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Google Chrome Frame

We had a flurry of excited developers this morning looking over the impact of Google’s announcement of Google Chrome Frame.

Introducing Google Chrome Frame

One of the issues that we and other developers have when building our sophisticated web applications, is that many larger organisations (like banks and some multi-national accounting firms) have a standard users desktop that includes Internet Explorer 6.

Internet Explorer 6 was released in 2001. It is relatively insecure, doesn’t adhere to standards, and was not designed for the sort of applications we’re building today. Even with these obvious faults and two subsequent version of Internet Explorer it is difficult to get large organisations to upgrade.

So we were pretty excited about Google developing Chrome Frame – a version of Chrome that is hosted inside Internet Explorer.

Today we’ve been testing if Google Frame is a valid way to get a richer browsing experience inside a locked down corporate environment.

We know that corporate IT shops want group policies to lockdown browser config options in the enterprise. IE is the only browser that supports group policies. Google Chrome Frame does seem to use the proxy settings in IE which can be set by group policy, but this is probably not enough.

Google initially thought that they’d get around this type of restriction in corporate environments by installing the full version of the Chrome browser in the users home folder. This was a mistake because IT administrators reacted with group policies blocking Chrome.

So even if this approach works in the short term, we suspect that big IT shops will block Google Chrome Frame because Google has not implemented group policies.

We believe Google should work with corporate IT not try to circumvent it.

We also found that Google Chrome Frame doesn’t use the IE plugins for things like Flash. So other components may need to be installed.

But this is certainly an interesting tactic in the Browser wars from Google and hopefully will help persuade corporate IT to look again at how they enable access to rich internet applications through their environment.

 

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3 comments

Anna Langella
23 September 2009 #

very nice idea. would be interested to hear how many downloads it gets. slightly strange to think someone would want to keep ie6, but be willing to install a plugin to avoid having to use ie6!

Paul Rushworth
24 September 2009 #

Anna,

In concept it is a very smart way of trying to solve the IE6 problem- there are many large corporates with critical Intranet sites that will only support IE6. It’s a common problem we hear about.

The problem is, Corporate IT don’t want two browsers, and to have to confuse users over which browser gets used where, so the way Google Frame works is a very smart solution to this problem.

That said, if Google and Mozilla want to be taken seriously by big IT, they need to be providing MSI installers & Group Policy ADMs.

(Yes, i know about Firefox Community Edition, it’s a start, but I believe the ADM and MSI needs to be provided by Mozilla or Google directly).

Craig Walker
24 September 2009 #

I blame Microsoft for the current IE6 problem – Microsoft have been great at aggressively keeping their operating system’s up-to-date and secure, yet do not do the same with Internet Explorer, even though the browser is one of the best exploit delivery systems around! I was particularly disappointed when Service Pack 3 for Windows XP did not include an upgrade to IE7 as default – it’s frustrating to think that the default browser on any new Windows XP install is still IE6! (Surely the dominance of IE6 in both corporates and government significantly stifles innovation??).

Google have delivered the obvious follow-up announcement to Google Chrome Frame: Google will require Chrome Frame in IE for Google Wave to work properly (http://googlewavedev.blogspot.com/2009/09/google-wave-in-internet-explorer.html).

I do find the following quote interesting:

In the past, the Google Wave team has spent countless hours solely on improving the experience of running Google Wave in Internet Explorer. We could continue in this fashion, but using Google Chrome Frame instead lets us invest all that engineering time in more features for all our users, without leaving Internet Explorer users behind.

That’s an interesting strategy, but it’s also a little disappointing. I was hoping that Google would build an HTML5 version of YouTube (one that used the HTML5 video tag as opposed to requiring the Flash plugin) so that we could ignite a debate around plugins in general. Now by requiring a plugin to use Google Wave as it was intended I’m not sure whether we’re going backwards or forwards, and I’m not sure how this helps HTML5 adoption in the long run. If we all need plugins why don’t we just all install Silverlight?

Craig

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