Google Chrome and corporate Windows IT environments

Google Chrome and corporate Windows IT environments

Reading a blog post describing why Chrome is not usable within corporate Windows environment, my mind wandered a tad to consider why Chrome has been my preferred browser for the past several years.

The text is written from a developer’s perspective and provides many examples of where bugs in Chrome have made life difficult for developers. Due to the bugs, especially around NTLM authentication, the post asserts that Google has “a long history of shipping broken releases of Chrome”. Quite.

I must be doing something wrong but I’ve never had a real problem using Chrome. In fact, it was the speed and reliability of Chrome that attracted me to the browser in the first place and I’ve used it as my primary browser since 2007 or thereabouts. I use Chrome daily inside a Windows environment to interact with Office 365 as I administer my tenant domain or to work with Outlook Web App (OWA) and SharePoint sites. In addition, I have had no problems working with Chrome with on-premises Exchange servers.

In fact, the only time that I revert to Internet Explorer (IE) is when I need to take a screen shot for publishers (such as Microsoft Press) who insist on a particular browser. Looking back on my experience with Chrome, I think it fair to say that the lack of problems that I encounter with it can be attributed to the huge effort exerted by Microsoft since Exchange 2007 to support more than IE for use with the Office servers.

Chrome works for me, as do IE and Firefox. Safari, on the other hand, is less satisfactory as it sometimes gives up the ghost when rendering web pages and reverts to a simple text-like layout. I guess that it all depends on the platform you’re working on as the matrix of combinations of OS and browser version can be bewildering. In any case, at the time of writing, Chrome version 30 on Windows 8.1 Professional works fine for me.

What’s interesting in the post is the insight that it provides into the difficulties that corporate web developers have in dealing with multiple browsers. A company like Microsoft can easily invest the necessary resources to make OWA work well across multiple browsers, especially so because they can reach out to Google, Apple, or Firefox if the need arises to resolve bugs. I imagine that is much tougher for a developer working in an average corporation to attract the attention of a Chrome developer to have a bug fixed, especially in an area that is not directly aligned with Google’s technical direction or interests. As the post remarks, “It seems that Google's priority is the fancy new HTML5 stuff, not rock solid corporate NTLM support.

HTML5 is important for many reasons, not least being to maintain Google’s place in the ultra-competitive race between browser vendors, but it seems a pity that factors that could give Google a better position in the somewhat more conservative world of corporate IT were neglected in the rush to be the “most modern” browser. I guess it’s another indication of the way that consumer demands influence development methodologies and behavior in the world of ever-changing cloud applications.

I’d hate to think that Chrome should lose the plot and ignore the demands of Windows-centric corporate IT environments in a mad dash to embrace modern standards. Consumers are fickle and will change platform, OS, and browser at the drop of a hat as new whizz-bang devices appear. Corporations might be staid and slow-moving, but their dedication to standards and interfaces tie them into computing choices for many years. Wouldn’t it be better for all if Google made Chrome a better corporate citizen? I think so…

Follow Tony @12Knocksinna

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