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Google's Chrome Web browser: Why IT should care

Google is launching a Web browser dubbed Chrome in a move that's garnering a lot of attention--because it conveniently fits with the Microsoft vs. Google plotline--but how much should businesses pay attention to this move?
This is a guest post from Larry Dignan. You can read the original article on Larry's blog Between the Lines on TechRepublic's sister site ZDNet.

Google is launching a Web browser dubbed Chrome in a move that's garnering a lot of attention--because it conveniently fits with the Microsoft vs. Google plotline--but how much should businesses pay attention to this move?

First a quick recap (Techmeme), Google will launch the Chrome browser and it has some interesting bells and whistles, security features and raises questions about its role vs. IE and Firefox. As Nick Carr notes the big picture is that Google is adding a browser to upgrade capabilities across the board to make it more cloud friendly. Carr reckons that the applications are the message.

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Dennis Howlett adds that no CXO (any C-level exec) is going to give Chrome all that much thought since it's a beta and it's unclear how Google's browser fits in the enterprise. However, CXO types may want to pay a little more attention than Dennis' recommended nano-second. Why? You'll wind up supporting Chrome (probably indirectly)--along with all those other Google apps the search giant is sneaking into your enterprise. The upshot: CXOs may actually have to read a comic book about Chrome after a long weekend.

There has been a lot of talk on the Enterprise Irregular list and the consensus seems to be that Google will make a splash for two months or so and then developers will see what the catch is with Chrome. From there we'll find out if Google's Chrome browser is worth much.

In sum, the tech executive playbook is to hang back, download the browser, take it for a spin and monitor closely. After all, your employees will download Chrome and it's just a matter of time before it gets attacked just like IE and Mozilla does daily. What will Google's patching system look like? The Techmeme crowd hasn't pondered that point yet. Bottom line you can't afford to NOT pay attention to Chrome even if it's insignificant to your business because it's likely to be a security risk.

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However, there is a bigger question here. How much do you want to rely on Google for your business? For smaller businesses, Google Apps and its collection of software in the cloud may be a no-brainer. As companies grow though the Google equation gets murkier. CapGemini sums up the view of Google you need to ponder.

In a post CapGemini writes:

Everyone has a rather strong opinion on the monopoly Microsoft has/ had on the desktop. Microsoft is/ was evil since it pushes Windows media player via windows, since it pushes Internet Explorer via Windows, leaving the desktop user no other chance than using these functionalities. Same goes for Microsoft’s Office suite, which doesn’t support ODF natively (it does since July 2007 via an add-in) and saves documents default in the proprietary .doc format.

Well that said, Microsoft may not be on the good guys side, however is there a good guys side at all? Fan boys now would jump on their chairs and would chant “Google, Google, Google!” however is Google really not evil as they stated? Google is evil, Google has a hidden agenda and that is not strange....

Fact is that Google already hosts your email, calendar, RSS reader, web history, documents, photos, blogs and much more free functionality. It is quite clear Google knows what you are doing since you do it with their applications. It is always questionable if you should want to outsource that many of your applications to one provider. However Google stated that it is not evil and therefore you should not mind it.

The point: Google is tying browsing, your personal history, your apps and your data together. And Google will couple these parts with Android, which is likely to link your PC and phone together. Is this playbook all that different than what Microsoft's? Simply put, maybe everyone is evil.

Your business is increasingly being to cast its lot with one provider whether it be Microsoft, Oracle, SAP or someone else. You can add Google to that mix in the future. It's all in the name of standardization and having one throat to choke. Sounds great, but portfolio management dictates that you want to be wary. And once you add up this healthy skepticism about Google's business objectives you find it has a distinct disadvantage. Google is the devil you don't know. Microsoft and your other app providers are known commodities. Bottom line: Technology execs shouldn't get carried away with the Chrome chatter, but do pay attention. Google is still in the process of revealing itself and that's valuable information going forward.

