Would you like, if I tell you that I can double the speed of your Internet Explorer operations, and that would not cost you a dime? No, I really mean it. And it gets even more interesting, as the new script, developed by Google, can increase the Internet Explorer speed up to 10 times!!!
It would not be an overstatement to call it one of the more interesting developments in the web landscape to come about in some time, because it finally provides a real solution to the horror that is Internet Explorer. It’s not perfect, of course, but it’s an audacious start. If nothing else, it should give Microsoft a rather swift kick in the ass (thanks Jim Ray for this assessment).
On September 22, 2009, it was released on the Google website as an early version of Google Chrome Frame, an open source plug-in that brings HTML5 and other open web technologies to Internet Explorer.
The extra speed and HTML 5 support are necessary, said Google, if IE users are to run advanced Web applications such as Google Wave, a collaboration and communications tool that debuted last May.
Notably, IE8's SunSpider scores with Chrome Frame running equaled Google's Chrome browser, a solid indication that the plug-in effectively turns any version of IE into the speed equivalent of Chrome itself.
In spite of the remarkable improvement in Microsoft application speed, it does not seem that the Microsoft is too happy getting the boost from one of the major rivals. Microsoft has scrambled to ruin Google's party, and warned users not to download the plug-in because, and you'll like this, it potentially compromises Internet Explorer 8 security, as reported by Ars Technica.
"It's not necessarily that plug-ins aren't or can't be secure, but that running a browser within a browser doubles the potential attack surface in a way that we don't see is particularly helpful," said Amy Bazdukas, Microsoft's general manager for IE.
Bazdukas also said that by running Chrome Frame, IE8 users were unwittingly discarding all the private browsing protections that Microsoft built into its newest browser.
"Chrome Frame breaks the privacy model of IE," she claimed. "Users are not going to be able to use IE's privacy features, something that's not made apparent to users. They're essentially circumvented."
Bazdukas also maintained that IE8's browser history deletion feature is crippled by Chrome Frame; users who decide to erase the history may think it's working when it's not.
In a statement earlier today, Microsoft said using Chrome Frame is not "a risk we would recommend our friends and families take." Bazdukas, however, got more specific. "We're not saying that there's a specific security vulnerability in Chrome Frame, but the concern that plug-ins in general have had regarding security issues adds a new potential threat when Chrome Frame is used. Users have told us that they're looking for a better and safer browser, and we can't see how [using Chrome Frame] will deliver that."
Bazdukas tied Google's release of Chrome Frame to its rival's desire to promote Wave, but at the expense of IE. "Chrome Frame is all about supporting the impending release of Google Wave," she argued.
More irritating to Microsoft, though, is that Google is trying to profit from IE's position as the world's leading browser. "Google hasn't been able to make an impact on market share with Chrome," said Bazdukas, "and so they've turned to alternate means. Chrome Frame would look to capitalize on the leadership position that we have."
According to the most recent data from Web metrics company Net Applications, IE accounted for 67% of all browsers used last month, with IE8 holding a 15% share on its own. Google's Chrome, meanwhile, controlled just 3% of the browser market in August. But Bazdukas declined to say whether Microsoft could or would somehow block Chrome Frame from being used with IE. "Our focus now is making sure that users understand the tradeoffs they're making if they use Chrome Frame," she said. "People expect that things like IE8's privacy mode [will] work as advertised."
In the end, Microsoft knows what its users want better than Google, said Bazdukas. "The many years we've been in the browser business, we've been able to get a lot of feedback from users," she said. "And they've told us that they're looking for security, privacy and reliability. With IE8, we think we've done a great job at delivering those to customers."
Are you scared by the Microsoft warnings? So, wait for the battle to settle the accounts. I am not, and I am going to try the new plug-in, since I do not think the security danger is even comparable to the benefits you get from the browser improvement.
The Chrome Frame plug-in works with IE6, IE7 and IE8 on Windows XP and Windows Vista. It's available from Google's site as a free download.