Now for the downside. As Infoworld's Paul Venezia notes, it still lacks plug ins for Java and Shockwave. Technologizer's Harry McCracken also notes that Chrome is innovative and impressive, but woefully incomplete: It doesn't support RSS or even the Google Toolbar (hmm, shades of Microsoft there). The always list-happy PC World offers up seven reasons to love Chrome and seven reasons to hate it -- with the biggie being #5 on the hate list: by using Chrome, you're handing yet another slice of your privacy over to Google. And once they finally turn evil -- fahgeddaboutit.
Of course, Chrome is an early beta that will add plug ins and features over time. I'm sure the warts will also grow more obvious.
Some analysts are saying Chrome is the dagger that will strike Microsoft in the heart. (Though I'm pretty sure you need to kill vampires with a wooden stake.) I think they got the plot right but the characters wrong. If any one is going to get thrown under Google's Chrome wheels, it will be Firefox. Internet Explorer is still protected by Newton's Third Law of User Inertia: As long as it still works, most people will be unmotivated to change. It's why AOL is still around after all these years.
Those who seek alternatives like Firefox will naturally be attracted to the open source Chrome, which bears more than a fair resemblance to it. And Mozilla gets nearly all of its revenues from a search deal with Google. I can't imagine the G-men continuing to do that once Chrome comes out of beta (my prediction: 2012). After that, well, buh-bye Firefox, it's been nice knowin' ya.
Now: When they start selling 2-pound notebooks with just Chrome on them as an OS and everything in the cloud, that's when Microsoft needs to worry. I'd certainly line up to buy one. Wouldn't you?