3 comments
ernestm
ernestm

My team runs a large tech manufacturing company's Web site, and within one day of Chrome's release we were getting as many Chrome hits as Safari or Opera. I can only imagine it will go up from there. In the end, you care about a browser because it's what your customers are using.

bigpicture
bigpicture

Google is not out to sell you software licenses that cost big bucks and severely restrict what you can do with the software. Most of Google software is open source, meaning that you can examine the code and modify it to suit your own particular needs. You don't have to be concerned by what is the difference between "per seat" and "per user" licenses etc. etc. Also most of Google software is not platform specific, and it attempts to comply with accepted industry standards. Now on the other hand there is a company with a history of anti- trust losses, and threats of more to come in China, Poland, and India. Then there are 6 countries threatening to withdraw from participation in the ISO standards body, because of this said companies, attempts to hi-jack standards. This same company has in the past attempted to be the de facto standard in areas critical to the IT industry, and not share the internal workings of those standards with the rest of the IT community. Secret internal workings that made their programs run better than the competitions. "Windows is not done until Lotus won't run"

stephenmj
stephenmj

In the beginning there was Google. Humanity looked upon it and saw that it was good. Evening passed and morning came, and then there was GMail. My far fetched similarities to Genesis have no pun intended. And soon all of that was good too, and out came Google Gears and Docs and Apps and what not. Google Desktop... Who wanted to be stuck with the boring Windows desktop, right? On a typical search, you'd have time to take a tea break, come back, and still see Rover sniffing away what's left of the sidebar. Of course, many regulars did not and still don't know about the Windows' Indexing Search. Alright, so Google Desktop wasn't anything "new" but it did revolutionize widgets and gadgets. I think Apple and Windows got to quit bitching about who stole what from whom. 5 bucks where they got the idea for Widgets from! Anyway, Id rather not veer off into that territory. Come 2008 and we saw Android - that led few to think Google took a step into bionics. Heck no! That was the perfect answer to open source platforms for mobile devices. By the way, if your cell-phone can send MMS... or for that matter if you still call it a "cell-phone", the world has moved past those antiques. Around the same time there were speculations of a Unix-based "Google OS" shipping out. With the Pandora's box these Googlians have, why leave room for doubt? Finally the latest plunge, from Google, into doing something different. Google Chrome - the open source based browser. Tadaa. "Er, but... excuse me. Different? It's just a browser. We've had browsers since the 1980s". Dead right about that. NCSA Mosaic - the first browser that revolutionized the digital age. It gave the medium that spawned a generation of surfers, bloggers, reviewers, or just good 'ol porn-watchers. So I thought Id look into what's the big hype in Chrome. Well quite a few, and some of them impressive. Tabs - "You got to be kidding me right? Tabs?! Every browser now has one of those." For the IT challenged folks, skip to the next topic (the rest of this sentence will be greek to you). ?r? m?x??g ???? w??h m?l??-?hr?????g. Aaah! Now there's the difference. Each tab runs as a separate process, which means that one tab crash cannot kill the browser. And that also means you cannot have defragmented memory again from deallocated memory pointers. And that also means that one corrupted JS cannot hang the entire browser. Why is my porn taking too long to download?! &$%@#* Javascripting - "Yawn, thing of the 90s. And besides, Firefox 3's faster javascript loading is what made the others eat dust". So what could these folks do? Well they re-wrote what Java Virtual Machine (JVM) should do!! IT-challenged folks, you know what to do -> next line! ... JVM first came out to support applets and they were intended to be small. Applications developed today are akin to making an elephant ride a tricycle. So what did these folks do? They made a super-sized tricycle! Chrome bot - Well this is like the Good News Bible to developers. Which came first - the problem or the solution? Sandboxing - The terms these folks come up with...lol...I'm loving it. Malware, Adware, Spyware... like a moth to a lamp, surrounded with an electric mesh! Omnibox - "C'mon. You know Firefox 3 did that with their Smartbar". True, but that did'nt have the power of Google in it! Which means one search bar less on the browser... wohooo... more desktop real estate. No title bar - "Who needed that annoying space waster anyway? We know we're using Chrome!" Beta version - All of this and much more and they're still in Beta. Well GMail has been in Beta since they started. They still bloody are! One of those jokes I guess only Googlians understand. Now let's not take away the credit from the others. IE-8 is being named the most "cleaned up" browser Microsoft came out with. Their so-called "private-mode" browsing, which bloggers were in no hurry to dub "porn-mode" ... yeah that cracked me up. And Firefox 3? Did you see the hype behind it's launch?! They set a Guinness Book world record for the maximum number of downloads in a single day. Well me, just like 7 million other "I-downloaded-it-on-the-first-day"s could not disagree. Websites loaded in a flash. That brought in a Wow Effect - no pun intended to Microsoft. So leaving it to the brains of the readers (IT challenged, please join now) the final question is not about how long it takes for Chrome to wash down IE's 56% market share of browsers. The real question is, "What's the next browser going to give me?"