Painting Flames On The Side

Black Smoke And Flowers

A few days ago Google released a plugin for IE6, the Chrome Frame, that pretty much makes IE6 act kind of like a peppy modern browser. Microsoft got all shirty on the topic, claiming somewhat laughably that Chrome Frame made IE6 less secure, but IE6 is still the kick-me sign taped to the back of the internet and as has become typical Microsoft is getting caught with their head down on the play.

Now, like all right thinking people I don’t use Internet Explorer at all, much less the drifting, hole-filled relic that is IE6; nobody who has any say in the matter does. But I see a pretty shocking number of people missing the intuitive next step, that Chrome Frame isn’t targeted at users who have any say in the matter.

Google’s been selling their internal Search Appliances for years, and more recently started pushing the Google Apps towards business users, so it’s not much of a stretch to guess that Google will start selling Apps boxes soon, so that you can run them behind a firewall: GMail, the Apps, all of it.

And you can bet that the integration with Android handsets will be fantastic. Chrome Frame is just a part of a full-court press into the enterprise environment, and has nothing to do with web standards or user choice. Any user with any say in the matter is already using something else, and thinking about it in those terms is a mistake. It’s all about making it feasible, in cost and performance terms, to install a Google Apps appliance in large corporations.

So let me call the play as follows: this will probably be the beginning of the end for Microsoft’s long-stagnant control of that space. Windows Mobile 7 will ship late and be bad, cheap computers will keep getting better and it’s a short, very cheap step from a Google App Server to lightweight desktop clients running Android. This will have the added benefit of largely killing Android’s major corporate competition in RIM, BES integration being the only worthwhile thing about their increasingly crappy devices.

I could be making all that up, of course, but I know a couple of guys who know a couple of guys, and I get the sense from some people in that chain that all of this is not only well underway, but has quite a bit of mass and momentum behind it.


  1. Mike Beltzner
    Posted September 29, 2009 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I don’t understand something, Mike; if it’s really about pushing into the enterprise space as you surmise, then why doesn’t Chrome Frame take into consideration the needs and requests of enterprise users vis a vis deployment, access control, customization, etc.

    Presently you need admin privs to install Chrome Frame, and I don’t think it plays nicely with Active Domain in terms of rolling things out. Further, it doesn’t respect (in fact, can’t even observer) Windows settings, so other enterprise advantages to IE aren’t being uplifted.

    I would think that if Chrome wanted to get serious about the enterprise, they’d get serious about the enterprise with their product. IT admins feel no love towards IE as a brand, they feel love towards how easily it can be centrally administered.

  2. Posted September 29, 2009 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    You might be right, but I think Google is too hippie-ridden to really succeed at appealing to the corporate market. Companies that are still on IE6 aren’t going to allow installation of add-ons like Chrome Frame, either. And RIM is already under fire from the iPhone — with its Exchange integration, plenty o’ execs are opting for that instead.

    In re your “lightweight non-Windows OS on the business desktop,” someday it’ll be the year of the network computer, but honestly we seem further away from it than we did back in the days of XTerminals connecting to NT 3.1 servers with Citrix WinFrame. Back when Windows desktops were $2000, the idea of a $500 terminal was kinda compelling. Now that Windows desktops are like $400, why even think about it?

  3. Posted September 29, 2009 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Quoting Mike Beltzner: “Presently you need admin privs to install Chrome Frame, and I don’t think it plays nicely with Active Domain in terms of rolling things out.”

    You are discussing the public release of Chrome Frame, and it’s possible that an enterprise version may exist somewhere under NDA.

    Quoting Mike Kozlowski: “Companies that are still on IE6 aren’t going to allow installation of add-ons like Chrome Frame, either.”

    Wrong. Rolling out a new plugin within the enterprise is trivial in comparaison to rolling out a new browser installation.

    “Now that Windows desktops are like $400, why even think about it?”

    The desktop hardware and OS is no longer the low-hanging-fruit of TCO optimization within the enterprise, and hasn’t been for some time. The fat that will be trimmed in the coming decade is the fat that you’ll find in Office, in Office Server 2007 (aka Sharepoint), in Exchange servers, etc.