Google Patches Problems in Internet Explorer Because Microsoft Won't

Still using Internet Explorer 6,7, or 8 and cannot or do not want to upgrade? Google now has a solution for that: Chrome Frame.

I'm noticing a pattern here. First Google releases Chrome, a lightweight speedy web browser, in September 2008. Next, they announce that a lightweight, speedy operating system called Chrome OS to be released later in the year, designed for netbooks and small laptop computers and centered around using web applications over the internet rather than traditional desktop software. Then, they announce and introduce SVGWeb, a web technology that aims to consistently handle SVG graphics across all web browsers.  Yesterday, in perhaps the biggest slap in the face to Microsoft yet, Google announces and releases Chrome Frame, which amounts to a plug-in for Internet Explorer 6,7, and even 8 that can utilize Chrome's underlying engine to view web pages.

However, this is a new release that is considered beta. In addition, for the Chrome Frame plug-in to actually kick in, the user must have Chrome Frame installed AND the page must contain an HTML tag: <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="chrome=1">. This has to be inserted by the web page's developer. But mark my words, future, more stable versions of Chrome Frame will probably have the option to work automatically for all pages, or have a configurable web site list that decides whether or not to use it.

The reason they're doing this goes beyond simply attempting to solve the current problems with IE 6 and 7. I believe they're convinced that Microsoft will intentionally lag behind or flat-out not support new web technologies. Keep in mind that the IE8, the most recent version of Internet Explorer, still has virtually NO support (seriously, click that link to compare browser features) for HTML5 and CSS3.

The more advanced and accessible web technologies become, the more time (and money) users will spend over and on the internet. More widely-compatible and feature-rich applications on the internet means less emphasis on the desktop operating system. And that means less people being locked down by Windows.

And of course, these consequences would make the yet-to-be-released Chrome OS, a completely free product, that much more desirable. Google definitely can't argue with that.

UPDATE:

I just installed Chrome Frame on IE 7, though I might remove it later because still have to test with regular internet explorer, and it took about 1 minute 30 seconds -- which includes the downloading of components (probably about 10 MB).

My first test was to run the Acid3 test. This is what you see in normal IE7 mode (complete garbage):

And after prepending cf: in the URL bar, forcing it to use Chrome Frame:

A perfect score! Also have fun trying other websites with cf: like cf:http://webkit.org/blog/138/css-animation/

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7 COMMENTS

posted by Alex Fierro on: Sep 23, 2009 04:11pm

FIRST

posted by Matt Pellerin on: Sep 23, 2009 05:05pm

While I'd love to see MS go down... I'm beginning to worry about the sheer power of Google. It's reminiscent of a "Pinky and the Brain" show. Control the information and you can control the world.

posted by Max on: Sep 23, 2009 05:05pm

I wonder how successful this will be. I think Google should user their Analytics JS to detect browser and if web developer inserted the meta tag, then it should give a message or prompt IE user to install Chrome Frame plugin. I think this would dramatically expedite the process of updated IE browsers. Otherwise it will be useless... there are still over 20% of users using IE6... if they can't upgrade to newer version, how do you make them to install the plugin? I think Google should take advantage of their analytics js as I mentioned above, and be a little bit more persuasive.

posted by Michael Butler on: Sep 23, 2009 07:15pm

No matter what Google's intentions are for this, by advocating web standards specified by W3C (international group of 354 members who developed HTML, XML, and CSS guidelines) this can only benefit users. At the very least they're giving IE users the option to take advantage of the latest (sometimes 5-year-old) technologies and do more on the web. This doesn't affect Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or Opera users at all.

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