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Review: Google’s Chrome To Disrupt the Browser Market, But Will It Disrupt the Enterprise Desktop?

Estimated reading time: 4 mins

In Google’s usual style, there was a bit of a fanfare yesterday (September 2 2008) for the launch of their new ‘killer’ browser, Chrome. Google’s brand and penetration will make it an overnight success and I am confident that it will displace Internet Explorer (further) and Firefox (less so) in the consumer PC market. But will it do so in the Enterprise?

I downloaded Chromelast night (it is still in Beta, by the way, but Google’s Beta’s last AGES) – I expected a long wait due to high demand – but in fact it finished before I could blink. So well done Google on assuring the infrastructure. I then installed it – no fuss – except for a warning that if I didn’t shut down Firefox it couldn’t import my favorites and passwords at that time. Fair enough, so I shut down Firefox. It also asked me if I wanted to keep my existing search instead of forcing Google – this was a surprise and a pleasant one. In a few seconds later, I was hitting my favorite sites!

Google ChromeStart-to-finish, I was running in less than two minutes. Wow! And it works great. I surfed as I normally would and found no problems, other than some odd behavior in text boxes whilst I was writing. Text seemed to ‘dispappear’ from view, although it wasn’t actually removed. This maybe a problem for me if it persists.

First impressions – it looks clean, more screen ‘real-estate’ is dedicated to the content of pages rather than the top 1/3 being hijacked as IE or Firefox does. Nice. The tab structure at the top is similar to Firefox but seems neater. Each tab is a separate browser container, so stability should be maintained even if one tab freezes. This is a good excellent improvement on it’s competitors. I also like the default page which provides thumbnails of your recently visited sites, so you can go back to them very easily. One great feature (others are bound to copy) is that the address bar also works as a search bar – so you only need to enter text into one place. It’s all readily at hand. Oh and pages load very quickly too.

  • Chrome is clean, simple, very usable and fast.
  • Great design
  • Robust software
  • It offers search inside address bar – the ‘Omnibox’
  • ‘Incognito’ surfing mode for privacy protection
  • Tabbed browsing
  • Great for home and for business…

But wait – will it be as successful in business?

I don’t think so, in the short-term. Here’s why I think that.

One of the key differences between web applications that are built for public use, and those that are built for internal use, is that public applications are designed to support a wide variety of browsers, browser capabilities, browser configurations (e.g. privacy settings, screen size, color depth) and add-on functions. In internal environments, it is generally assumed that the organization has control of the desktop and browser, and therefore the variance of standards and configuration is low. So to that end, organizations can, and do, build their internal web apps that are less sensitive to variance, and depend on a specific configuration.

So the implications of this ‘hardening’ on an organization’s choice of browser and configuration is that for most organizations, the cost (in terms of time, effort and disruption) is high. It won’t happen overnight, if at all. The gap in benefits of Chrome, or other new browsers, in reference to a current choice have to be extremely high. These benefits might be time-to-market on build/test/deploy, and could also be security related if there are vulnerabilities in a current choice which cannot be easily overcome.

Microsoft have Internet Explorer 8 in the wings, which by all accounts is supposed to be a big improvement on predecessors, bringing in new security and privacy measures. Most organizations use IE, so this is what they will stay with unless the gap like a described is considerable. Microsoft also have long-established enterprise support structures for corporate clients, and they have an enviable certification programme for technical professionals. IE has extensive support for policies and centralized support and deployment. IE is suited to the corporate environment in many more levels that just a technology choice. So as a leader and professional in IT, I would still stick with IE for my corporate desktop, despite my new found fondness of Chrome at home. This is a similar story to my choice of desktop at home, too (Vista)

The longer-term view (5+ years) could be very different. This largely depends on Google’s approach to the Enterprise and how successful it is, which could be off the back of their push for taking control of desktop apps, currently aimed predominantly at SMEs now, but would have to capture Enterprises.

The space is exciting, and I find it intriguing. How about you?

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About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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