Microsoft officials have said they want to encourage companies running older versions of Internet Explorer (IE) -- especially the very non-Web-standards-compliant IE 6 -- upgrade to a newer browser version.
But Google has gone a step beyond that by introducing a plug-in that runs Google Chrome inside IE.
The new Google Chrome Frame is designed to work on IE 6, IE 7 or IE 8. But it seems to be especially targeted at IE 6 users, who are running an eight-year-old browser.
As Microsoft and other company watchers have noted, many companies won't allow their users to move off IE 6 because of internal standardization and deployment policies. (The "if you are running anything other than IE 6, you're on your own" school.)
Tech Crunch talked with a couple of the Google engineers behind the project. From Tech Crunch's write-up:
"Yes, it’s both hilarious and awesome (or hilariously awesome, if you will) that Google seems to dislike IE so much that it has spent its own time improving it. Google claims its goals are noble. Talking to Group Product Manager Mike Smith and Software Engineer Alex Russell, they tell us that they simply want to make a more seamless web experience for both web users and developers. That said, they are only targeting one browser, IE, right now."
(Tech Crunch doesn't mention that Google Chrome's market share is hovering under three percent.)
Microsoft has taken a cautious approach to getting IE 6 users to upgrade -- understandable given the large percentage of IE customers who are corporate users. But there's no question the Redmondians would love to have to support fewer different versions of IE, too.
From an August blog post by IE General Manager Dean Hachamovitch:
"We’ve blogged before about keeping users in control of their PCs, usually in the context of respecting user choice of search settings or browser defaults. We’ll continue to strongly encourage Windows users to upgrade to the latest IE. We will also continue to respect their choice, because their browser is their choice."
Microsoft recently has been offering to donate the equivalent of sixteen meals to the poor every time someone upgrades from Internet Explorer 6 to Internet Explorer 8.
I've asked Microsoft whether the IE team has any response to Chrome Frame. No word back yet. (And I'll be kind of surprised if there is any....)
Google's Chrome Frame introduction, in spite of its engineers comments, is anything but an altruistic act. Do you think Chrome Frame will get Chrome much new traction?