IT administrators tend to be a fickle bunch, and with good reason. When you're supporting a vital service that can determine whether or not your entire business can operate properly, you tend to be very cautious when it comes to changing out a key component. A key component like a Web browser, for example -- say, Internet Explorer 6, which is still a force to be reckoned with in the enterprise.
Google has been doing its best to get Chrome in the front door, of course. First there was Chrome Frame, which seamlessly integrates into Internet Explorer to provide a hybridized, modern Frankenbrowser. Next came Chrome's remoting feature -- which is still not ready for prime time but is positioning itself as an alternative to Terminal Services setups.
Two more recent additions -- the arrival of an MSI installer and added support for Windows policies -- have added even more enterprise cred to the browser. Chrome now offers an enticing package to the IT admin. It's secure, it's fast, and -- most importantly -- it's now easy to manage and deploy across an entire Windows network.
Over at the official Chrome Blog, Google took a moment to trumpet these features and they're no doubt hoping administrators take notice. "We're excited by the features built so far, and we're working hard on polishing the next set of policies that will make Google Chrome even more customizable and useful to users in the future," concludes the post. Successful test deployments with Proctor and Gamble, Boise State University, and Vanguard are also mentioned.
2010 has certainly been a phenomenal year for Chrome in the consumer market. Will Google see similar enterprise gains in 2011? We'll revisit this one next December.
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There are 2 versions, an enterprise version to download and run on your own server. This option is more geared for larger companies.
For smaller groups, there is a free hosted version. It is all web-based and can be accessed from either a computer or a mobile device such as a Blackberry or Android. This is the one we will be talking about.
However, unlike the other Labs options -- like side tabs, tabbed settings, and Instant -- Remoting still isn't usable. After enabling and restarting Chromium, you'll be able to hit set up remoting under the wrench menu. A login box will appear, but that's as far as you'll get.
It's safe to assume that an actual Google or Chromium.Org account (internal, not the ones you and I use) is required at this point, but with Remoting cropping up in Labs it shouldn't be too much longer before we're able to take the feature for a test drive.
Now, Google has made policy templates available for download which provide a measure of lockdown functionality. As you can see, after importing the .ADM files into the Windows Group Policy Editor you'll be able to manage a handful of Chrome settings via a local machine policy.
A default home page and proxy settings can be configured and Chrome Sync can be blocked, but the bulk of the options are related to background communications with Google (alternate error pages, DNS prefetch, crash reporting, suggestions, etc.). There are a few things missing right now. For example, while I can choose to disable certain plug-ins, there's no switch to disallow extension installs. I'd also like to disable Chrome's autofill feature, but it, too, is missing.
Providing this type of application control was a key step if Google had any hopes of wresting away enterprise market share from Internet Explorer. Now that it's here, it will be interesting to see if Chrome can make inroads in the workplace.
Any way you look at it, Remoting is a very key component of Google's enterprise ambitions for Chrome OS (and the Chrome browser). It could very well allow inexpensive nettops, netbooks, and tablet devices running Chrome OS to easily interact with a business' existing enterprise apps.
As those devices inch closer to reality, Chrome OS code continues to mature and new features -- like Remoting -- begin to appear. You can see in the screenshot above that Remoting is now taking shape more visibly in Chromium. It's currently hidden behind the --enable-remoting flag, and the setup function under Chrome's wrench menu points to a page which is unavaiable.
It's a start, and it's certainly going to be interesting to watch Google's plans for Remoting unfold.