A. No.

Q. Are they doing this to extend the “Google OS” to the desktop in a way they control?

A. Probably, but that isn’t even their first concern.

Q. So, what is going on?

A. Well, I’m glad you asked.

Google is working to make their JavaScript-view of the Web as powerful as possible.  This makes sense given their enormous investments in JavaScript and in their own application suite.

Contrary to the approaches of Microsoft and Adobe with their Rich Internet Applications (RIA) frameworks, Google has focused on JavaScript. Where Microsoft and Adobe are building a better user experience inside of a container, Google is creating a better user experience through dynamic HTML and AJAX techniques.

Their developer model includes building out tooling to make it easier to author AJAX applications.  This includes the efforts made in the Google Web Toolkit (GWT) to enable modern IDE tooling for AJAX development. This allows developers to build maintainable object-oriented applications (in Java) that get converted and optimized to JavaScript.  Plus it promises cross-browser compatibility.

On the client side, they have Google Gears to enable local storage, improved caching support, and offline mode.

Q. So what have they been missing?  A browser? 

A. Not exactly.  They’ve been missing a JavaScript client runtime engine.

Google has made great advances in AJAX application development and tooling, but they have had to rely on others to provide reliability, responsiveness, performance, etc.

And that is what Chrome is about: taking control of the runtime engine for Google applications.  This makes the Google applications way more compelling.  More specifically, Chrome is about delivering that engine.  As Google says, they would love it if other browsers adopt the engine too.  I buy that.

Of course, by that time Chrome will be differentiated from its JavaScript engine.  By then Chrome will be about the Google OS.

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