Stable Google Chrome Frame enables HTML5 browsing in IE6

Gez Hebburn

Chrome Frame LogoIn a bid to improve the lot of the world's least intelligent browser users (ok I know it was a hoax... but still...) Google released a stable version of the Chrome Frame plug-in for Internet Explorer on Tuesday.

Noting the fact that potentially billions of internet users around the world are limited to legacy versions of Internet Explorer often running on antiquated Windows operating systems, Google have developed Chrome Frame to solve the problem.

Chrome Frame is an indispensable addition for their main competitor's ageing browser product, and represents a typically Google strategy of providing a free and useful service that is good for business. Microsoft had shown no sign of helping out their legacy user base - or somehow capitalising on the potential of all those old browsers - presumably reflecting a carrot-on-a-stick upgrade-path philosophy to 'encourage' operating system sales.

Google stands to gain a vast number of previously 'locked out' users, and by providing them with the means to access services such as Google Docs and Google+, Chrome Frame will also facilitate the collection and analysis of previously inaccessible usage data; the real currency of Google's continued success.

Even an individual using Internet Explorer 6 on a Windows XP machine will be able to experience and enjoy emerging HTML5 web content, advanced Javascript and all the latest modern standards capabilities  - with no additional investment. Recognising the limited tech-savvy and IT department frustration many legacy PC users suffer from, Google Chrome Frame can even be installed without admin privileges.

To bypass Microsoft's tired old Trident layout engine and instead make use of Chrome's open source Webkit web content engine, websites must invoke Chrome Frame using some simple code. Google's own services are already prompting IE6 users to install the new plug-in, and we can expect to see many web developers including Chrome Frame capabilities to maximise their project's usability.

Microsoft have understandably been grumbling about the development ever since the beta was released in 2009. A Microsoft spokesman stated that Chrome Frame "doubles the attach area for malware and malicious scripts" and - surprise surprise - advised users not to install it. Of course Microsoft are typically far from honest about relative security concerns, and their products remain the most targeted by phishing and malware. The company is always quick to point out that Internet Explorer is 'the most secure browser' - but fails to mention that they sponsor the reports in question.

This month, in it's third year, Chrome officially overtook Firefox as the second most used internet browser, which begs the question - will Chrome Frame identify individuals as Chrome or Internet Explorer users?

Whatever next... an IE9 plugin for Chrome? Well, we can't see that catching on ;)

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