Google’s Chrome browser is ready for the workplace, updated and enhanced so that IT folks can not only deploy it on office computers but can also starting testing those Web apps – just in case the company is thinking about switching to the Chrome OS platform when it goes live next year.

That’s the bigger message in an announcement today about enhancements to the Chrome browser. In a post on its Enterprise blog, the company wrote:

…Chrome offers controls that enable IT administrators to easily configure and deploy the browser on Windows, Mac, and Linux according to their business requirements. We’ve created an MSI installer that enables businesses who use standard deployment tools to install Chrome for all their managed users. We’ve also added support for managed group policy with a list of policies and a set of templates that allow administrators to easily customize browser settings to manage security and privacy.

The selling point: businesses can take advantage of “improved security and web application performance” without breaking the bank on other expensive software licenses or new hardware. Who could say no to something like that?

More importantly, though, Google seems to be trying to lure businesses into a Chrome environment before the big rollout of Chrome OS next year. At an event last week, the company showcased the OS and even started a pilot program to hand out free Chrome-powered notebooks so that real users – consumers, businesses, bloggers like me – to start putting Chrome OS through some early tests.

The jury is still out on whether Chrome OS – and the browser-only Chrome notebooks due out in mid-2011 – will gain any real traction against Microsoft’s Windows, Apple’s Mac OS X or Linux. But Google is being proactive about trying to get businesses to start thinking about alternative operating systems and Google’s take on Web-based applications.

Google suggests that companies interested in deploying these features will be ahead of the game – but the one that’s really ahead of the game here is Google, which hopes to get business customers interested in a technology that’s not even available yet.

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This is a guest post from Sam Diaz, Senior Editor at ZDNet, TechRepublic’s sister site. You can follow Sam on his ZDNet blog Between the Lines (or subscribe to the RSS feed).