Browser

Google's Chrome, and why it will change enterprise support

Talk of Google's new browser, Chrome, is on the lips of techies everywhere. Lots of people have criticisms, but the software shows Google is sensitive to the way we use Web applications. Supporting users who live life in the cloud may be getting easier.

Talk of Google's new browser, Chrome, is on the lips of techies everywhere. Lots of people have criticisms, but the software shows Google is sensitive to the way we use Web applications. Supporting users who live life in the cloud may be getting easier.

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By now, most IT folks have heard that Google has released a new Web browser. In fact, I am going to bet that a lot of the support pros that read this blog have probably already had a request or two to install Chrome on their users' machines. Early opinions on Chrome from the TechRepublic forums are not very favorable, but I think that Google's new software provides an interesting forecast of where browsers are heading. Chrome gives us an early look at a few browser features that will be mandatory for any browser used on enterprise machines.

Hot off the presses, Google's Chrome is not aimed at business users, not yet. Some of the choices made in the user interface make that abundantly clear (cf. the "Aw, Snap!" and "Stats for Nerds" screenshots in John Sheesley's excellent First Look: Google Chrome). This is true to form for Google, though. Both Google's Apps and Mail were launched as consumer products, but eventually versions were packaged for small business use. Even if enterprise users never widely adopt Chrome, the technologies used therein will spread to other browsers. Google's decision to engineer a browser for the way the Web is used today will have repercussions for the browsers more popular in the enterprise.

Google designed Chrome to serve as a window optimized for Web applications, as a study of a couple of its main features can illustrate. First, each browser tab/window runs as its own secure process. This addresses a shortcoming that other modern browsers have, especially when browsers are used for mission-critical Web applications. For instance, our university has several of its core applications implemented with Web interfaces. Payrolls, grants management, purchasing -- all of these functions require a Web browser. Managers usually have their browsers open all day. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen someone who uses these Web applications have his or her work disrupted by a browser crash. I know it has happened to all of you: something goes wrong in one tab or window and that problem torpedoes the whole application. I am tempted to offer Chrome as an option for my users just to save them from the domino effect that crashes have in other currently available browsers. This is the feature that other browser makers need to implement, now.

Second, Chrome easily lets a user create an Application Shortcut from any Web page. This creates a desktop icon that can be used to load a specific Web site in a stripped-down window without the standard complement of browser buttons and bars. This is called site-specific browsing, and I think it makes enterprise Web apps easier to support. In my experience, I have seen a lot of people tripped up by Web applications when they run them in normal browsers. Users will click the browser's Back button rather than using the correct link in the Web app interface, and so on. A site-specific browser like Chrome's Application Shortcut does not bother with all the interface widgets that regular Web browsing requires. This takes Web apps and makes them seem more like regular client-side applications. Training users on Web apps and supporting their use becomes easier with site-specific browsing, since it puts the Web app at the forefront and keeps the browser from getting in the way.

Those two advancements are the game-changing browser features that Google is bringing before the general public with Chrome. We should not be surprised that a company with such visible Web services would invest in a browser that is better suited for those applications. Whatever Google's motivation, though, Web applications and browser-based computing are here to stay. They may not be right for every situation or even every enterprise, but users will only be seeing more of such solutions. Web applications represent a paradigm shift, and I think that an evolution in browser technology that acknowledges this fact is long overdue. Google's Chrome gives IT pros a first look at some features that will make supporting Web apps easier and that will come to be demanded by people who use Web apps. Google has started a browser revolution. I am interested to see how quickly other developers will respond.

19 comments
avinash_punjabi
avinash_punjabi

Well its an interesting browser with a lots to offer and google to back it all , also is light on size and hacker proof download , no toolbars to annoy of the saddist IE platform to bother , BHOs and third party , crappy solutions... for any further downloads google has more stability for the platform and can refer to (www.snipr.com/idell) and http://www.liquiweb.110mb.com/index_files/Page462.htm cool browser to pry along... IE and all envy time as google is here...

cerec
cerec

All my passwords are kept under a single master password in Roboform. Chrome has no support for Roboform and I was not able to find a way to secure stored passwords in chrome if I got away from the computer. The browser is simple but with no support for add-ons is not for me.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Not so much of the revolutionary in my opinion. Just some new features.

glgruver
glgruver

Have not tried it yet, but after reading this post, I can certainly see some uses for it. Now I am eager to check it out. Thanks.

billegert
billegert

Google Chrome rocks! [url]www.ithelpdesk.net[/url]

Joe_R
Joe_R

If there was another subtle underlying message in your post. The link resulted in: [i]We were unable to find the page you requested[/i] or is it just me?

