Review: Google Chrome Browser Gets Business Friendly - InformationWeek
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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.

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Probably one of the most interesting customization settings was the option to block synchronization of data with Google. Because some companies and users are concerned with how Chrome handles data privacy, this makes it possible to deploy to employees versions of Chrome that by default won't share data with Google.

Each setting is clearly named within the policy template and a clear description of the setting controls is provided. In many cases, the option is a simple enable/disable (as in, disable JavaScript), though in settings such as startup pages or whitelists the option to provide a list of URLS or applications was provided.

Once a policy is configured, it can be pushed out to employee systems using any standard application distribution platform, such as Microsoft Systems Management Server, or the stand-alone MSI installer can be run directly on user machines. After completing my configuration, I was able to build and deploy versions of Chrome that were pre-configured to only the settings that I required.

In general, I found this to be an excellent system for building customized versions of the browser but it does have some weaknesses right now. For example, recommended and required settings are configured separately, which adds unnecessary work. I would have liked to have seen a Required/Recommended switch for each setting, much like what is offered in tools like IEAK.

Also, tools like IEAK and CCK provide one-stop configuration for all aspects of the browser, including both settings lock down and configuration, and customizations to look and feel and browser branding. While it is possible to make all of these customizations to Chrome, it will currently require multiple steps and tools to carry out.

The site for Chrome for Business suggests that it will also be possible to build customized versions of Chrome for the Mac, apparently through MCX configuration, though at the time of testing I was unable to find any of the tools or instructions for Chrome for Mac configuration. Customization for Linux users is done by defining required settings in a set of JSON files, which are read by the browser installation.

While Google Chrome for Business could offer more in the way of customization and configuration options, I found it to be a very good first-step in providing businesses with a tool for making sure that the browser that their employees use is configured to the proper settings and options. Whether this will result in Chrome becoming more popular in businesses remains to be seen.

Click here to check out Google Chrome for Business.


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