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1/7/2011
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Jim Rapoza
Jim Rapoza
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Review: Google Chrome Browser Gets Business Friendly

With the release of Chrome for Business, Google has made it possible for companies to build and deploy customized and locked-down versions of the Chrome Web browser.

Google Chrome OS Promises Computing Without Pain
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Slideshow: Google Chrome OS Promises Computing Without Pain

The Google Chrome Web browser has made significant in-roads over the last year, growing to nearly ten percent of the browser market in less than two years.

But when it comes to penetration into business markets, Chrome has traditionally had a key weakness when compared to market leaders such as Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. Both of these products provide tools and kits to help businesses create and deploy customized and locked-down versions of the browser to employees, with IE providing the Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK) and Mozilla offering the Client Customization Kit.

The closest option that businesses looking to customize Chrome had was to use the open-source Chromium code. This provided near limitless customization but is realistically beyond the skill sets of most companies, who really just want to lock-down and customize basic settings of the browser, such as home page and security options.

However, in December Google finally addressed this missing capability of Chrome with the release of Chrome for Business. And after using the tool for the last few weeks, I've found it to be one of the better thought out and straightforward browser customization products that I've seen, at least for Windows versions of the browser.

On the Windows side, Chrome for Business essentially consists of two components, a stand-alone MSI installer for the browser and a set of group policy templates. The templates are probably one of the smartest decisions in Chrome for Business.

While competing tools like IEAK and CCK have their own wizard-based interfaces for customizing the browser, Chrome takes advantage of the Group Policy features of Windows itself, something that will be familiar to most Windows administrators.

This means that, in order to create a customized version of the Chrome browser, I simply had to open up the Chrome templates in the Windows Group Policy Editor and then define the settings that I wanted for the customized company version of Chrome.

Within this template, I could customize and lock down a number of the features of Chrome. I could perform a number of tasks including lock the browser to use a certain home page and search engine, prevent JavaScript from running, define whitelists and blacklists of acceptable and unacceptable extensions and plug-ins, and configure browsers to use a certain proxy server.

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