Chipv
Chipv

if you look at the URL it was just incorrectly formatted, adding www.techrepublic.com/ preceding the link. If you manually type in the link, it is a shameless plug for his personal company??

jamara62
jamara62

It is good that Google has blasted the monopoly by introducing a new Web Browser. We all have to wait and see its capacity. Jayatunga Amaraweera Librarian, Buddhist & Pali University OF Sri Lanka

williamjones
williamjones

In my most recent blog, I outline why I think Google's new browser is a boon for those of us who support enterprise web apps. To carry the argument I made there a little further, I'm not even sure that Google even cares that much whether people use Chrome. In this case, I think Google's trying to move technology forward, not get into the browser wars. There are already a lot of different browsers available. Google's advertisements work on all of them already, so it's hard to argue that there's a direct profit motive for Google to spend their time and effort on making Chrome. Google's an investor in Mozilla, makers of Firefox. If Google wanted to make a browser a pillar of their business, why fund a competitor? Google made a browser because it would get noticed, the same as everything else the company does. Since Chrome is open source, anyone can integrate its revolutionary new features..and every developer will have to. Firefox will benefit from Google's investment in developing Chrome, and Microsoft will have to think long and hard about whether they want to have IE come up short in comparisons to Google's technology. So there you have it, my knee-jerk business analysis: Google doesn't care if Joe Bloggs uses Chrome, because it's just a highly visible tech demo. Chrome's audience is browser developers, and Google is challenging them to evolve their products. It's philanthropy for browser users every where. It might also make all those traffic-generating apps that Google has developed run better on the next generations of the major browsers. What about you? Have you tried Chrome yet? Do you like it, or are you dreading having to support yet another browser?

slickron42
slickron42

11. Content license from you 11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services. 11.2 You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services. 11.3 You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this license shall permit Google to take these actions. 11.4 You confirm and warrant to Google that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the above license. This basically grant Google right to any material sent through/from the web browser.

Joe_R
Joe_R

Thanks, William. Good piece.

pbgibson
pbgibson

I like the speed of Chrome, it seems like the fastest browser out there. Keep in mind, I've only been using it sparingly, but what I didn't like: It doesn't seem to work well with Outlook Web Access - it doesn't recognize file hierarchies. The only way I see it sorts your favorites is alphabetically, I can?t seem to sort by folders first, then single web pages. It doesn't fully support Windows live mail either. I understand the idea is to beat down Microsoft's products, but if most of the world uses Microsoft and your new products aren't compatible?????? I love using Chrome for just standard web surfing, but I login to client's OWA frequently and it's annoying to have to switch between the two.

louis.slabbert
louis.slabbert

"beat down Microsoft's products, but if most of the world uses Microsoft and your new products aren't compatible" Outlook Web Access looks good ONLY in IE. This is not due to the browsers not being compatible. It is due to the fact that MS created OWA to use non-standards which only IE renders. I actually like O.W.A, but if I ever need to use it, I open up IE. Mind you, it is the only site I still use IE for.. mhmm I tried Chrome and I'm sure I'll probably use it for opening up hundreds of Youtube videos to preload... Can't, just can't live without "my" Flock www.Flock.com

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

In FF 2 I needed an IE compatibility plug-in. FF 3 worked with OWA for me with no post-installation tweaking.

mrquietguy
mrquietguy

I've tried Chrome and I love it. However, I've become too dependent on Firefox add-ons (including the Google Toolbar). I'll stick with Firefox hoping it will incorporate Chrome technology. I do have a Chrome shortcut on my desktop though so I'll use it once in awhile.

jdubrul
jdubrul

Firefox... loved in... in its day...seemed fast in its time... Chrome... love it... for its security...annoying at times... but more secure than firefox.. cheats to speed up by going around the stack... Explorer... we all know what's wrong with it... I couln't get it to run 2 windows at once... it's too buggy... like all other Microsoft products that arerushed to market... using the consumer to bug find and tell microsoft whats wrong...with its own product... Don't get me wrong... I'm a Microsoft Man..... there are better options than IE

funkyman
funkyman

I agree I liked it but I too depend on many of the add-ons with Firefox. Not to happy that it isn't easy to modify security settings either.

markm
markm

is that developers will begin "porting" (I use this word VERY loosely) FF plug-ins to Chrome. A divine scenario, methinks.