Google Chrome Frame Helps IE6 be a Better Browser

I was recently forwarded an article about Google’s Chrome Frame ass a method to finally (sort of) get rid of IE6.  Google Chrome Frame (GCF) is an browser plug-in developed solely for Internet Explorer (IE) users that will “convert” any version of IE to Google Chrome (it actually creates a portal of sorts within IE, but, details…).

Of course, the ordeal is still getting users to find out this plug-in exists, then be comfortable enough to download and install it…  :-)

I also found the Google Chrome Frame Developer’s Guide to be pretty useful.

So, let me make sure I have “the process” right:

  1. Developers have to add this META tag to any pages that they want Google Chrome Frame (GCF) to be used on:
    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="chrome=1">
  2. Users have to first know about, then be able to, and comfortable with, downloading and installing GCF
  3. Then as users surf the web using any IE product, if they encounter a page that has the above META tag, they will be asked if they would like to switch to GCF

Is this right?  If so…

  1. I don’t like the idea that we have to put an extra META tag in every page (because, seriously, what page wouldn’t we want people to us GCF on?) just for one browser (though, you could do server-side sniffing (well, some companies can) to test whether to include the META tag, but again, you’re performing that action for every page load, needed or not…).  It smacks badly of the IE-Compatibility META tag that MS was so bashed about asking people to put into all their pages.  It means that, 10 years down the road, when IE6 has (hopefully) finally breathed its last breath, pages could still be floating around with some long-forgotten META tag in its HEAD…
  2. And I understand that we can add a SCRIPT tag that will sniff client-side, teaching IE-users about, and prompting them to install, GCF.  I could go for this, if done gently, so as not to bust-up the user experience…  Though, I wonder if the plug-in offers a different message to users that have the plug-in, but are just not actively using it…
  3. I wonder what the browsing experience is like for users if they encounter pages with, then without, then with, the above META tag as they switch from page-to-page on a site?  Will CF toggle on and off, giving the user new requests to start CF with each new META tag the browser encounters?

I have to say, all-in-all, this is incredible, of course, and it plays really closely to a conversation I had the other day with a co-worker where I was saying that it would be great if the IE team would create a library of translators for IE7+ that would allow legacy apps to continue using IE6-only functionality, but would recognize the functions that no longer exist, translate those requests into the newer functions, and return whatever values the old functions expects…  This would allows system administrators to upgrade without breaking anything…

That said, I would really prefer to see the META tag killed, keep the JS sniffer, and let users decide when and where they switch to CF, without us having to remind them that they have it installed (again, seriously, who in the world, once they’ve used Chrome, would want to switch back to IE6???)…

Anyway, those are my thoughts… Anyone else out there?

Happy browsing,

PS:  An important note to anyone testing this:
“Note that you can’t make a local copy of the JavaScript library and use it with a file:// URL – that won’t work.”

PSS: And two items to keep in mind for your users that might use this:
* Printing is not yet implemented.
* Downloads initiated from Google Chrome Frame are downloaded, but neither the Google Chrome nor the host browser UI is displayed.

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