Google announced its first concerted effort to get its Chrome browser in the hands of more enterprise users. Today Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) announced controls designed to let IT administrators easily configure and deploy the browser on Windows, Mac, and Linux systems of their choosing. Google said its new MSI installer lets businesses that use standard deployment tools install Chrome for all their managed users.
"We've also added support for managed group policy with a list of policies and a set of templates that allow administrators to easily customize browser settings to manage security and privacy," Google said in a blog post. "For your users that need access to older Web applications not yet qualified for Chrome, we also added group policy support to Google Chrome Frame, an Internet Explorer plug-in that provides Chrome-quality rendering for the broader Web, while defaulting to host rendering for any Web applications that still require IE."
The news follows a major update of the Chrome OS and browser released last week. New features of the browser include Chrome Instant that automatically shows results pages as you type a query into the browser's Omnibox. Instead of a separate search bar, Chrome's Omnibox can be used to enter either URLs or search queries. Google launched "Instant" earlier as a feature of its main Google.com search page.
"We think Chrome is a great solution for IT departments as it's getting tougher for them to secure browsers," Rajen Sheth, group product manager for Google Enterprise, told InternetNews.com. "We're giving IT a modern browser that's easy to administer and gives their users the ability to run the latest HTML5, Web applications."
Microsoft supports HTML 5 in its latest browser, IE9, currently available in beta release. But IE 9 is not compatible with Windows XP. Microsoft has suggested that Windows XP shops either upgrade to Windows 7 or use IE8. Conversely, Google said its latest Chrome browser runs on XP, and users can run other browsers alongside it to run legacy websites and services.
"For most organizations on some version of IE, they typically uninstall the older version as part of an upgrade, but we let you deploy Chrome right alongside," Glenn Wilson, product manager for Google Chrome, told InternetNews.com. "We wanted to make sure Chrome works on an enterprise's existing infrastructure." Wilson also said the new management tools will incorporate any existing Chrome users without them needing to reinstall the browser.
In addition to its internal testing, Google said a number of customers, including Vanguard, Boise State University, and Procter & Gamble have already successfully deployed Chrome to thousands of users. Google also said its Google Apps for Business customers can get the same email and phone support for Chrome's new administrative features.
"Chrome is an important part of our cloud computing story," said Sheth.