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Google Takes Chrome Frame Out Of Beta

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Chrome browsing within IE is moving ahead, despite security concerns and the demise of Google Wave

A plug-in which effectively gives Internet Explorer users a Google Chrome experience has been promoted from “beta” to “stable” by Google.

The Chrome Frame plug-in allows Microsoft’s Internet Explorer to render pages using the rendering and JavaScript engines of Google’s Chrome browser. It was developed so IE users could take puart in Google’s Wave project, which made heavy use of cutting-edge technologies such as HTML5 and required fast JavaScript performance.

Despite criticism from Microsoft and Mozilla over security issues opened up by the plug-in, and the fact that Google Wave has been terminated, Google is pressing on with the Chrome Frame plug-in.

Stability increased

“This stable channel release provides our most polished version of Google Chrome Frame to date, allowing users to access modern web technologies like HTML5 on legacy browsers,” Google said in a post last week on the company’s Chromium blog.

Users of the beta version will be automatically updated to the stable version in the coming days, and Google said it has published an installer for IT administrators wishing to deploy the plug-in on their networks.

Google said the plug-in now starts three times faster on Windows Vista and Windows 7 than when it went into beta in June. The most common conflicts with other plug-ins have now been fixed, reducing crashes, Google said.

Sites including DeviantART, Hootsuite and github have now added support for Chrome Frame, as well as Google applications such as Orkut, Google Docs and YouTube. Google said its Gmail and Google Calendar are planning to adopt the technology soon.

The development team will next focus on further improving start-up speed and removing the current requirement for administrator rights to install the plug-in.

Chrome Frame will in future be released on the same schedule as Chrome, Google said.

Security criticisms

When the plug-in was first released Microsoft and Mozilla both criticised it for allowing websites to side-step Internet Explorer’s built-in security tools.

“With Internet Explorer 8, we made significant advancements and updates to make the browser safer for our customers,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in September of last year. “Given the security issues with plug-ins in general and Google Chrome in particular, Google Chrome Frame running as a plug-in has doubled the attack area for malware and malicious scripts. This is not a risk we would recommend our friends and families take.”

The problem is partly due to the fact that once the plug-in is installed, the website makes the choice of whether to use the Chrome Frame or IE engines to render the page, according to Mozilla.

“The user’s understanding of the web’s security model and the behaviour of their browser is seriously hindered by delegating the choice of software to the developers of individual sites they visit,” said Mozilla’s vice president of engineering, Mike Shaver, last September.

Google responded that it had designed the plug-in with security in mind.