Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Run Google Chrome inside IE. So what’s the big deal?


I think you’ve already heard this. It’s all over the Internet, and has got every body talking. The general opinion aired by most of these tech blogs, and popular one too, is that it’s hilarious to run Chrome inside IE, and how everybody hates IE and Google is trying to kill it and other conspiracy theories running amok. Okay, I hate IE too. We all hate it. But this has nothing to do with killing Internet Explorer. On the contrary, I think Google just lengthened the lifespan of Internet Explorer.


Those who are still clueless, Google just released a plug-in called Google Chrome Frame for Internet Explorer that brings Chrome’s rendering engine to IE. Think about it as the IE Tab (or Coral IE Tab) addon for Firefox but in reverse. In doing so, Google has made possible for IE users to enjoy the new features of HTML5 such as the “canvas” tag, and take advantage of Chrome’s better JavaScript engine for improved performance and faster response time.

The plug-in simply creates a new frame inside of IE that runs the Chrome browser. The plug-in itself is lightweight (around 500KB), but it must download around 10 MB of Chrome-related data to work correctly on a machine. The plug-in works seamless that the user won’t even realize that the pages are being rendered in Chrome instead of IE. This is good for folks who simply can’t let go the big blue e. Also we mentioned earlier how most corporate and businesses can’t upgrade to the new versions because that would mean upgrading the whole infrastructure.

This doesn’t mean that all HTML5 tags would start working on IE right away, because developers would have to target the Chrome plug-in by inserting a meta tag in their HTML code. If the Chrome plug-in is found it will switch to Chrome’s rendering engine, otherwise it will render the page normally using IE.

How popular this plug-in is going to be is still a matter of debate. Most IE users are likely to have no idea what it is or why they should install it. Web developers too who have their pages tweaked to work with IE, have no reason why should they target the plug-in, unless they use specific HTML5 features in their pages. Not to mention, HTML5 itself will take time take off.

If you are a developer and looking for methods to make HTML5 work in Internet Explorer, then you can checkout another project called ExplorerCanvas, that brings the “canvas” tag to IE. (Thanks Shell extension City)

All in all, it’s nice step by Google. Call it a subtle competitive move or direct attack on Microsoft, the Chrome plug-in is going to make things easy for most developers and users alike.


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