[LINK] Microsoft howls as Google turns IE into Chrome

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Fri Sep 25 10:03:57 AEST 2009

Microsoft howls as Google turns IE into Chrome
By Cade Metz in San Francisco
24th September 2009 19:41 GMT
The Register

Updated Google is offering a new Internet Explorer plug-in that turns 
Microsoft's browser into a Google browser. And in predictable fashion, 
Microsoft is peeved.

As it prepares to grant widespread access to the preview version of 
Google Wave - its new-age communications platform - Google has fashioned 
an IE plug-in that equips Microsoft's future-challenged browser with the 
rendering and JavaScript engines at the heart of Google Chrome. Among 
other things, this introduces IE to the world of HTML5, the next 
generation hypertext markup language that Microsoft is, shall we say, 
rather slow to adopt.

That, in turn, will allow Internet Explorer to properly run Google Wave, 
which leans heavily on the still-gestating HTML5 standard and requires 
pretty hefty JavaScript and DOM (Document Object Model) performance. 
"Unfortunately, Internet Explorer, still used by the majority of the 
Web's users, has not kept up with such fairly recent developments in Web 
technology," reads a blog post from Wave founding father Lars Rasmussen 
and technical lead Adam Schuck.

"In the past, the Google Wave team has spent countless hours solely on 
improving the experience of running Google Wave in Internet Explorer. We 
could continue in this fashion, but using Google Chrome Frame instead 
lets us invest all that engineering time in more features for all our 
users, without leaving Internet Explorer users behind."

And by adding a new tag, other developers can run their web applications 
on Google's new turn-IE-into-Chrome plug-in.

Of course, Microsoft wants Internet Explorer to remain Internet Explorer 
- despite/because of its poor JavaScript performance and HTML5 lag. 
"With Internet Explorer 8, we made significant advancements and updates 
to make the browser safer for our customers," reads a canned statement 
from the company.

"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."

Microsoft may have point that running a browser inside a browser expands 
the attack surface area. But it's a small one. "It sounds like the 
Microsoft spokesperson is suggesting that because plug-ins have a 
history of insecurity (as all software does), then Google Chrome Frame 
must also have the same problems," says Jeremiah Grossman, a 
web-application security expert and the CTO of WhiteHat Security.

"If so, that is a very shallow critique. Malware that targets Chrome is 
essentially unheard of due to an insignificant market share as compared 
to Internet Explorer, which is routinely targeted."

What's more, Microsoft has a certain interest in keeping Google Wave at 
bay. And that "friends and family" bit is priceless. And it's a tad 
ironic that Redmond is complaining about plug-ins as it clings to 
Silverlight while the rest of the major browser vendors push ahead with 

To be fair, Microsoft has finally joined the HTML5 discussion. And even 
Google admits that Redmond has restrictions that other browser makers 
don't have.

"I think Microsoft has a lot of constraints, as the vendor with the 
browser that has the largest share," Google engineering head Vic Gundtra 
said at the company's developer conference this spring. "They have to 
worry about issues that some of us don't have to. They have a huge 
enterprise usage, and enterprises have specialized requirements. 
Updating these browsers could break enterprise apps."

But in this case, Microsoft's FUD is chock-full of even more nonsense 
than the FUD it spewed over the Google plug-in that turned Microsoft 
Outlook into Gmail.

On another level, all this underscores why Google felt the need to build 
its own browser - and its own browser-based operating system. Under 
development for more than two years, Google Wave is a browser app 
designed to reinvent online communication, crossbreeding email with IM 
and document sharing. But it can't run on the world's most popular 
browser. Google is intent on replacing Windows, Office, and Outlook, but 
first, it must replace IE.

Next week, if you try to log-in to Google Wave with Internet Explorer 6, 
7, or 8, you'll get a message that suggests you install Google Chrome 
Frame - or make the switch to Firefox, Safari, or (the real) Chrome. But 
there will be a small note at the bottom that says "If you want to 
continue at your own peril, go ahead."

So, it's a choice between your own peril and the safety of your friends 
and family. Or you can just ditch IE and switch to a better browser. If 
you're reading these words, chances are you've already made the switch. 
But you have to wonder how many will follow. And how quickly.


After a request from The Reg, Google has responded to Microsoft's 
comments on its new plug-in. "Google Chrome Frame is an open source 
plug-in that is currently in an early developer release and was designed 
with security in mind from the beginning," says a Google 
spokesman."While we encourage users to use a more modern and standards 
compliant browser such as Firefox, Safari, Opera or Google Chrome rather 
than a plug-in, for those who don't, Google Chrome Frame is designed to 
provide better performance, strong security features, and more choice to 
both developers and users, across all versions of Internet Explorer.

"Accessing sites using Google Chrome Frame brings Google Chrome's 
security features to Internet Explorer users, providing strong phishing 
and malware protection (absent in IE6), robust sandboxing technology, 
and defenses from emerging online threats that are available in days 
rather than months. We invite all parties with thoughts about Google 
Chrome Frame to explore our code and provide feedback about this 
technology with the open source community."


Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Canberra Australia
brd at iimetro.com.au

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