Google yesterday started rolling out a redesigned new tab page for Chrome, making good on a promise from last month when it offered the revamp to users running rougher-edged versions of its browser.
Most users gave the new look a failing grade. "Fail, fail, fail," said Philip Wright, one of those who commented on the announcement.
Google characterized the addition as a way to speed up search.
"We're rolling out a feature that can make searching faster and simpler with a streamlined New Tab page," said the Chrome team on its Google+ page Tuesday. "If you use Google as your default search engine, the next time you open a new tab in Chrome the search bar will be front and center ... [and] you'll also be able to check out current Google Doodles."
The new tab page appears when users press Ctrl-T (Windows) or Command-T (OS X) in Chrome. All browsers offer a similar new tab page that, at a minimum, shows thumbnails of the user's most visited websites. The feature, which debuted on Opera, has been copied by all its rivals, including Chrome, Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox, and Apple's Safari.
Firefox was the last to acquire a graphical new tab page when in June 2012 Mozilla released Firefox 13.
Chrome's new tab page redesign sports a prominent Google search field as the only real difference between it and its predecessor. The page still displays eight thumbnails of the user's most-called-on sites.
But Chrome users just didn't get it.
"If you're on Chrome, why wouldn't you just use the omnibar?" asked commenter Neil Slater, using an alternate name for "omnibox," Google's label for the combined search-address bar at the top of the browser window. "To use this new search box it takes an extra mouse click to put the cursor into the box. The cursor's already by default in the omnibar on opening a new tab."
Many commenters dismissed the change as useless, with some asking how to revert to the previous design. Others were dismayed that Google moved the Chrome Apps button -- which calls up a display of the browser's installed Web apps -- to the bookmark bar.
Google has faced resistance from Chrome users before when it's proposed redesigns of the new tab page. In April, Google backtracked from a refreshed new tab page that had reduced the number of thumbnails from eight to four, inserted a large Google search box, shifted the Web apps view to a button, and dumped other features, including the ability to view recently closed tabs, from the page.
Most of those changes, however, were implemented in the final new tab page that began reaching users Tuesday. The most visible that did not was the four-thumbnail view.
Users who want to restore the previous design should type "chrome://flags" in the omnibox -- minus the quotation marks -- locate the "Enable Instant Extended API" setting in the long list, and change it from "Enable" to "Disable."
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.