Google's Chromium, and the red carpet provided by IE 6

A couple months ago the world was introduced to Google’s Chromium. In short, it’s a browser that does a few OS things - but when finished it’s going to be an internet client machine with little to no functionality beyond this.

I scoffed as have a lot of people. Google’s a big company after all, but Microsoft OWNS the desktop. After 15 years of trying Linux has barely put a scratch in the Windows market share. Apple has had only slightly more success. How does Google think they can beat Windows. I had my laugh, cracked some jokes and forgot about Chromium. After all, it isn’t going to run my PC games and can’t do anything but browse so I don’t need it. Grandpa and Grandma can barely figure out how the mouse works might like the simplification, but I don’t care.

Or at least I didn’t. Funny thing happened at work.

I am a web developer and my current job is building a database application for a medical billing company. My boss hates Microsoft with a passion and has instructed me to only test the application in Firefox 3.5. He doesn’t care if it works on anything else.

I was thinking about this one day when it occurred to me, that directive is how IE 6 got it’s hooks in the first place - make sure the company intranet pages work on IE 6, to hell with anything else.

Microsoft won the browser war and rested on their laurels, giving IE 6 a huge amount of inertia.

So what does this have to do with Chrome and Chromium? Well, Windows got it’s dominance by insuring that corporations needed Windows to run their business aps, most critically the ones they wrote themselves. However, as these have moved online the applications are becoming OS agnostic. But they aren’t browser agnostic (at least not IE 6 vs the rest of the world).

Microsoft has created a pickle for themselves. IE 6 isn’t supported in their newest OS, and keeping pages that worked in IE 6 working in IE 7 and 8 is next to impossible. Hence they are slowly forcing these companies to rewrite their in house stuff. Now, are these companies going to trust Microsoft not to drop support for a browser again?

Enter Chromium. First, it is only a browser. But my company only needs a browser on the computer - there are no other applications used by the staff in their day to day operations. I’m guessing there’s quite a few companies out there in a similar position. Now, if chromium will run browser based software better and faster than Windows…

And if it does it cheaper…

Suddenly Google’s OS doesn’t look so Quixotic after all. Windows will continue to be a desktop/laptop monopoly. But it’s ill equipped to handle the thin-client world. For corporations that have a lot of web based software there’s a lot of attractiveness in Chromium. The limited functionality actually becomes a feature in this environment.

And if Google succeeds in this they can thank IE 6 for creating the favorable environment and getting corporations to move off OS specific applications in the first place.

For the prior 15 years it was IBM who owned the PC (it still has the name they gave their first model) and Microsoft was just one of the minor companies supplying code to IBM. Even though they parted company after 9 years it still took Microsoft a further 6 years to knock IBM from the top spot and take over that spot for themselves. They did that with a huge marketing campaign for a minor DOS upgrade that just happened to be incompatible with all the other DOS versions around at the time (and was nowhere near being the best operating system available - both IBM and Microsoft had better ones).

If Microsoft could do that with a minor product and a huge amount of marketing then obviously Google is well placed now to do exactly the same thing and claim the top spot from Microsoft.

Off topic but your boss is a moron.

Letting personal feelings impact business decisions, geesh. If your users are using IE then they will care if it works in their browser or not, and they are the only people that matter.

He is not a moron. IntRAnet - learn to read. We assign, own, and fully control the computers that use the software. The company writes the user’s paychecks - they can use Firefox and like it or find another job. The web pages in question are blocked from the greater Internet by a firewall.

IE is veritable security minefield. Also, investing time in making the pages work on multiple machines is an unjustifiable expense. So it has to work in 1 browser only. I code to standards so it should work in Chrome and Safari, but I’m not obligated to test it in those browsers (and not allowed to do so on company time).

Impossible to read anything that isn’t actually stated in your post. Perhaps you should learn to be more clear in your postings.

I am a web developer and my current job is building a database application for a medical billing company. My boss hates Microsoft with a passion and has instructed me to only test the application in Firefox 3.5. He doesn’t care if it works on anything else.

Intranet? Nope, nowhere in the project description…

Now if you had posted

He doesn’t care if it works on anything else because our browser standard is Firefox 3.5 on our corporate Intranet

Then it would have been clear.

Best of luck to you

but implied since few internet users are medical billing companies.

Yet it still has nothing to do with my level of literacy as questioned by the OP.

To make assumptions like that when posting information is intellectual laziness at best. To then jump down someone’s throat because you made that assumption is unacceptable in polite society (and yes I know the Internet is about as far from polite society as we will ever get). There is nothing in the original post that states or even infers that Firefox 3.5 is the only browser that the users can use and if it were included as a statement of fact it would completely change the meaning of the original sentence as per my example.

The OP’s original overall comments are valid ones, only the response of his tone was out of line.

At the end of the day, 20 years ago we had mainframes and thin clients and the such and we got rid of them, it’s funny that we are now going back towards that model.

I have doubts that cloud computing will exterminate the desktop and private servers worldwide because Google/Amazon who are pushing this in a big way are US companies and are thus subject to US laws. People’s data is valuable and private and for that reason companies/governments outside the USA cannot (often by law) host that data outside their borders or with US owned companies in fear that the US government will force those companies to divulge that data.

I love the concept and have great faith in the companies themselves but for that simple reason none of the government projects that I work on would ever be able to make use of their services.

tke, I owe you an apology. I’m not the most diplomatic person on the site by a long stretch.

Anyway, this move back to thin-client/server land is interesting, but motivated largely by the allure of subscription software since that is a constant revenue stream. Time was when the hardware and software growth made peole want to stay current, but these days even software that is several years old is more than powerful enough for most needs. I myself use Office 2003 and see no need to upgrade, same with Macromedia Fireworks 8.