Chrome extensions are proliferating, giving Google's free Web browser a real chance to challenge Firefox, Internet Explorer, and other browsers contending for space on your desktop. A case in point is CHAT, which adds pop-up instant-messaging capabilities to the Chrome interface via the free eBuddy Web and mobile messaging service.
We downloaded and installed CHAT in Chrome. The extension placed an icon on the toolbar that opened the pop-up eBuddy instant-messaging manager when we clicked it. This ad-laden dialog offered the opportunity to sign in to several chat networks: eBuddy iD, AIM, MSN, Google Talk, ICQ, Yahoo, Facebook, and MySpace. We created a free eBuddy account, which was quick and minimally intrusive. The eBuddy Web Manager appeared; this pop-up dialog manages accounts, themes, buddy lists, and other housekeeping. We clicked Google Talk, signed in, and quickly accessed our chats. Closing the page closed our session. When we re-opened Chrome and clicked Gtalk on the eBuddy menu, the program remembered our email address. In this way, we were able to register our instant messaging accounts with eBuddy, enabling us to quickly access each from the Chrome interface via the CHAT icon. Right-clicking this icon called up a brief menu that let us enable or disable CHAT, but the Options link was grayed out, since the eBuddy Web Manager handles all settings. Clicking CHAT on this menu opened the program's Google Chrome extensions page, which offered users' opinions and a link to the developer's Web site. This site was in Portuguese, but Chrome expertly translated it into English with a click of a button, although information on CHAT seemed to be lacking. Nevertheless, CHAT and eBuddy proved easy enough to use, and eBuddy offered plenty of help with getting started, too.
Free extensions are quickly bringing Chrome up to speed in the latest round of the browser wars. CHAT and eBuddy are right there at the front. If you use Chrome and like to chat, we think you'll like CHAT too.