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9/3/2008
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Google Chrome Faces Long Road To Enterprise Adoption

IT admins want to be aware of Chrome because it could infiltrate companies the way instant messaging did, through users determined to use the software they like, without IT approval.

Google's new Chrome browser is getting plenty of attention, but it isn't yet ready for enterprise adoption, according to a bevy of analysts.

"It's really premature from an enterprise perspective to really start planning for this," said Forrester Research analyst Sheri McLeish. People are slow to adopt new browsers, particularly in companies, she said. Chrome, she said, is "not top of mind for IT organizations."

At the same time, McLeish suggests IT administrators want to be aware of Chrome because it could infiltrate companies the way instant messaging did, through users determined to use the software they like, without IT approval.

Laurent Lachal, senior analyst at Ovum, sees Chrome as Google's effort to expand from search to applications. Google, in fact, has articulated that strategy in its self-described focus on "search, ads, and apps."

"This is a diversification that is both necessary and timely," said Lachal in a research note. "The launch starts with the assertion that browsers need to become application platforms -- with the implicit assumption that Chrome will be a particularly good platform for Google's own applications and the starting point for a more integrated experience across these applications."

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For companies, any improvement in the Web as a platform should be welcomed: Businesses want their Web applications to be stable and fast and anything Google can do to make Web apps more robust and more competitive with desktops apps promises improved productivity and happier users.

Ray Valdes, an analyst with Gartner, acknowledges that as early adopters have a better experience using Web applications with Chrome, traditional software vendors like Microsoft could feel more competitive pressure. But he, too, thinks it will be a while before Chrome changes things for businesses.

"It will be a while before [Chrome] has a direct impact on enterprises," said Valdes. "The reason for that is enterprises move really slowly. Also, enterprises have a need to manage and administer software in a systematic, larger-scale way and they need tools for that. That's been an issue for Firefox."

Valdes says that while some companies have a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that allows individuals to download and use software like Chrome or Firefox, it's rare to see such software used officially throughout an organization.

One potential selling point for organizations is Chrome's security model. Because Google built Chrome from the ground up, it was able to utilize "technology that has historically been associated with operating systems to create isolation between different browser tabs with the aim of improved crash-resistance and security," as IDC analyst Al Hilwa puts it in a research note.

It's still too early to determine whether Google's approach will lead to better security in practice -- vulnerabilities in the Chrome beta already have been found. But if Chrome's multiprocess architecture pays off and makes Chrome demonstrably more secure than the competition, companies will have a strong incentive to take Chrome seriously.

If you haven't seen Chrome in action yet, take a spin through our Google Chrome image gallery and have a look at the browser that's being touted as a game-changer.

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