Will Chrome shine for CIOs?

WHEN GOOGLE RECENTLY ANNOUNCED THE AVAILABILITY OF A BETA VERSION OF ITS NEW OPEN-SOURCE BROWSER, CHROME, it sent shockwaves through an industry chock-a-block with viable browsers, including Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.

Chrome includes a combined search and address bar, snapshots of recently visited Web sites, robust independent tabs, and a new JavaScript engine.

From an IT management perspective, Chrome could do well, according to Canadian tech blogger Mark Evans. CIOs “might like the stripped-down aspects of it – it won’t consume a lot of resources, including computing power and bandwidth. The browser also offers new features around multimedia, applications, and content,” he said.

The idea of a simple Web browser could be the final tipping point for CIOs, who have long been searching for the best usability in that space and come up empty often, said Evans.

Users might hit a snag, however, when their new preferred browser doesn’t jive with the internal custom applications, or Internet Explorer-centric offerings. “This requires a lot of change management from the IT department,” said Forrester Research analyst Sheri McLeish. “Most IT shops have an understanding of Microsoft Internet Explorer and have built things to work with it.”

The name recognition alone might lure the curious into the new product, said IDC Canada analyst Kevin Restivo, and user curiosity will inevitably override any internal IT policy. “Employees will download it whether IT wants them to use it or not,” he said.

Plus, said Restivo, Firefox’s impressive functionality means that Google would have to offer up some pretty impressive features.

The name Google will have a warmer, fuzzier feeling for CIOs who are “often reluctant to change horses in midstream,” said Evans. “Firefox is open source and seen as the Wild West, so not a lot of CIOs have enabled Firefox. But Google has a better reception.”

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