Google launched Chrome Frame yesterday. It’s a browser plugin for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser that, if the website you’re visiting prefers so, turns it into Chrome. At first glance, this looked to me like a great solution and a well-deserved slap in the face for Microsoft, but then it hit me. Nobody will use this.
Recent versions of IE aren’t so bad. They’re slow, look a little silly and are still not as safe as the alternatives, but they render most pages OK enough. The real issue to us developers is the continued market share of IE6. Released in 2001, this ancient piece of software is slowing down innovation on the web by not supporting web standards and having all sorts of nasty quirks. If you’d add up all the money spent supporting IE6 in new, innovative web projects I’m sure you could save the economy of a small 3rd world country.
However, I think IE6’s current user base is made up out of two types of users. Corporate employees who are not allowed to install or modify the software on their company computer, and people who just don’t give a damn. If you care even a little and are allowed to upgrade your browser you have a better browser. If only for the tabs. Neither of these two groups will be likely to install Chrome Frame. Sad as it is, Frame offers no real solution to what is a very real problem.