There’s a little game of cat and mouse going on between Google and Microsoft, a game that just got a bit more interesting. Just now, Google sent a love-letter to web-developers worldwide; everyone except those at Microsoft. They got a Dear John letter.
Fresh off the stove, Google Chrome Frame allows users of Internet Explorer to leverage the speed and advanced rendering features of Google Chrome. In a nutshell, it lets users browse the web using the browser that came with their operating system, but actual page rendering is done by the Google Chrome engine.
Here’s an awesome HTML5 demo website in Internet Explorer 8:
Here’s the website in Internet Explorer 8 with Google Chrome Frame:
For web-developers, including myself, this is a joygasm. Where I used to be able to offer my customers two options: not caring about Internet Explorer and asking extra payment to hack and compromise, I can now offer to detect and/or suggest that users install Chrome Frame. It’ll even make Internet Explorer more secure. How about that.
There are a few thorns on this rose, of course. It takes a second more to load the Chrome Frame engine on websites that ask for it (but once Chrome Frame is “warm”, it loads unnoticably fast). Also, it’s a plugin; people will still have to install it. Finally, to leverage the power of Chrome Frame, developers have to add a single line of code to their websites to invoke Chrome Frame when available. All that, I find, is fine, comparing it to the alternative.
The question is whether “fixing” Internet Explorer is actually conducive to the adoption of superior browsers (i.e. all other current browsers on the market), or whether it hurts the cause by letting people snooze in their trainwreck blast-from-the-past browser. It’s like making your Cadillac Escalade fuel efficient and safe for others than yourself with a snap of your fingers; but do we want people to drive a Cadillac Escalade in the first place?
We’ll see how things play out. For now, Google has elegantly raised their middle finger in the general direction of Internet Explorer, and all Microsoft can do is sit back and suck it. Again.