As a developer, I tend to enjoy tinkering with the newest and shiniest of toys. Pretty pretty shiny shiny. Anyway, it turns out sometimes the newest and shiniest isn’t always so shiny and in fact is sometimes actually broken. Yes, I know that may come as a surprise to most of you, but indeed it is true. This actually happened to my Google Chrome recently on the dev channel with some broken page layout issues whenever I use page zoom, which these days is pretty much permanent. Wanting to keep Chrome as the default browser for several reasons, I decided I didn’t wanna be on the dev channel anymore. I reported the layout bug and set about finding my way back to the stable channel.
The way to do this properly wasn’t really apparent from any Google searches I found – admittedly a very brief search, so I just decided to download the stable version of Chrome to see what happened. Worked, except I got this semi-cryptic error message:
Your profile can not be used because it is from a newer version of Google Chrome. Some features may be unavailable. Please specify a different profile directory or use a newer version of Chrome.
Yeah so how do you do that? Turns out it’s easily solved as discovered by searching on the error message text as I discovered on the Google Chrome Product Forum. Deleting the old profile works well enough if you are logged in to Google Chrome or don’t mind clobbering all your preferences and settings. The profile folder is found thusly:
- Windows: %UserProfile%\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default
- Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/Default/
- Linux: ~/.config/google-chrome/Default
Quit Chrome, delete the folder, launch your newly-installed stable version, log back in to Chrome, and you’re good to go.
- Sign in to Chrome and make sure the preference to synchronize everything is turned on
- Download and install stable channel of Chrome
- Quit any running instances of Chrome
- Delete your profile folder
- Install and launch your stable version of Chrome
- Log back in to Chrome to get your settings back
When Can I Use has posted a nice browser usage table, which includes mobile browsers and a breakdown by browser version. Compared with the browser market share analysis at Wikipedia, the numbers do line up quite well for the major categories, although there are some interesting discrepancies when you get down into the weeds.
I love looking at statistics and seeing what jumps out at you. What I see from these numbers today, here in September of 2011, is this:
- IE is only 39% of browser market share now. Remember ten years ago? Yeah, times have changed.
- Chrome is doing quite well. It’s going to overtake Firefox at this rate. 21% – that’s amazing.
- Going by the When Can I Use analysis, if you combine Chrome, Safari, iOS, and Android, you have about 29% market share for WebKit browsers.
- If these trends continue, and I see every indication that they will, Google Chrome will become the dominant browser platform sometime in the first half of 2012.
Fascinating. I’m going to need to make more popcorn.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to download WebKit nightly builds to tinker with emerging features (and who isn’t?), then you’ll be interested to try out MathML support which is now turned on by default.
MathML is supported server-side in several wiki platforms I regularly deal with (such as Confluence and MediaWiki), and it has always been an important requirement for support from my colleagues in the science community who do any kind of math research (but second place to LaTeX). This is the first time I’ve seen it supported in a major browser platform though. The mathematics community will be very interested in this sort of thing, and I expect at some point in the future we’ll just be embedding MathML into markup and publishing it rather than having to rely on a server-side library to parse it. Yea! I know it sounds more geeky than usual, but this is pretty cool in my book – especially from an applications perspective.
The only thing more geeky about downloading WebKit nightly builds is getting excited over new XML functionality. Also slightly related: both SVG and HTML5 canvas will be supported in IE9, making it doable in all modern browsers when that finally gets released and older versions become rarely used. It will become an increasing trend to represent data in these formats, natively in markup, rather than relying on 3rd party server-side libraries or plugins. Standards eventually win, usually…
IE continues it’s downward spiral as the browser dips below 69% at the expense of Firefox and the WebKit-powered duo of Apple Safari and Google Chrome. The breakdown as paraphrased by TG Daily:
Net Applications released updated global browser market share numbers today, indicating that IE is losing users at an accelerated pace. The browser’s share dropped from 69.77% in November to 68.15% in December. Most rivals were able to pick up a portion of what IE surrendered. Firefox gained more than half a point and ended up at 21.34%, Safari approaches the next big hurdle with 7.93% and Chrome came in at 1.04%, the first time Google was able to cross the 1% mark. Opera remained stable 0.71%, but it is clear that the Norwegian browser cannot attract any users IE loses.
This is no surprise. Taking into account the seasonal fluctuation towards home users in December which point to higher “non-corporate” platforms and browsers, this is still a landmark statistic and shows that if the gradual decline continues, 60% and 50% are not that far off in the future. As the trend for Firefox and WebKit to rise at the expense of IE has been continuing for some time now. What surprises me are a couple of things though, specifically:
- The rate at which IE is losing overall market share: While I predicted a decline in market share over the long term, I didn’t think I’d ever see it declining at the rate it is currently declining on a month to month average. It just seems steep to me.
- Opera adoption: I thought that more people would pick up Opera – at least I thought they’d have 2 or 3 percent by now. They are by far the most deployed browser on the mobile web, but nobody knows it really because they could care less what browser is being activated from their baked-up phone UI, and it’s unlikely that they use it much (which is the fault of the phone vendors – Opera Mobile by itself is great.) I like Opera. It’s not my default browsaer, but I find myself using it from time to time for certain things. Certainly for print and presentations, and also it’s handy mobile web dev in Small Screen mode.
I wonder how much of those Safari numbers are being driven from iPhone and iPod Touch users? What is also interesting in these metrics is the inclusion of Google’s Chrome browser, which again is based on the WebKit core that Safari is founded upon. Chrome broke 1%, and at the same time they have begun recommending against IE and in favor of Firefox and Chrome for Google Gmail users. This is an interesting coup attempt to grab their Gmail base still floundering on IE6, and it is even more noteworthy that IE7 was not mentioned as an alternative. I am betting Chrome will be a major contender a year from now, and the overall WebKit market share might even approach Firefox’s levels. What is probably safe to predict is that IE will continue to lose out to Firefox and WebKit-based browsers and I would not be surprised at this point if the rate of increase in adoption of alternative browsers began to accelerate in 2009 towards these platforms.
It is nice to see strong lines of diversity returning to the browser market. The benefit will be for better browsers and stronger support overall for web standards.