Feeds

Google polishes its Microsoft browser

Chrome Frame – now with more unrequited IE love

Boost IT visibility and business value

Google has released an official beta version of Chrome Frame, the Internet Explorer plug-in that turns Microsoft's browser into a Google browser.

According to Google, the beta includes more than 200 bug fixes meant to improve security, stability, and performance, and to ensure that – whether Microsoft likes it or not – Chrome Frame squeezes Internet Explorer tighter than ever before.

The Chrome Frame plug-in first hit the web in September as a developer preview, when Mountain View was preparing to expand access to Google Wave, the new-age communication platform that relies heavily on fresh standards like HTML5 and requires rather speedy Javascript and DOM performance. Internet Explorer 8 or earlier versions of the Microsoft browser can't quite handle something like Google Wave, and Chrome Frame is Google's effort to solve this inconvenience.

"Unfortunately, Internet Explorer, still used by the majority of the Web's users, has not kept up with such fairly recent developments in Web technology," Wave founding father Lars Rasmussen and technical lead Adam Schuck said at the time.

"In the past, the Google Wave team has spent countless hours solely on improving the experience of running Google Wave in Internet Explorer. We could continue in this fashion, but using Google Chrome Frame instead lets us invest all that engineering time in more features for all our users, without leaving Internet Explorer users behind."

As you might expect, Microsoft was not happy. "With Internet Explorer 8, we made significant advancements and updates to make the browser safer for our customers," the company told us.

"Given the security issues with plug-ins in general and Google Chrome in particular, Google Chrome Frame running as a plug-in has doubled the attack area for malware and malicious scripts. This is not a risk we would recommend our friends and families take."

This was more FUD than anything else. But a few days later, Mozilla unloaded on Chrome Frame as well, making a few arguments that stood up to scrutiny. Mozilla vp of engineering Mike Shaver pointed out that Chrome Frame sidestepped security tools built into IE, while arguing that the plug-in would muddle the way users think about security in general. If you install Chrome Frame, the individual websites you visit decide when to launch it.

"The user’s understanding of the web’s security model and the behaviour of their browser is seriously hindered by delegating the choice of software to the developers of individual sites they visit," he said. "It is a problem that we have seen repeatedly with other stack-plugins like Flash, Silverlight and Java, and not one that I think we need to see replayed again under the banner of HTML5."

Mozilla boss Mitchell Baker took the argument even further. "If you end up at a website that makes use of the Chrome Frame, the treatment of your passwords, security settings, personalization all the other things one sets in a browser is suddenly unknown," she says. "Will sites you tag or bookmark while browsing with one rendering engine show up in the other? Because the various parts of the browser are no longer connected, actions that have one result in the browser you think you’re using won’t have the same result in the Chrome browser-within-a-browser."

With the new Chrome Frame beta, Google has responded to at least some of this criticism. If you're using Internet Explorer's private browsing mode and the browser switches to Chrome Frame, Google will turn on a similar setting. The new beta also dovetails with IE cache-clearing and cookie-blocking tools.

Meanwhile, the plug-in offers many of the core tools added to Chrome 5, the latest version of Google's browser. This includes HTML5 audio and video, the canvas tag, geolocation, and the web worker API for running background processes.

Outside of Google Wave, other Google services such as Orkut and YouTube have adopted Chrome Frame, as have third-party sites Meebo and WordPress. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Captain Kirk sets phaser to SLAUGHTER after trying new Facebook app
William Shatner less-than-impressed by Zuck's celebrity-only app
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.