Google Chrome: A Hit with Online Software Vendors

With its ability to load pages quickly and its resistance to crashing, online software vendors such as Zoho and Socialtext see Google's new Chrome web browser as a good opportunity for delivering business software.

Makers of online software say Google's Chrome Web browser will likely work well with their products. They are confident many of their customers will adopt Chrome as Google adds more features in the coming months.

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From Google's point of view, the creation of Chrome centered around providing a good avenue to access Web applications, as opposed to older browsers designed to view static webpages with text-based features (such as newspaper articles). This issue is of particular interest to Google since its software suite, called Google Apps, currently being sold to businesses, eventually may compete with Microsoft Office.

In its comic strip promoting Chrome, the company noted that older browsers weren't designed to handle the rich features of the Web that we have today.

"People are watching and uploading videos, chatting with each other, playing Web-based games," the comic strip says. "All these things that didn't exist when the first browsers were created."

While Chrome might not affect the Web browser market drastically just yet, and though it offers sparser features than Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox or Safari, it might gain traction with companies that use online software, also known as software as a service (SaaS), or which use the latest buzzterm, cloud computing. But for users to choose Chrome, the online software vendors need to make sure their apps work well on it.

One such vendor, Zoho, makes a wide range of Web-based applications that bleed into competitive areas with Google and Microsoft. Zoho provides e-mail, documents, spreadsheets, wikis and customer relationship management (CRM) software to its customers.

Raju Vegesna, Zoho's chief evangelist, is very optimistic about Chrome and encourages his service's users (and there are now 1 million) to try it. The reason he cited: JavaScript, the programming language that is used for many of the interactive features on the Web, runs "very fast" on Chrome.

"I see Zoho running very well on Chrome," he says. "As JavaScript executes faster, our apps become faster with not much tweaking from our side. This is great news for all Web apps."

Ross Mayfield, president and co-founder of Socialtext, a company that makes wikis and other collaborative apps for businesses, has begun looking into Chrome but doesn't officially support it yet. But Mayfield, too, is optimistic about its prospects.

"Because of Chrome's speed and ability to fail gracefully when running multiple Ajax apps, we at Socialtext welcome the innovation and competition to the browser market. All browsers will trend towards being rich-experience operating systems for the Web," he says.

The "fail gracefully" comment refers to the fact that traditional browsers, often overrun from too much JavaScript (or at least too much of it that's poorly written), can crash, losing all the user's work. According to Google, this happened because browsers haven't supported multiple processes that well. In other words, if a browser loads JavaScript in one application, it has to complete that process before it lets you fully open another tab and Web application.

According to Google, the Chrome browser handles multiple processes and doesn't crash your whole browser when one app fails.

While vendors, especially those of the Web 2.0 variety, have begun embracing Chrome and are enthusiastic about its future, Sheri McLeish, a Forrester analyst, says that Chrome will have a long way to go with businesses since so many have planned their apps around Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

"There is a lot of enthusiasm and excitement over Chrome, particularly on the technical side," McLeish says. "The speed with which pages are served up is really fast. But this is a beta release. It will take some time to mature and may take some time for enterprises as they view their investments in IE."

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