Are you running Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser? You don’t necessarily have to download a whole new browser in order to get the benefits of a new browser anymore.
Google this week officially graduated its Chrome Frame add-on to a stable release, providing users of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer an engine for its Chrome browser.
Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) first publicly launched Chrome Frame for developers a year ago, and moved the product into beta in June of this year.
“This stable channel release provides our most polished version of Google Chrome Frame to date, allowing users to access modern Web technologies like HTML5 on legacy browsers,” Google engineers Tomas Gunnarsson and Robert Shield wrote in a blog post.
Chrome Frame provides a way for users of IE 6, 7 and 8 to run Google’s Chrome browser engine inside of Internet Explorer. Google’s goal is to offer better HTML5 support than some of the older IE releases. Having better support for newer Web development technologies is critical for Google as it continues to expand its own online applications strategy.
Gunnarsson and Shield noted that Chrome Frame support is already being added to Google applications like Orkut, Docs and YouTube. That said, they added that Gmail and Google Calendar don’t yet support Chrome Frame, though Google is planning on adding it in the near future.
In a new video explaining how to use Chrome Frame, Google Software Engineer Alex Russell said that there are two primary methods for website developers to add support for Chrome Frame. Either a meta tag or an HTTP header can be added to a website to check to see if an IE user has Chrome Frame installed and, if so, to use that technology to render the page.
When Chrome Frame was first announced, Microsoft alleged that it might make IE less secure. Microsoft helped to prove its own point in November 2009 with the discovery of a vulnerability in Chrome Frame.
Microsoft still holds the same view that Chrome Frame is risk. In a statement sent to InternetNews.com Microsoft noted that with Internet Explorer 8, it made “significant advancements to make the browser faster and safer for our customers.”
“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 attach area for malware and malicious scripts,” Microsoft said. “This is not a risk we would recommend our friends and families take.”
Microsoft’s new IE 9 browser is set to include advanced HTML5 capabilities, however IE 9 will not be made available to Windows XP users.
The plan moving forward at Google is to keep updating Chrome Frame at the same pace that the Chrome browser itself is updated. Google has outlined an ambitious goal of releasing new major releases of Chrome approximately every 12 weeks.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.