There was a rush to get out comments on Google’s new browser Chrome when it was launched at the beginning of September, indeed I even had internal mail expressing surprise that I had not posted a piece on Chrome. Whilst in no way expressing anything negative against my colleagues posts – all four of them on the CTOBlog and Capping IT Off Blog – I am concerned that the quest for immediacy may sometimes be at the expense of considered objectivity.
This point got re-enforced by a colleague, our very own guest blogger Vinesh, drawing my attention to Microsoft Mojave experiment which tried to find out exactly what people thought of Vista if they didn’t know it was Vista. The premise was it was the next operating system code named Mojave was therefore by implication better than Vista. The inevitable happened and people voted it better than the rating they had given Vista at the beginning of the interview before they tried the ‘Mojave’ version. There are a number of possible answers as to why this happens but at the root of it all still comes that we are making up our mind pretty subjectively, with brand I think playing a large part in this.
Take a look at what was done and how it was done, and consider what the lesson might be to take from this next time you are unveiling the latest offering from the IT department to a sceptical user population!
So back to Google; ten years old and playing a remarkable part in a whole lot of people’s lives, but beginning to be just a little too powerful perhaps for us to quite like it as much as when they were the little fellow? Maybe we should call it the Microsoft Complex, meaning what happens when a company wins out too well in the market place. At this stage, I guess we believe it has stopped helping us to balance the score against the present omnipresent force and instead it has itself become the new omnipresent force that might just not be on our side.
So before returning to Chrome, or more particularly what role we expect a browser to play in the future, let’s take a look at ten things we’re supposed to love or hate about Google. Just test your reactions, but most of all check if you really knew the facts behind each point, i.e. is your reaction subjective or objective. In my case, I think there is only one thing that does actually worry me and it’s the last one of the ten; data collection, holding and analysing.
It’s slightly embarrassing for me to state that the most objective and thought provoking piece on Chrome, for me at least was published by my son on his blog, but if you do read it, then I hope you will accept this as an objective statement! But even he didn’t add the real point that keeps going round in my head; what is the role of the browser in enterprise, when used to deliver solutions that treat the Web as an operating system, or are Cloud Computing-based? The clear point is that the current design and implementation of a browser was not designed for these conditions. Let’s just remember it was designed to be a text reading presentation layer used occasionally and probably in only one window. That’s not a negative comment, because neither Tim Berners-Lee, nor Mark Andreessen, could really have known what we would want a browser to do, when it was first defined.
For these new environments, the approach to the design of the browser owes more to enterprise level rock solid reliability, than it does to features and that’s what really interests me about Chrome. Is this really the browser that we can all rely on to deliver a new generation of web-based enterprise services? If so, then that’s the market and not the user features that so many debated immediately after its launch. Let me give you an example of how I think it will help me; about a quarter of all my interactions now occur through various web 2.0 social communities and not through email, that means having four or five browser windows open all the time. Each a separate login and entity, and if there is an error and failure in one Browser window then all of them crash together, now I have to log back into each individually again, it’s a real frustration. Chrome should mean only the affected Browser window will crash and all the others will continue to run, that’s a huge advantage.
Unfortunately, to know if this is true will take a little longer to find out through testing on one side and on the other to see how other technology partners decide what it can be used for in their plans. Either way, just re-read the comments on the five really big things about Google Chrome, with this in mind.