Comic Update: IT Job Security vs Google Chrome FrameMonday, September 28th, 2009
Google has presented us with yet another gilded offering meant to enhance the web experience for the masses (which appears to be a web experience involving their rendering engine): Google Chrome Frame. If you want to get the sales pitch then watch Alex Russell, one of Google’s engineers, explain it here.
I’ll sum it up for you: Google Chrome Frame is a plug-in for Internet Explorer, that makes it act like Google Chrome. Why would we want this? Well, mainly because IE (especially the older versions), is a wee bit (or a lot) behind on standards and features implementation.
The stated reasons by Google for this act of charity are summed up with making websites cooler for users, and making lives easier for website creators who often have to do some bizarre things (which only rarely involve goats, mayonnaise or unbuttoning pants) to make a website look proper on Internet Explorer. This is especially true with the older versions 6 & 7, which persists on too many people’s computers like relatives that just don’t know when to get the hell out after a holiday celebration. So with this plug-in, users have fun and developers save money. Hooray!
Well, in an ideal world. But in an ideal world I’d be typing this post from my veranda overlooking my palatial, lakeside estate.
The fact is, there’s a reason that IE6 and 7 still exist in the wild in such large numbers. It’s not because Microsoft is attempting to keep them going. Quite the opposite, in fact. They’ve even had programs where they offered to feed people for every download of IE8 they had.
The reason for these legacy browsers is that your grandmother is scared of pop-ups, so hasn’t upgraded a program since the mid-nineties. Also, and more culpably, there’s apparently a large number of major corporations that have IT departments that are unwilling or unable to upgrade from IE6 to something made in the last ten years.
When you think of these misanthropic individuals, claiming to be tech experts while clinging to the halcyon days of FORTRAN, you have to ask yourself this question: are these the sort of people that will let office drone Mr. Smith load a plug-in on the computer in his cubicle?
I’m going to bet that more often than not, the answer is no. Today’s comic explores the conundrum of facing a Luddite at the helm of your corporation’s IT department, guest starring a frustrated Alex Russell. (For fun, watch his Google Chrome Frame video again, and look at his facial expressions. Jeremy Keith sums up what you see here.)
Assuming that somehow you could get the IT departments of America to reverse course, the second requirement for Google Chrome Frame to work is adding a meta-tag to your web pages to support it.
Didn’t Microsoft try to sell us this a while back, with a resulting mob of violence? Why yes, yes they did. As it doesn’t seem to be widely adopted, I’m not sure I see any reason to expert website creators to flock to Google’s banner to do the same thing. I know I won’t bother.
But frankly, I’d rather serve IE6 a “gracefully” degraded experience anyhow.
Ultimately, for this plug-in to save the world, or at least the web, it needs two very unlikely scenarios to occur. IT departments need to lose their fear of upgrades, and website creators need to start adding tags to their markup to serve a single browser (well, a single plug-in on a single browser). That’s easy… right?
Google, thanks for your honest effort. But I don’t see any compelling evidence that will lead me to believe that you’ll succeed in turning stubborn people around where Microsoft failed. You can lead a horse to water, but…